Tours & Walks, Brussels
Find a good self-guided walking tour and show yourself around the city. I had an old AT&T walking tour map of Breussels that had four different routes all with descriptions of everything you'd see along the way. The only problem was the map was 15 years old so some statues were gone and other roads had changed.
Brussels architecture is as varied as Brussels peoples got influences of other countries peoples. Think of centuries of exchanges, French, Dutch influences and at lesser extent, Italian or Spanish inspirations. However, Brussels stands alone thanks to interpretations of foreign styles as well as to its resourceful architects (Art Nouveau style, COBRA members included Belgian ones).
For instance, I read that while rebuilding Brussels Grand-Place Guildhouses, circa 1695- 1700, guilds took inspiration from Italian baroque that they have to adapt to the size of Brussels. The then aim was to get those buildings in harmony with their environment, the city they are located in... As a result, different styles coexist in same place: Italian baroque and gothic for instance stuck together ... Elsewhere, Victor Horta and the likes introduced Art Nouveau that eventually spread over Europe as Roman Gothic gave up, centuries ago, its seat to Brabant Gothic ... Still, much to be seen.. Art déco and modernism moulded Palais des Beaux-Arts... as both neoclassicism and Art Nouveau, Old England building (now, Music Instruments Museum).
So take time to enjoy spring, just wander, look up in the air and discover... This way, I discovered a museum years ago, just wandering in an administration district. Turns out it was once the Art district... See my tip on Musée Charlier (must see activities)
Comics seem to reign supreme here in Belgium, almost every medium to large city we visited had its share of wall art devoted to some comic strip character or other. There was also various wall art scenes we found depicting some period in the history of a city.
There is a Comic Strip Museum in Brussels which you can find by the link.
The statue of T'serclaes is at the Grand Place, downtown Brussels.
You are supposed to touch, or rather rub, the statue while making a wish.
First you touch the head and then you rub all the way down to the feet (you can see the "rubbing line" as it has been polished by untold hands). Our friends told us it should also bring love.
Some of the buildings and structures around the city could be termed works of art in and of themselves. Our friends Gillian and Guy took us to see these two places. The first is a private home (Maison Cauchie) only a few meters wide.
I found the following on the internet - "Close to the Parc du Cinquantenaire is the 1905 Maison Cauchie at rue des Francs that was the home of the architect and painter Cauchie. It is now owned by the founder of The Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art".
The second is a hotel (now closed). I have looked for material about this hotel on the internet, but so far no luck.
The Matonge district is the place where the African community of Brussels lives. It's situated on and around the Chaussée de Wavre, in the suburb Ixelles. It got its name from a market place in Kinshasa.
Go there if you want to see some colourful shops with all kinds of vegetables and fruit you never knew that existed. A little piece of Africa in Brussels.
There are some nice restaurants as well, not only African, but also quite a few Indian/Pakistani, since this is also the neighbourhood of Indian/Pakistani immigrants.
To get there take the subway and get off at Porte de Namur.
So what's so special about a big clock on a big wall in a big city? Well apparently not even many of the locals get to see it especially motorists.
This time piece is set above an arch which is over a one way street. So unless drivers glance in their rear vision mirror while driving on a busy city road they wouldn't be able to see the clock... and even then the time would appear to be backwards.
A fine piece of town planning!
One of the greenest municipalities in Brussels and definately the one I would pick to live in if it had better connections to the city centre (I rely on public transport) and primarily: if I could afford it. Not that it is snobbish but it borders the forest on the outskirts of Brussels and the greenery of course raises house prices. I love strolling around here as it has a real village feeling to it still with its small town architecture and market. Try catching a bus or tram (from Louise) to Place Wiener and you'll see what I mean.
Just a few steps from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, you can admire the beautiful gardens of the Mont-des-Arts.
The gardens are surrounded by the National Library of the Albertine, which contains more than 1million books and about 30,000 manuscripts, and 2 Palaces, the Congress Palace (Palais des Congrès) and the Palace of the Dynasty (Palais de la Dynastie) where you can admire a carillon and a clock with an animated dial.
Walking down Rue Marché au Charbon, we noticed this rather isolated, but pleasant church.
It was built in 1664 by Jean Cortvriendt.
Inside, you can admire the galleries, the 18th-century angels' heads made of white marble and the statue of Our Lady from the 14th century .
A few steps from the Martyrs Square (la place des martyrs), there's this Church of Finistère (l'Eglise du Finistère).
It was built between 1708 and 1730. In 1857, the statue of the Virgin was placed on the façade.
Inside the church, you can admire the painting representing 'The Flight to Egypt'.
It's believed that the statue of Our Lady of Finistère is miraculous.
This is yet another monument that I came upon while exploring the city.
It was made by Poelaert in honour of the National Congress, which wrote the constitution of 1831.
You can see the statue of King Leopold I on the top of this 49m-high column, the 2 bronze lions on the entrance and the bas-reliefs, that symbolize the 9 provinces, the 4 statues in the corners, that symbolize the freedom of the press, education, association and of worship.
In 1922, an unknown soldier was buried between the 2 lions.
1 of the ways to find out more about the city is to get lost in it. That's how I discovered this impressive church.
After a pleasant walk through the botanical gardens, I did some more walking down the street towards the high dome of this church I noticed in the distance. I simply had to take a closer look.
The church was designed by Louis Van Overstraeten and constructed under the direction of Gustave Hansotte.
The bronze doors are composed of 32 engraved panels and the 4 Evangelists and their symbols adorn the building.
One of the most endearing sides of Brussels is its ability to surprise you. You'll be walking down the street, whether going out, or coming home, or just wandering around, and suddenly you'll see a façade you haven't seen before. It'll take you some time to figure out what's wrong with it -- for there is something definitely odd. Look at the pic and see for yourself.
There are at least 22 painted facades in central Brussels. I have seen but a few. The information office on Grand Place is rumoured to have a map of them, altho I never checked. I prefer to go it alone. ;-)
I little bit further we arrive at the Vossenplein (Place du jeu de balle). This little square has it’s own daily flee market each day. It is an old tradition dating from 1640 on.
You will have to be here between 7 am and 2 pm.
If you are interested in anything more then flowers, then you should drop by and visit the market on Thursday and Sunday’s.
If the market is over, then the square is often used for other events. I found this little state on the square during my summer walk. Seemly I missed the performance `-)