Brussels beer fries mussels chocolate, closely followed by chocolate. These are some of the main impressions this city leaves on you. The city itself I found rather ordinary except for the magnificent Grand Place, for me this is one of Europe’s great squares.
Grand Place, a beautiful square.
The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels. It measures 68 by 110 meters (223 by 361 ft), and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At the beginning of the 13th century, three indoor markets were built on the northern edge of the Grand Place; a meat market, a bread market and a cloth market. These buildings, which belonged to the Duke of Brabant, allowed the wares to be showcased even in bad weather, but also allowed the Dukes to keep track of the storage and sale of goods, in order to collect taxes. Other buildings, made of wood or stone, enclosed the Grand Place.
Totally spectacular at night.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (French) or Koninklijke Sint-Hubertusgalerijen (Dutch) is a glazed shopping arcade in Brussels that preceded other famous 19th-century shopping arcades such as the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and The Passage in St Petersburg. Like them it has twin regular façades with distant origins in Vasari’s long narrow street-like courtyard of the Uffizi, Florence, with glazed arcaded shopfronts separated by pilasters and two upper floors, all in an Italianate Cinquecento style, under an arched glass-paned roof with a delicate cast-iron framework.
Entrance to Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Construction started on May 6, 1846. It lasted for 18 months, and the 213 meter passage was opened on June 20, 1847 by King Leopold and his two sons. In 1845 the Société named the three sections of the new passage the Galerie du Roi, Galerie de la Reine and Galerie du Prince.
Restaurants near the Grand Place.
The small alleys & streets around the Grand Place hold hundreds of restaurants and bars. I found about 80% of them had almost identical menus. Mussels & fries washed down with Belgium beer is the most popular dish, I love the beer but sadly I not a fan of Mussels.
So many restaurants & so little time
This area is truly one of the world’s great eating precincts.
Brussels beer fries Seafood restaurant
Lucky for me there are many paces that don’t feature Brussels beer fries on the menu. This restaurant precinct is one of the most impressive I have seen anywhere in the world.
One of my favourite photos from Brussels.
Cafe Georgette was a real find, located at Rue de la Fourche 37, 1000 Bruxelles, it has a cozy atmosphere & for solo diners like myself it allows you to watch the passing parade out the front window. My Tagliatelle with smoked salmon was perfect as was the Tiramisu.
This lady is like a female version of myself, dining alone with a Kindle for company. 😥
Belgian chocolate, YUM!
Belgium is famed for its high quality chocolate and over 2,000 chocolatiers, both small and large. Belgium’s association with chocolate goes back as far as 1635 when the country was under Spanish occupation. By the mid 18th century, chocolate was extremely popular in upper and middle class circles, particularly in the form of hot chocolate, including with Charles-Alexander of Lorraine, the Austrian governor of the territory. From the early 20th century, the country was able to import large quantities of cocoa from its African colony, the Belgian Congo. Both the chocolate bar and praline are inventions of the Belgian chocolate industry. Today, chocolate is very popular in Belgium, with 172,000 tonnes produced each year, and widely exported.
Just as popular as Belgian chocolate is Manneken Pis. 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 the basket in a tree to encourage them. From there, the boy urinated on the troops of the Berthouts, who eventually lost the battle. Another legend states that in the 14th century, Brussels was under siege by a foreign power. The city had held its ground for some time, so the attackers conceived of a plan to place explosive charges at the city walls. A little boy named Julianske happened to be spying on them as they were preparing. He urinated on the burning fuse and thus saved the city. There was at the time (middle of the 15th century, perhaps as early as 1388) a similar statue made of stone. The statue was stolen several times.
The Triumphal arch
Triumphal arches are one of the most influential and distinctive types of architecture associated with ancient Rome. Thought to have been invented by the Romans, the triumphal arch was used to commemorate victorious generals or significant public events such as the founding of new colonies, the construction of a road or bridge, the death of a member of the imperial family or the accession of a new emperor.
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A great way to see the city
I had a little luck on the bus, they didn’t charge me so instead of 22 Euros I rode for free. 😛
The Opera house
Today the National Opera of Belgium, a federal institution, takes the name of the theater in which it is housed. Therefore, la Monnaie or de Munt refers both to the structure as well as the opera company. As Belgium’s leading opera house it is one of the few cultural institutions which receives financial support from the federal government of Belgium.
Brussels was a total surprise for me, a truly memorable city.
Around every corner is another photo opportunity.
100 meters from my hotel
My hotel the NH Grand Place Arenberg was great value & only 5 minutes walk to the Grand Place, good rooms at the right price & friendly staff. Breakfast & wi fi included.
That’s all folks
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Lots more photos below.
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Road trip in Europe
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