- By Kevin
- On Nov 10, 2017
- Travel Tips
Why Brussels is Europe's most underrated city break?The pleasure of Brussels lies in wandering its streets,taking in the views from the hilltops,looking in shops,and stopping in the cafés.With the exception of the Grand Place,the main set-piece attractions are museum collections rather than buildings.
Brussels’s central square is the jewel in its crown,a masterpiece of theatrical architecture.Watch the faces of people as they enter from one of the side streets:they look up in wonder,enthralled by its space and sparkling grandeur.Guildhouses in Flemish baroque style line the sides,embellished with gilding and sculpture.These were the powerhouses of medieval Brussels,headquarters of the traders who controlled commerce and politics,and stamped the city with its artisan pride.
Today,some–like the Roy d’Espagne–have become cherished taverns and restaurants;others are shops or offices.The west side also has the Gothic Hôtel de Ville(Town Hall,guided tours),with its great spire tipped with St Michael slaying the devil.
Opposite it is the neo-Gothic Maison du Roi,now home to the Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles(Museum of the City of Brussels;brusselsmuseums.be);this includes early versions of Brussels’s famous mascot,the Manneken Pis–the statue of the little boy doing what his name suggests,which lies a short walk away,to the west.
You should know,however,that the Grand Place is not quite what it seems:it is in fact a reconstruction,faithfully rebuilt after being flattened in 1695 by French cannons on the orders of Louis XIV.Always open.Admission free.