The capital of Belgium, Brussels is a fascinating place with stunning architecture, history and modernity ,mixed with some fun activities too. Belgian chocolate and Waffles add their bit of sweetness to this city.
A short overview
Brussels has grown over the years from a small rural settlement to an important city in Europe. Since the end of the second World war, it has become a major center for international politics and is home to numerous international organizations, diplomats and civil servants. It being the de facto capital of the European Union, hosts a number of EU organizations. The recent war has put it very much in the news as the headquarters of NATO is located here.
Officially, it is bilingual with Dutch and French being the official languages. English is also widely spoken.
Let me take you to some of the locations that we visited in Brussels .
The Atomium is emblematic of Brussels much like the Eiffel tower is to Paris. Built in 1958 for the World Fair, it symbolizes an iron atom magnified 165 billion times!
It is 100 mt tall. Made of stainless steel , its 9 spheres are connected by tubes. The tubes connecting the spheres enclose stairs and escalators, that allow access to the 6 accessible spheres. The spheres contain exhibition halls and other public places. The central vertical tube has an elevator. The top sphere has a restaurant and offers panoramic views of Brussels.
One of the spheres
The stairway in the Atomium
At the Atomium
The Grand Place
The Grand Place is the square in the center of the city which is so typical of most European cities. It is a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO since 1998. It measures 68 mt in length and 110 mt in breadth.
Very often it is called the World’s most beautiful square. It is located in the central part of Brussels. The square started here in the 13th century. Initially 3 markets were functioning here. In the 14th century, it was decided to have buildings around. By the end of the 14th century, the dimensions were defined and it was paved with tiles. Most of it was destroyed in 1695 in the Nine year war by the French troops. The buildings surrounding the place were rebuilt subsequently. The 96 mt high tower of the city hall survived the war.
At the center of the Grand Place is the city hall surrounded by the guild halls along the sides of the square. The Gothic and Baroque architecture of these buildings is very striking. The city hall with its impressive tower and the present Brussels city museum are the more striking of the buildings.
Like in most European cities, the square is the main meeting place and a venue for many performances. Every second year, the Grand Place gets a beautiful flower carpet in August that makes it even more beautiful! Christmas and New Year celebrations here attract a lot of locals and tourists.
The Grand Place
Preparations for the evening fun!
The impressive city hall tower
The Brussels city Museum
A stage being set up for a performance
A file photo of the famous flower carpet at Grand Place
Mannekin Pis( “pissing little boy ” in dutch)
Another land mark close to the Grand Place is the Mannekin Pis; a fountain where there is a bronze figure of a naked little boy urinating into the fountain bowl.
It is supposed to depict folk humour in Belgium!
The Mannekin Pis
I don’t have to tell any of you how delicious Belgian chocolates are! The streets are lined with Chocolate shops of various sizes and one can taste the chocolates and purchase as per one’s wish. The smell from these gourmet shops wafts in the air!
One of the many chocolate shops that line the streets
Waffles….the other delicacy that Belgium is famous for. There are lots of Waffle shops along the streets and we did try out some delicious waffles.
Mouth watering Waffles
After a rather short and crisp visit to Brussels, our tour was on its way to Netherlands.
Before I go, let me leave you with this sweet image of the colourful Waffle girl and her wares!!
The sweet waffle girl!!
See you next week in the Netherlands where we spent a couple of days. Till then, keep your comments flowing in and do subscribe below..
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