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What to see and do in Brussels – a guide to notable landmarks and attractions

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Brussels is the perfect destination to slip back in time and discover a quintessential capital city full of Art Deco taverns, unique Flemish art, towering Gothic cathedrals and quaint guild houses. Attractions are in abundance in the medieval style capital city. Buzzing all-round the year, discover the parks with blooming flowers, architectural monuments, historic culture and art and fill up on the infamous Belgian chocolates and huge choice of local beers.

Philippe Maters

My Destination local expert on

Brussels

Parc du Cinquantenaire

 

Surrounded by the great Mosque and the Islamic Center is Parc du Cinquantenaire, in the European District. It is otherwise known as the ‘Fifty Years Park’. Built in 1880 and covering 30 hectares it is the easternmost park of the European Quarter. The King of the time, King Leopold II wanted to provide Brussels with impressive buildings and beautiful parks. The King used former grounds of the Cinquantenaire Palace to provide an area for locals to enjoying walking in and for cultural museums to be housed within.

 

Grand Palace

 

The Grand Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been since 1998; when you see it is easy to understand why. This huge building has a striking façade with long columns, lots of gold detailing, mixture of gothic, baroque and Louis XIV architectural styling and a tall rising tower in the center. Located in the central square of the city, it is part of the most visited area in the city and was rebuilt in 1695 after an attack by the French army.

 

The Atomium

 

The Atomium is one of the most popular attractions in the capital. The 102 meter tall structure houses permanent and temporary exhibitions on Belgian history as well as science, design and society. Take a lift up to the core of the building and walk through tubes and spheres that are designed to represents a single unit cell of iron – magnified 165 billion times. The Atomium is without doubt the symbol of Brussels and offers panoramic views across the city skyline. Remember to come back at night as 2970 lights are switched on to illuminate the iconic building.

 

Mini-Europe

 

Enjoy a whistle-stop tour of Europe at Mini-Europe, located next to the Atomium. This model continent holds the main attractions of each European country. Walk around the Old Continent, and discover the whole of Europe whilst still in Brussels. Find Venice and watch the gondolas and listen to the chimes of Big Ben in the heart of London. Be interactive with the models such as the fall of the Berlin Wall or a bull-fight in Seville and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius making it great for families with young children.

 

Comic Strip Museum

 

If you’re a fan of comics, visit the Comic Strip Museum. The cartoonist Herge’s work is displayed here, who created the well-loved Belgium cartoon character, Tintin. Housed inside an old department store, observe historic comic strips and marvel at the blown up drawings and 3D reproductions. The most famous is the rocket used by Tintin to travel through space. Upstairs, the Museum of the Imagination offers an insightful look in comic strip creation along with an exhibition dedicated to Herge. What’s more, there is a library where everyone can read comic strips.