Driving from Bruges to Paris, we only have time for a quick stop in Belgium’s capital to see the highlights, grab lunch, and indulge in one last Belgian Waffle.
1. Manneken Pis
- A big attraction in Brussels, Manneken Pis, is actually quite small standing only 2 feet tall. Each holiday, the bronze statue of a peeing boy is dressed accordingly. On special occasions, bands play while Manneken Pis pees Belgian beer for those celebrating.
2. Everard t’Serclaes
- The bronze statue, a monument to Everard t’Serclaes, Hulien Dillens, is of a dying man lying in front of three reliefs: the liberation of Brussels, the entry of Jeanne and Wenceslas, and the destruction of the Gaesbeek castle. It was made to honor him for liberating Brussels in the 1400’s. It is believed touching Everd t’Serclaes’ right hand will bring good luck and running a hand along the statue from head to feet will bring a year of happiness.
3. La Grand Place
- In 1998 UNESCO declared the Grand Place or Grote Markt as a world heritage site. Once a marketplace for trading, many of the nearby streets are named after food: butter, cheese, chicken, and herbs. The cobblestone square is outlined with an eccentric mix of Gothic and Flemish guild houses, Brussels’ city hall, Hotel de Ville, and Maison du Roi, the Museum of the city of Brussels. Inside the L´Arbre d´Or (right), the Belgian brewers’ headquarters, visitors can explore an 18th century replica brewery and beer making tools.
4. Hotel de Ville
- The Gothic town hall, Hotel de Ville, is still used for civic purposes. The ornate, arched windows and nearly 200 sculptures of drunken monks have earned this building the title of Brussels’ finest civic building. A statue of Brussels’ patron saint, St. Michael, slaying evil stands atop this asymmetrical building. It is believed the architect jumped to his death from one of the building’s towers upon discovering his perfectly symmetrical building had an off center entrance.
5. Maison du Roi
- Maison du Roi, the Museum of the city of Brussels, is the most visited building in Brussels. Maison du Roi meaning King’s house in french, is known as Broodhuis, or bread house in Dutch. The Neo-Gothic style building was designed during the transitional period from Gothic to renaissance architecture.
6. Indulge in Belgian Waffles
- In Belgium there are actually 2 types of waffles, Brussels or Liege. Brussels waffles are light and crispy made with a thin batter allowing for perfect rectangular edges and deep holes. Liege waffles are made with a thick, doughy batter resulting in a thick, chewy waffle with uneven edges.
7. Maison des Ducs de Brabant
- The most modern addition to La Grand Place, Maison des Ducs de Brabant, House of the Dukes of Brabant, is a group of neoclassical guild houses.
Next stop: Paris.