Admiring Brussels

Brussels Travel Blog

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Royal Palace of Brussels

The one, who once visited this magnificent city, would want to return here again and again. We would not have had a week to see all the sights of Brussels, there is just a huge number of them, and each place is interesting and attractive in its own way. The capital of Brussels is full of a special aura that comes from historical buildings, structures, sculptures, restaurants and even people. The combination of the styles of Gothic, Baroque, Art Nouveau and modernity, that are not harmonious at first sight, impart the city a unique charm, which is rarely found in other regions. Architectural monuments and modern skyscrapers perfectly complement each other, creating a holistic, unique picture.

Every year thousands of tourists come to the capital of Belgium to admire this beautiful city.

Atomium
In ancient times, the historical center was symbolically divided into two parts - the upper and lower. In the upper region, there were palaces, castles and estates of the nobles. The lower town was buzzing with activity, people were actively engaged in trade and craft, they were developing the industry. Many architectural monuments of the upper part of the historic center have remained to these days, so we rented a car in Brussels and spent time mostly in this part of the city.

The Brussels is the largest city of Belgium. We heard people talking different languages, but mostly French and not so often Dutch. All the inscriptions of streets, signs, buildings in the capital of Belgium are written in these two languages.

Grand Place
Brussels is a cozy city, located on the Senna River. I could write for a length of time about the atmosphere and colors of the city, but I would better describe four places in Brussels, which I liked the most, maybe they will more exactly show you what Brussels is about.

Atomium

This unusual construction was designed in 1958, when the international exhibition was planned. This unique masterpiece was created by an engineer Andre Vaterkeyn. His goal was to show how does the molecule of iron, increased in billions of times, look. The construction is a symbol of Belgium and Brussels. There we have also visited an interesting scientific museum. The locals are very proud of the Atomium and they told us that not so long ago, the construction underwent major overhaul, due to which it once again shine with a metallic glitter.

Maneken Pis fountain

The Grand Place

If you are staying at the capital of Belgium, you must definitely visit this unforgettable square. Grand Place is named one of the most beautiful squares in the world. Despite the fact that each individual building was built in its own style, you have no feeling of chaos or incompatibility. Different styles and epochs harmoniously intertwine with each other, creating a unique inimitable ensemble. The year 1695 was deplorable for this square, as its territory was almost completely destroyed by the French. The reconstruction of the square began immediately after the end of the battles. The only saved City Hall in the Brabant Gothic style has been restored, and its beauty worth seeing, believe me.

Close to the square, there is a 16th century building, which is called the ‘Royal House’.

The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula
No one could explain us the reason it is called this way, since the kings did not live in this building. There was a bakery, a court, a prison, and now it is a communal museum.

Maneken Pis fountain

We all know that this monument is famous all over the world, so I didn’t miss an opportunity to see it. “The little man pee” (this is the way, how the locals call the fountain in Dutch), is a symbol of Belgium and Brussels in particular. The Brusselians say that even if you do not plan to see the statue, you will still come to it. The thing is that all roads directed to the historical center lead to the legendary bronze statue. Unfortunately, the documents, which are giving testimony to the exact time and circumstances of the "Manneken Pis" fountain building, do not exist, but the statue was first mentioned at the end of the fourteenth century. There are several legends, according to which, the idea of the pissing boy image emerged. One of the legends says that a fountain was put in honor of a little boy, who thus stamped a wick of the bomb planted by the enemies during the siege of the city. Such a courageous little fellow!

During different events in the country and the world, the clothes of the sculpture periodically change. There are already more than a hundred costumes of the "Manneken Pis", stored in the city museum. The first attire was presented at the end of the 17th century by the Governor of Bavaria. The most famous couturiers dream of giving a statue a new clothing. According to the established rule, his outfit should consist of four items: a jacket, trousers, a hat and shoes. People have seen the boy in the characters of Elvis Presley and Napoleon, an Indian and a diver. He wore the costumes of the characters from the movies and cartoons - Mickey Mouse, Obelix and Count Dracula.

Despite its small size, Manneken Pis is the symbol of inexhaustible folk humor and the freedom-loving spirit of Belgium. We saw the image of the famous boy at every turn in Brussels. When the tourists are visiting Brussels, they necessarily buy the miniature copies of the Manneken Pis statue, which could be found in numerous souvenir shops…so did I!

The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

This is a truly magnificent cathedral, even the great Victor Hugo, who revered the Gothic architecture, called this building, which is connecting the upper and the lower city, “the only truly Gothic cathedral”. On the historical building’s facade, you may simply read the development of Gothic culture. The construction of the cathedral took about 200 years- from the 13th to the end of the 15th century. The cathedral acted as a link between the Upper and the Lower cities, which I have mentioned before. Having two blunt towers, it reminded me of the famous Notre-Dame de Paris. Inside each tower, there are long staircases, which guide to the terrace at a height of 64 meters.

St. Michael is considered the patron saint of Brussels, but only few know who Saint Gudula is. She was a daughter of the Carolingian aristocrat of the 7th century. Very little is known about this young women, but her relics are kept for more than 1000 years already.

There are beautiful stained-glass windows in the cathedral. Some of them were made in the 16thcentury, the other-in 18thand 19th. The nave of the cathedral is decorated with the statues of saints and there are long dark brown benches in the cathedral, which are contrasting with a bright colored hall. There is also a mausoleum to the Belgian national hero Frederic de Merode in the cathedral. If you are planning to spend a lot of time in this place, take some jacket with you, as it is cold in the cathedral even in summer.

vicIII says:
Thanks for your interesting narration and excellent photographs!..
Posted on: Sep 27, 2017
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Royal Palace of Brussels
Royal Palace of Brussels
Atomium
Atomium
Grand Place
Grand Place
Maneken Pis fountain
Maneken Pis fountain
The Cathedral of St. Michael and S…
The Cathedral of St. Michael and …
Brussels
photo by: Vlindeke