Brussels was part of our itinerary but more through convenience than anything. We'd heard a few positive comments but were more than unexpectedly surprised with what we found. And to be honest this blog comes purely from the feel and vibe of the city, the architecture, parks etc, that's without discovering some of the history and real points of interest that it has to offer.
Seen now as the Capital of Europe, being the base of the EU, Brussels is one of the most international cities in the world. The population is almost 1.2 million with over 27% being foreigners. A city known over the years for its trading and business and some of its beautiful porcelain and tapestries, that still adorn other parts of the world.
The enormous Law Courst of Brussels dominates the skyline up on the hill looking over the city. Unbelievably grand and imposing, even bigger than St Peters Bascilica in Rome, tit took 20 years to construct and amazingly it is the largest building built in the 19th century.
Considered one of the most beautiful medieval squares in all of Europe, the Grand Place is simply stunning by day and even more so by night. It's bustling with people and activities and you are surrounded by majectic buildings that look like they all have stories to tell. Truly you just want to stand there in the middle of this cobbled stone square and take a moment or two to very slowly do a 360o turn and take it all in. The architecture is exquisite with quite a cross section mainly from three different eras Gothic, Baroque and Louis X1V.
We had one day and night here so we caught a tram into the centre of the city and walked and walked from there trying to take in as much as possible. Immersing ourselves in the bustle of a big city that was alive with action, admiring and taste testing the local Belgium delicacies whenever possible!
And when we needed a rest, to build up steam before the evening, we wandered through a couple of lovely green areas. One park with grand boulevards, statues and water features that was bustling with families, couples strolling and dog walkers. Then across the way was a delightful soft spot with rambling flower gardens and plenty of inviting grassy areas.
The Mannekin Pis or The Small boy Peeing draws quite a crowd. There are various stories as to how this statue came about and all concern a small boy urinating. The 61cm tall bronze was first built in 1619 but has been replaced a few times over the years as he has gone missing mysteriously over night ( the last time some students from one of the local Uni's). The locals delight in dressing him up several times a week to celebrate, so he has quite wardrobe to boast about.
The Royal Palace was all very grand even though no longer the home of the Royal family. And masses of ornate church's, museums, monuments and even some new street art thrown in for good value.