It is easy to imagine that the steep streets that lead from the cathedral to the Ville Haute (Upper Town) would now ooze with charm if the original medieval-looking buildings had been preserved. Nevertheless, this is not the case, as most of the ancient buildings were replaced at the turn of the century by imposing edificies built with the purpose to house Belgium's most important insurance and financial institutions. As a result, this area, that used to be the banking hub of Belgium, is now full of imposing Beaux Arts and historicist buildings, but also some expressionist and even some examples of brutalist architecture can be seen around.
From the Grand Place, it is a short walk to the Church of Saint Nicholas through the charming and tempting Butter Street (it is full of chocolate and biscuit stores, including the world famous Biscuiterie Dandoy).
The church itself is not very large. It was originally a chapel that the traders let built in honour of their saint patron near the Market Square. Nowadays, the church is still closely connected to trade, as tiny houses hosting different kinds of businesses are attached to all but one of its walls.
The building was also severely damaged in the 1695 bombing and almost all the original Gothic features were replaced by Baroque decorations when it was rebuilt. It used to have a belltower that collapsed a few years after it was rebuilt for the excessive weight of the bells. After that, the church has remained towerless.
After so many renovations, the interior shows equally a collage of artistic styles ranging from Medieval elements to contemporary additions, but Baroque features are predominant. In any case, the bizarre curved main nave is worth a visit of a few minutes.
The builidng has undergone a complete renovation for several years and has recently been reopened to the public.
Blaes and High Street are the two main arteries in the Marolles district. They run parallel to each other and are connected by a number of narrow and steep lanes. While the architecture is typical of a working class neighborhood, there are a lot of quirky stores and restaurants that may draw your attention.
On High Street, you can even visit what is said to be the House of Peter Bruegel the old, one of the most celebrated Flemish painters from the XVI century, who did live in the Marolles and got married and was buried in the nearby Church of Our Lady of the Chapel.
On Blaes Street, you will also find the Fuse Club, the temple of techno music in Brussels.
The last area of the Quartier Leopold to be developped is what is known as the Quartier des Squares: a sequence of four squares in what used to be a large pond of which only a small portion has been preserved in the Square Marie-Louise.
The four squares are lined with oppulent residential buildings that recreate the Flemish Renaissance and the French Baroque styles, but you can also find architectural jewels like the Art Nouveau Saint-Cyr House and the Villa Germaine (last picture).
Law Street is one of the main avenues in Brussels, linking the Royal Park with the Schuman Place, near the Jubilee Park. It has recently been renovated and embellished with funky street lamps, but it is still a pedestrian unfriendly area: the fumes and noises of the excessive traffic, the gelidity and greyness of the façades that line it and the limited espace for walkers make it oppressive and suffocating. At night, however, when lights are on, the perspective as you drive on it is one of the best in the city.
The upper part of the Avenue, where the main European institutions are located, has wider walkways and more air. Apart from the famous Berlaymont and Justus Lipsius buildings, you can also check the Charlemagne building, pictured here. This building located next to its bigger brother, the Berlaymont, and built at the same time, was the first seat of the European Council. Since 1995, when it was given a lift, it is occupied by some services of the European Commission.
The Pacheco Institute lies in front of a pleasant square. This Neo-classical construction was built in the early XIX century in the place where the former hospice of the beguines used to stand. Initially, it was dedicated to heal terminal ills and older patients, but today it houses a geriatric institute.
This round square surrounded by simple Neo-classical buildings is presided by a statue of the famous anatomist from Brussels Andrew Vesalius. The Square is named after the barricades that were erected during the riots of the Revolution of August 1830, which eventually led to the Belgian independence and to the preponderance of the French-speaking community over the Flemish.
Victor Hugo, the famous French author, used to own a house on this square (he also lived on the Grand Place while in his exile in Brussels). The house exists today, but part the square's stylistic unity has been mutilated with the construction of inappropriate buildings in the surroundings.
As improbable as it may seem today, for many centuries, Brussels has had an active port, connected with the Port of Antwerp by the Willebroeck Canal, which was vital for its economy.
All the basins and canals were voulted in the XIX, along with the Senne river, but many of the streets in this area still bear the ancient names relating to port activities, like Wood Quay or Fish Market.
Most of the houses look ancient and quaint. Today, many of them host fish restaurants. This is also where one of the liveliest Christmas markets is installed every year.
Firstly, get the Brussels map. It aadvises 2 walk way for tourist. One for historical and sight seeing and seconf for shopping (realted with modern things which I do not interest on )
You can easily follow the way that map draws you and see almost all of the histocial places.
Sometime you can use metro to jump from one place to another however you can finish all city with a quick tour. It has easy directions . You can see an example from the phostos I attached.
From Musee des Beaux Arts walk north,
past the Palais Royale and the Parc de Bruxelles,
along the tram route,all the way to the Church and/or Botanical Gardens if you wish.
Beautiful sights towrds the start point,
interesting neighbourhood and buidlings as you stroll north.
It really is such a joy to walk through BRUSSELS and admire the LACE SHOPS and....you definitely will see women at work and I am sure that you will be amazed when you see their quick fingers do things you can hardly see with your eyes...
In the - often narrow but deep - shops there are gems to admire.....and they will explain....again: an excellent place for gifts in case you need some and otherwise treat yourself to something nice there.....
My first trip. My first European city. Not knowing what to do or see. Accompanied by a friend Reg. He's as lost as me.
We had a good time nonetheless. Visiting almost everything that Brussels could offer. It's just that we didn't take many photo.
Walking tour (self guided, not an 'official tour'). There are so many beautiful buildings around the center of Brussels. Some of the older cathedrals are especially impressive - if no services are in session, you may be able to go in and look around. Between the Royal Palace and the Parliament Building there is a beautiful city park.
When you go through the park near the Royal Palace, note how the trees around the park have all of their branches woven together in a grid. (Don't know if you can see this well in summer when the leaves are on the trees, but in winter it's very impressive.) The Grand Place and surrounding blocks are also spectacular.
Take a couple of hours to walk around the museum quarter. The buildings are quite impressive, as are the parks, which are laid out in wide vistas. The area around La Grande Place is quite hilly, making for dramatic views.
Brussels is small city to be the capital of EU. The small narrow streets in the centre are cosy. But a short walk will bring you out of the those areas.