Brussels/Bruxelles/Brussel - Capital city of Belgium

Brussels Travel Blog

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Brussels (French: Bruxelles, Dutch: Brussel), officially the Brussels Capital-Region, is the capital city of the European Union (EU) and the largest urban area in Belgium. It should not be confused with the much smaller City of Brussels (founded circa 580) within it, which is the capital of Belgium (and Flanders) by law.

Brussels has grown from a 10th-century fortress town founded by Charlemagne's grandson into a metropolis of more than one million inhabitants. After the end of World War II, Brussels has been an important centre for international politics. It hosts the main institutions of the European Union, and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Thus, Brussels is the polyglot home of many international organisations, diplomats and civil servants. Brussels is the EU's third-richest city in terms of per capita income.

Although historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels has become increasingly francophone. Today most inhabitants are native French-speakers, although both languages have official status.
This process has led to a longstanding conflict between the French and Dutch speaking community, reflecting the situation in Belgium at large. Brussels is the capital of Flanders and of the French Community of Belgium.

Brussels is the bilingual capital of Belgium. This means that both French and Dutch are the official languages of the city. Street names and traffic sings are always in these two languages. Furthermore, it is a cosmopolitan city where many different cultures live together and where different languages can be heard on each street. This liveliness and international flair is, of course, intimately related to its role as a crossroads for all of Europe.

The same variety and contrast can also be found in the different architectural styles that can be found in Brussels, the former capital of the medieval Duchy of Brabant. Gothic cathedrals and churches are next to - and sometimes in stark contrast with - gracious classical facades like the buildings around the Royal Square (Place Royale - Koningsplein), or beautiful art nouveau and art deco houses.

The heart of Brussels and the place to start getting to know the city is the Grand'Place (Grote Markt).
The Atomium is a monument built for Expo '58, the 1958 Brussels World's Fair
This historic market square with its splendid guild houses and the impressive Gothic beauty of the Town Hall, is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe.

Atomium
The Atomium is a monument built for Expo '58, the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. Designed by André Waterkeyn, it is 102-metres (335 ft) tall, with nine steel spheres connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.
Tubes which connect the spheres along the 12 edges of the cube and all eight vertices to the centre enclose escalators connecting the spheres which contain exhibit halls and other public spaces. The top sphere provides a panoramic view of
Brussels. Each sphere is 18 metres in diameter. Three spheres are currently (2008) closed to the visitors, others are easily reachable with escalator.

The vertical vertex contains a lift which was considered very fast and advanced at the time of building (the speed is 5 m/s)

One of the original ideas for Expo '58 was to build an upside-down version of the Eiffel tower; however, Waterkeyn felt that an atomic structure would be more symbolic of the era.The monument was originally planned to remain standing only six months. However, it soon became a symbol not only of the World's Fair, but of modern architecture and Brussels. The monument stayed the same for almost 50 years.

The Atomium is located beside the King Baudouin Stadium in Heysel Park.

Looking down from the top.
Just next to it lies the Mini-Europe park and the Heysel/Heizel metro station.

Safety Features
The three uppermost spheres lack vertical support and hence are not open to the public for safety reasons. The original design called for no supports, the structure was simply to rest on the spheres. Wind tunnel tests proved that the structure would have toppled in a 80 km/h wind (140 km/h winds have been recorded in
Belgium). Support columns were added to achieve enough resistance against overturning.


Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis (Dutch for little man pee), also known in French as the petit Julien, is a very famous Brussels landmark.

Manneken Pis/petit Julien/little man pee - A very famous Brussels landmark.
It is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain's basin.

On many occasions, the statue is dressed in a costume. His wardrobe now consists of several hundred different costumes. The costumes are changed according to a schedule managed by the non-profit association The Friends of Manneken-Pis, in ceremonies that are often accompanied by brass band music.

On occasion, the statue is hooked up to a keg of beer. Cups will be filled up with the beer flowing from the statue and given out to people passing by.

Location:

The famous statue is located at the junction of Rue de l'Étuve & Eikstraat. One has to take the left lane next to the Brussels Town Hall building from the famous Grote Markt and walk up a few hundred meters to arrive at the spot.

Manneken Pis/petit Julien/little man pee
The statue will be on the left corner.

Legends and history

There are several legends behind this statue, but the most famous is the one about Duke Godfrey III of Leuven. In 1142, the troops of this two-year-old lord were battling against the troops of the Berthouts, the lords of Grimbergen, in Ransbeke (now Neder-over-Heembeek). The troops put the infant lord in a basket and hung it in a tree, to encourage them. From there, he urinated on the troops of the Berthouts, who eventually lost the battle.

Another legend goes like this: In the 14th century, Brussels was under siege by a foreign power.

Dates for the statue to dress in different costume.
The city had held their ground for quite some time. The attackers had thought of a plan to place explosive charges at the city walls. A little boy named Juliaanske from Brussels happened to be spying on them as they were preparing. He urinated on the burning fuse and thus saved the city.

There was already a similar statue made of stone in the middle of the 15th century, perhaps as early as 1388. The statue was stolen several times. In 1619 it was replaced by a bronze statue, created by Franco-Flemish Baroque sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy, father of the more famous François.

Another story (told often to tourists) tells of a wealthy merchant who, during a visit to the city with his family, had his beloved young son go missing. The merchant hastily started searching with others all corners of the city, until one member of the search party found the boy happily urinating in a small garden.

Jeanneke Pis-Jeanneke Pis is a modern fountain and statue in Brussels, which forms a counterpoint in gender terms to the city's trademark Manneken Pis.
The merchant, as a gift of gratitude to the locals who helped out during the search, had the fountain built.

Jeanneke Pis

Jeanneke Pis is a modern fountain and statue in Brussels, which forms a counterpoint in gender terms to the city's trademark Manneken Pis, as it does aurally and geographically, being about the same distance away on the other side of the Grand Place / Grote Markt.

It was made by Denis-Adrien Debouvrie in 1985 and erected in 1987 and endowed with its own instant legend, the better to amuse strollers.

This half-metre-high statue of blue-grey limestone depicts a little girl with her hair in short pigtails, squatting and urinating, apparently very contentedly. It is located on the east side of the Impasse de la Fidélité / Getrouwheidsgang (Faith Alley), a narrow dead-end street some 30 metres long leading northwards off the restaurant-packed Rue des Bouchers / Beenhouwersstraat. It is unsurprisingly much less well known than its male counterpart, being a new addition instead of a centuries-old symbol of the city.

KeikoCreative says:
Thanks Kora:)
Posted on: Feb 07, 2009
Koralifix says:
Nicely written!
Posted on: Feb 06, 2009
KeikoCreative says:
Thanks:)
Posted on: Sep 18, 2008
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The Atomium is a monument built fo…
The Atomium is a monument built f…
Looking down from the top.
Looking down from the top.
Manneken Pis/petit Julien/little m…
Manneken Pis/petit Julien/little …
Manneken Pis/petit Julien/little m…
Manneken Pis/petit Julien/little …
Dates for the statue to dress in d…
Dates for the statue to dress in …
Jeanneke Pis-Jeanneke Pis is a mod…
Jeanneke Pis-Jeanneke Pis is a mo…
Arriving in Brussels Central train…
Arriving in Brussels Central trai…
Brussels Central train station
Brussels Central train station
Brussels Central train station
Brussels Central train station
Getting the Metro ticket to Atomiu…
Getting the Metro ticket to Atomi…
Getting money from the wall!
Getting money from the wall!
Metro platform
Metro platform
Ticket stamping machine
Ticket stamping machine
Inside the metro.
Inside the metro.
Beautiful Metro station.
Beautiful Metro station.
Heysel/Heizel Metro station to the…
Heysel/Heizel Metro station to th…
The Atomium
The Atomium
The Atomium- The lower sphere.
The Atomium- The lower sphere.
Queuing up for entrance ticket.
Queuing up for entrance ticket.
Ticket counter
Ticket counter
Inside the lobby
Inside the lobby
Queuing up for the elevator going …
Queuing up for the elevator going…
Queuing up for the elevator going …
Queuing up for the elevator going…
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Direction guide in exhibits level
Direction guide in exhibits level
Going up to the next sphere.
Going up to the next sphere.
Captured of the sphere thru the wi…
Captured of the sphere thru the w…
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Exhibits level
Thru the tube.
Thru the tube.
Walking up to the cafe level.
Walking up to the cafe level.
Elevator or lift technology
Elevator or lift technology
Cafe
Cafe
Elevator heading to the top sphere…
Elevator heading to the top spher…
Breathe taking panorama view from …
Breathe taking panorama view from…
Chocolate fountain
Chocolate fountain
Belgian waffles
Belgian waffles
Bourse-Beurs, Brussels-The buildin…
Bourse-Beurs, Brussels-The buildi…
Brussels central station
Brussels central station
Pictures on the flooring tiles.
Pictures on the flooring tiles.
Pictures on the flooring tiles.
Pictures on the flooring tiles.
Interesting sculpture on the wall.
Interesting sculpture on the wall.
Royal library of Belgium
Royal library of Belgium
Seems to be a piece of city wall b…
Seems to be a piece of city wall …
The side view of the wall.
The side view of the wall.
Brussels Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Yaki Restaurant- Combination of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.
We went to Brussels and looking around for what to eat for our dinner. We walked pass this restaurant. The first thing that captured my attention was … read entire review
Brussels
photo by: Vlindeke