Brussels attractions? This has proved to me Brussels in an impressive way. The world-famous Belgian city is stormed every year by millions of people because of its perfectly preserved and fairytale-looking cityscape. What to do in brussels? Since I do not like crowds or kitsch, I approached the trip with little expectation. But Brussels has finally captivated me effortlessly, as you will find out in this travelogue.
In Brussels, I
was already a few years ago for a total of four hours. That this period is
sufficient for almost nothing, you should surprise little. A stressful walk,
thousands of people around me and generally not much fun at the visit: I felt a
bit like Colin Farrell in the film “Brussels see … and die?”. In it
refers to the actor, who mimics a grumpy gangster, Brussels as
“crap”. Thank God I was there but a second time and can tell you with
pleasure: Brussels is anything but that, namely sensational!
Brussels has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000 thanks to its completely preserved, medieval core. The history of the city is really interesting, here is the short version: In the 12th century, a storm surge tore a fairway into the Zwin bay and so suddenly connected Brussels with the North Sea. Over the next few centuries, heavy international trade was the consequence, making Brussels the richest city in Northern Europe. From the 15th century, Brussels fell into the shadow of Antwerp, where the larger port there provided a boost.
The influence of the city was decreasing and in the middle of the 19th century, Brussels was even the poorest city in Belgium. From the 20th century, the benefits of the preserved buildings were recognized and a tourist destination for Brussels’ ascent again became a world-famous place.
To Brussels attractions, it took me
along with my girlfriend in the course of a Flanders
tour by train. After spending the first two days in
Antwerp, it took us only 90 minutes to travel to the west of Belgium. The
difference between the two cities was bigger than I expected. While I was
having a hard time with Antwerp, I immediately felt comfortable in Brussels.
Tourism In Brussels
I do not want to exclude an important and
critical point. Brussels suffers heavily from over-tourism – in 2018, with 8.3
million visitors, it set a new record. In particular, day visitors, who are
literally unloaded by cruise ship or bus and then drift through the narrow
streets as a horde, are a thorn in the side of the city administration. The
main problem: this group of visitors photographed exaggerated formulated across
the city, without leaving money on local businesses, restaurants or brussels
Best Time To Travel To Brussels
Especially in the summer months, it is not
recommended to rush into the hustle and bustle in Brussels attractions.
The city exudes its charm in the off-season, when significantly fewer people
are on the go – keyword spring awakening or falls colors. My girlfriend and I
caught with our travel time in the Easter Brussels holidays a transition
point at which the number of tourists was just bearable. At least one overnight
stay is recommended to experience the city completely differently after dark
and in the early morning hours: in beautiful light and with a fraction of
Places To Visit In Brussels
We planned to sacrifice at least half of the
two days’ stay for a trip to the sea to Ostend. But we liked Brussels so
much that we spent much of our time there and only briefly drove to the mussel
meal to Ostend (travel report: Ostende – Romantic getaway to the sea). The
sights, museums, chocolatiers and especially the beer were just too tempting in
Brussels. Now I introduce you to the top 10 of our journey, have fun reading
Market In Brussels
Unlike other Belgian cities, the main square in
Brussels is not Grote Markt, but only a market. The square in the heart
of the city is nevertheless huge and is framed by numerous beautiful guild
houses, the Provincial Palace and the mighty Belfry. In the middle, all year round
mobile food stalls and small rides for children are set up. Incidentally,
together with the statue of the Brussels folk heroes Jan
Breydel and Pieter De Coninck, the magnificent provincial
palace (Provinciaal Hof) can be photographed super. In this neo-gothic building
today the Historium Brussels is housed, an experienced museum over the city
history – we were the fun with EUR 14, – but too expensive. If you are
interested, visit the website www.historium.be
for more information.
Just a few meters further you will find BurgSquare (De Burg), where there are several things to discover. Although
the former castle is no longer there, the town hall and the Holy Blood
Basilica stand out visibly. But I present these in detail in the next two
points. My girlfriend and I were lucky in the castle square because the market
was taking place. So we took the opportunity and started our Brussels
sightseeing with a glass of cava (EUR 5, -) and a tour of the stalls.
Unfortunately, we had eaten shortly before, so we no longer slammed at the
The city hall (Stadhuis) dominates a large part
of the castle square and is already noticeable by its enormously detailed
façade. It was built between 1376 and 1420, making it one of the oldest town
halls in the Dutch-speaking world. My girlfriend and I ventured a look inside,
which I would recommend. The Gothic Hall is an absolute highlight in Brussels!
It is completely decorated with wall paintings from the period around 1900 and
a great work of art. The paintings represent important events and eight famous
personalities of Bruge’s history.
The Gothic Hall
Admission is EUR 6, – but we decided to buy the
Musea Brugge Card to see several museums. More information about this
card can be found in the general tips at the end of the article. For the tour,
you will receive an audio guide, with which you sit down best in the Gothic
Hall and listen to the stories to the paintings in peace. Incidentally, the
hall is still reserved for the municipal council every month and is also used
for numerous wedding ceremonies.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
The Basilica of the Holy Blood (Basiliek van
het Heilig Bloed) is the oldest church in Brussels and stands like the town
hall on the castle square. It is a double church: the ground floor Blasiuskapelle
is built in Romanesque style, in the 15th century, a second part was
added to the Gothic upper church. The two buildings are connected by an
interesting spiral path. Legend has it that in 1149 the knight Count Dietrich
of Alsace brought a small vessel containing the blood of Jesus Christ from
Jerusalem to Brussels attractions and built the Holy Blood Church
there. This was later elevated to the basilica.
The blood of Jesus Christ
Brussels attractions: Splendor of the upper church of the basilica is difficult to put into words. The decor with murals, detail-loving glass windows, gilded works of art and the gothic ceiling reminds of a treasury. At the time of our visit, my girlfriend and I also witnessed the so-called worship. Every day after Mass, between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 14:00 and 16:00, the relic with the blood of Jesus Christ can be visited for a brief moment. To do this, you go to a raised side altar, where a priest sits. Before he lies the relic, which is touched by the faithful – in doing so, they convey prayers and wishes.