After exploring France the second country we went to was Belgium. The only city we got to visit was the capital, Brussels. Most of the cities attractions are located together in the center of the city making everything within walking distance of one another. Although Brussels is the capital there are many other lesser known cities to visit in Belgium. We will mention both places to visit in Belgium and the main attractions in Brussels.
We started our tour of Brussels at the Grand Place, this is the city’s main square. This is where citizens hold a daily flower market and every two years they set up a flower carpet in August. Another attraction in the square is the Town Hall, this is the only remaining medieval building in the city. It has a large gothic tower with a statue of Saint Michael the patron saint of the city at the summit. Next, we walked to the other side of the square to the city’s museum, which is located at the old king’s house. The museum features paintings, sculptures, photos, and models of the town during the middle ages. Before you leave the square take a closer look at the architecture and statues of the homes surrounding the Grand Place. There are various alleyways surrounding the square, these alleyways are filled with chocolate shops, souvenir shops, food stands, and other small shops. While exploring these alleyways we made our way to Manneken Pis. This is the city’s famous peeing boy statue, of which you will see souvenirs of everywhere. Next, we made our way to the cathedral of Saint Michael and St. Gudula. This is an amazing French Gothic style cathedral with two large towers and beautiful stained glass windows. Entrance to the cathedral is free so we would highly recommend taking a few minutes to go look around inside. After the cathedral, we passed through the Mont des Arts or hill of arts, which has a great view of the city and will lead you straight to the Royal Palace. If you are interested in making a few extra stops, there are several museums such as the Musical Instrument Museum, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Magritte Museum. All these museums are located at the Place Royale and cost between 10-20 euros each. The next stop is the Royal Palace of Brussels, entrance is free however, the palace only allows visitors a few times a year. After that, we made our way to Cinquantenaire, a very large public park. One of the parks main attractions is the triumphal arch, which was built in honor of the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence. There are two museums near the arch, the first is AutoWorld it houses both European and American vintage cars. The second is the Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History, which shows uniforms, weapons, vehicles, and military equipment of all time periods and countries. Lastly, we went to Hallepoort which is a museum of the fortified citygate. This was one of the seven gates of the medieval city, but one of the last that remains. The museum shows weapons used at the tower, defense mechanisms such as murder holes, and other military information about the middle ages. This tower also gives a good view of the whole city and offers a free audio guide.
Although Brussels does have a lot of attractions, it is not the only place in Belgium worth visiting. There is a park on the outskirts of Brussels called Mini-Europe which is a scaled-down model of about 80 cities and 350 buildings. Another city worth visiting in Belgium is Ghent, this city has Gravensteen a gothic style castle from the middle ages. A couple more attractions in Ghent are Saint Bavo’s cathedral and a medieval tower called the Belfry of Ghent. Another interesting place to visit is Pairi Daiza, which is located in Brugelette, Belgium. This is a zoo, but what makes it so interesting is its unique buildings. It has everything from Chinese Gardens to an Oasis, which is a tropical greenhouse with waterfalls and animals. Another place that is out of the way, but worth it if you can fit it in would be the Caves of Han-Sur-Lesse. These caves are the result of underground erosion of limestone caused by the river Lesse. Access to the cave is only available through historic streetcar. Lastly, is the city of Antwerp, this city is in Belgium right before you get to the Netherlands border. One of the biggest attraction is Hetsteen which is a medieval fortress, that was built after the Viking incursions in the early middle ages. Other attractions in Antwerp would be the Cathedral of Our Lady, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum Aan De Stroom.
Overall, Belgium was a wonderful country to visit and we wish we would have been able to see more of it. If you want to see some pictures of Brussel make sure to watch the video below. If you haven’t already please like and follow our social media accounts and subscribe to our email letter to know when new posts are out. If you have any questions about Belgium please feel free to email us at Garvin2017@heartofanadventurer.com!