Brussels, the capital of Belgium and some might say, the capital of Europe. From the magnificent Grand Place to the futuristic Atomium and the cheeky Mannekin Pis; the city is full of awe-inspiring, interesting and eye-catching sights. We’ve picked out some of the best, how many can you see during your short break in Brussels?
Flower Carpet 2018
Top Fact: The flower carpet event takes place every two years, lasts for 3 to 4 days, is composed of more than half a million begonias and covers over 1,800 square metres. The 2018 theme of the flower carpet is Mexico. The Flower Carpet is dedicated to Guanajuato, a Mexican region with a particularly rich floral culture and tradition.
Top Fact: There are lots of fantastic legends attached to the statue. One of which is the small boy who weed on a burning fuse leading to a stash of gunpowder set to destroy the city. More likely is that the Rue de l’Étuv used to be filled with tanneries and in the Middle Ages, urine was used in the production of leather!
Top Fact: There are over 350 structures from 80 countries at Mini-Europe including the Berlin Wall, the Acropolis, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and Mount Vesuvius (which actually erupts!)
Grand Place/Grote Markt
Top Fact: This grand medieval square is the heart of Brussels and considered one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. The square hosts several events including the aforementioned Carpet of Flowers, the Ommegang medieval pageant and the Belgian Beer Weekend festival.
Top Fact: One of Europe’s more bizarre structures, the Atomium represents an iron atom magnified 165 billion times and is over 100 metres tall. Built for the 1958 World Fair, the tubes contain escalators which are among the longest in Europe at over 35 metres in length.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Top Fact: Inspired by Sacre Coeur in Paris, this enormous church is one of the world’s largest and took 65 years to build. It sits atop the Koekelberg Hill overlooking Brussels affording spectacular views across the city and the rest of Flanders from the top of its 89 metre tall towers.
Eddy Merckx’s Hour Record Bike
Top Fact: Nicknamed “The Cannibal”, Eddy Merckx is the most successful professional cyclist of all time with five Tour de France and five Giro d’Italia titles to his name as well as a host of other race wins including Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. But the hour record holds a special place in cycling lore and Merckx’s 1972 record of 49.431 kms stood for 12 years. The bike he used is on display on the platform of the Eddy Merckx metro station on Line 5 of the Brussels Metro.
Royal Museums of Fine Arts
Top Fact: A collection of six museums containing over 20,000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings; the museum was originally commissioned and funded by King Leopold II. One of the museum’s most famous masterpieces is Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Marat.
Arcade du Cinquantenaire
Top Fact: Another of King Leopold’s pet projects, this monumental arch was built as a centrepiece to the huge park commemorating the 50th year of Belgian independence. The bronze quadriga atop the arch represents the province of Brabant, the historical region of Belgium of which Brussels was the capital.
Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Located next to the Grand Place, Les Galeries Royales were once the literary centre of Brussels where writers such as Charles Baudelaire, Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo would meet, discuss and drink coffee. Now the 100 metre long galleries are home to luxury boutiques, chocolatiers, restaurants and bookshops.