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Brussels Attractions and Things to See

Brussels is the de facto capital of Belgium and the European Union, the biggest urban area in the nation that includes nineteen municipalities that houses the city of Brussels as well. It has grown from a 10th century fortress founded by a descendant of Charlemagne into an incredible city of one million today. Since the close of WWII, it has become a hub for international politics and host the main EU institutions and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a polyglot of many international organizations, civil servants, politicians and diplomats. It would be started as a chapel constructed in Saint Gaugericus's building on an island located in the Senne River about 580 AD. Because of that early beginning, it is a very historical and significant city, with a fabulous culture and heritage that contains some of the finest architecture in the world, and spans from the medieval period buildings like the Grand Place to the postmodern structures of the EU institutions.

Some of the most significant buildings besides the Grand Place, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, include the Gothic town hall in the city's old center, the Royal Palace, the St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral and the Laken Castle with its magnificent gardens. The Atomium is a 338 foot tall structure that had been built for the 1958 World's Fair and is more a symbolic building now. It has nine steel spheres that are linked by tubes and form a model of an iron crystal, and next to that is the Mini-Europe Park with its 1:25 scale maquettes of famous structures that can be found in Europe today. A marvelous bronze fountain with a little peeing boy has become quite a famous attraction and symbol of the city, and named the Manneken Pis. Other interesting and well known attractions include the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Palace of Justice, the Cinquantenaire Park that has a triumphal arch and many museums near it, the Brussels Stock Exchange and numerous buildings of EU institutions in the European Quarter.  Excellent cultural venues include the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the Brussels theater and La Monnale theater, the Museum of the Army and the Comic Museum; in all total, there are more than 80 museums in the city that houses many Flemish townhouses, art nouveau styled houses by the local architect, Victor Horta, and also include the Schaerbeek, Saint-Gilles, Ixelles and Etterbeek. It has been well known for its art and artists that include Belgian surrealist, Rene Magritte, impressionist Anna Boch from the artistic group, Les XX and strangely, or perhaps not since Belgium is a foreign nation to the majority of Americans, they have an outstanding comic scene, with special Belgian characters like Tintin, Cubitus, Lucky Luke, Marsupilami and Gaston Lagaffe. Their comic museum houses the finest comic strip art in the nation.

The cuisine of the city and nation is fantastic, with specialties like the local waffles, which we try to imitate and most likely fail, their chocolate, various beers and their French fries. Naturally, Brussels sprouts were initially cultivated here, which is how it obtained it name and is a wonderful vegetable to complement any meal, especially with salt, pepper and butter or cheese. The city offers some 1800 restaurants, so it shouldn't be a problem finding some excellent cuisine that suits your own particular tastes. Connoisseurs the world over, know the excellency of the local cuisine and there are numerous and marvelous bistros, cafes, coffee houses and the international food chains if you can't live without McDs. Another local favorite and one that can only be acquired in the city and the surrounding region is the famous lambic style of beer since the yeast can only be found in the Senne Valley; and another strange choice, at least it is to Americans is the local Kreik beer that taste like cherry beer and has a great following here; found in just about any restaurant or bar.