Brussels Journals

Bill in Belgium - BRUSSELS

Best of IgoUgo

A travel journal to Brussels by billmoy

Crousty Photo, Brussels, Belgium More Photos
Quote: Ever since my first visit to Brussels in 1991, I have thought that this cosmopolitan city is much underrated. If Paris did not exist, everyone would be talking about how wonderful the city of Brussels is. It is called Bruxelles in French and Brussel in Flemish.

Bill in Belgium - BRUSSELS

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Brussels Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
The Grand Place is one of the most beautiful and cohesively designed public squares in Europe. Stop by anytime for a real Brussels experience. The main tourism office is conveniently located at the City Hall, otherwise known as the Hotel de Ville or Stadhuis. As the capital of Belgium, Brussels is at the forefront for those who seek the best that the country has to offer. You can find a variety of top-notch beers, chocolates, foods, fries and waffles all over town. Locals may have a wide range of their own favorite choices. It is just a matter of taste as far as which ones become your favorites, and all that matters to you is that they all taste great. You really cannot go wrong once you are in ...Read More

Alfa Louise Hotel

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Hotel

Alfa Louise Hotel Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
This hotel is a fine place to stay, but it is about two miles from the center of Brussels. I love being near the Grand Place area, so this was a big drawback for me. Of course, if you love shopping and being around the ritzy and cosmopolitan Avenue Louise, this will be the perfect location for your stay. The hotel is also well suited for the suited business traveler. The Alfa Louise Hotel is in a modern mid-rise along the famed Avenue Louise, which branches off in a southeasterly direction from central Brussels. You can walk to the hotel from Gare Centrale, but it will be a substantial half-hour walk. I made the error of thinking that the hotel was about two blocks from the beginning of Avenue ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Alfa Louise Hotel
AVE LOUISE LOUISELAAN 212
Brussels, Belgium 1050
32-2-644-29-29

Marriott Brussels

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Hotel | "Brussels Marriott Hotel"

Marriott Brussels Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
The Marriott is a superb addition to the Brussels hotel scene. Opened in 2002, it benefits from an excellent location just west of the old Bourse and a mere two blocks from the Grand Place, the heart of old Brussels where you want to be. The entrance has one of those automatic revolving doors, so just hop in and do not push the glass. The lobby has that Marriott look to it, bright red and spacious with plush seating to hang out while waiting for your slower companions. There is a popular bar here where you can get a free cup of coffee or tea or step up and pay for a stiff drink. The front desk is manned with helpful staff members who are more than happy to hand you a free map of Brussels. The el...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Marriott Brussels
RUE Auguste ORTS 3-7 Grand Pl
Brussels, Belgium 1000
32-2-516-9090

Aux Armes de Bruxelles

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Restaurant

Aux Armes de Bruxelles Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
This esteemed restaurant has been serving traditional Belgian fare since 1921. It is located at the corner of two little pedestrian streets stuffed with various restaurants that are focused on luring in the unsuspecting tourist. These other places have colorful displays, multi-language menus, and touts trying to sweet-talk you into their dens of dining sin. Unlike most of its neighbors, whose food is of generally mediocre quality, Aux Armes de Bruxelles has no need for such shilling, as its marvelous food speaks for itself. You will note that the atmosphere is rather formal and old-fashioned, with white tablecloths and impeccably outfitted male waiters. This is a “man’s restaurant” where you wo...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Aux Armes de Bruxelles
Beenhouwersstraat 13 Rue des Bouchers
Brussels, Belgium 1000
+32 2 511 55 50

Bonsoir Clara

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Restaurant

Bonsoir Clara Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
This is a stylish French brasserie in the newly revived Halles Saint-Gery area just west of the Bourse. The storefront is all glass picture window at the base of a typical four-story building, except for the colorful sign reminiscent of a Mondrian or Frank Lloyd Wright design. The very curious thing is that once passersby gaze at the diverse menu on the window, they tug at one of the two doors into the restaurant, but it seems only one is open while the other is locked. Hopefully not too many people give up, as it is worth the minor frustration to taste the food here. The cozy interiors carry on the scheme of the exterior signage, with grids of colored glass embedded in the walls. I came here e...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Bonsoir Clara
Antoine Dansaertstraat 22-26 Rue Antoine Dansaert
Brussels, Belgium 1000
+32 2 502 09 90

Crousty

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Restaurant

Crousty Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
This place is my sentimental choice as my favorite place to get a Belgian waffle ever since my first visit to Brussels in 1991. It is funny, because to the unsuspecting eye, you will not even see any waffles here. This is more of a sandwich shop and bakery, which happens to have my favorite waffles in Europe. Its unassuming storefront with the red awnings and orange signage has a glass window where you can see various baked goods (including my beloved waffles) on display before you walk in. Inside are some more items behind a glass counter, including sandwiches, quiches, croissants, cookies, etc. These selections are great for a continental breakfast or a light lunch. You can enjoy your food in...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Crousty
2 Rue Des Fripiers
Brussels, Belgium
32 2 218 4736

Maison Antoine

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Restaurant

Maison Antoine Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
This fast food kiosk is in the middle of a square surrounded by streets, parking spaces, construction projects, and is not far from the European Parliament community. How the heck did this place become such a big local hit? It has some of the best frites in the city. Not French fries, but Belgian fries. One of my colleagues, who is a native of Belgium tells me that there used to be squares with plenty of carts or stalls selling hot fries in paper cones, but that nowadays most of these places are indoor joints slinging fries into little plastic trays. I suppose this spot is so popular because it is one of the dying breed of these old-fashioned stands. For a somewhat nondescript plaza, it has a ce...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Maison Antoine
1 Place Jourdan
Brussels, Belgium
0

Maison J. Dandoy

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Attraction | "Dandoy"

Maison J. Dandoy Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
This famous institution, family owned and operated for six generations and counting, has been baking and making their special sweets and treats in Brussels since 1829. Its main location is in the heart of Brussels between the Grand Place and the Bourse. There are several outlets, but this is the original store where the locals go to, so that is always a good sign. The baked goods are produced from scratch on the premises and use original rich recipes and traditional cooking methods. The items are not mass produced and they may cost a little more, but that always makes a difference in the great taste and the overall high quality of the products. Just a walk into the store is like a visit to a hi...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Maison J. Dandoy
Boterstraat 31 Rue au Beurre
Brussels, Belgium 1000
+32 2 511 03 26

Planète Chocolat

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Attraction | "Planete Chocolat"

Planète Chocolat Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
This chocolate shop and cafe is a fun place to catch a demonstration of fine chocolate artisanship and to have a snack afterwards. It is conveniently located between the Grand Place and the Mannekin Pis, so you are sure to be in the vicinity. The store sports an eye-catching sign on its facade, a bit like a wavy and gigantic chocolate heavenly body in appearance. Pretend you are the "Willy Wonka" of this factory during a demonstration here. Listen to a background summary on the history of chocolate around the world. Your host will mention the very elements of chocolate, such as a description of cocoa beans and cocoa powders, the differences between the chocolates (dark, milk and white), the man...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Planète Chocolat
Lombardstraat 24 Rue Lombard
Brussels, Belgium 1000
+32 2 511 07 55

Grand Place (Grote Markt)

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Attraction | "Grand Place"

Grand Place (Grote Markt) Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
The Grand Place lives up to its moniker as one of the most beautiful squares in all of Europe. I have visited Brussels four times and my stay was always enhanced when my accommodations were near the Grand Place. It is always a nice experience to stroll through here morning, noon and night. If you are fortunate enough to be in Brussels on a sunny day, note how the sunlight and shadows interact upon the facades and their statues. The unity of appearance within the Grand Place is no accident. Brussels was pummeled by the French in 1695, and somehow much of the City Hall (also called the Hotel de Ville in French and the Stadhuis in Flemish) was not destroyed. This allowed for architects a unique op...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Grand Place (Grote Markt)
Central Square
Brussels, Belgium 1000

Grand Place (Grote Markt)

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Attraction | "Events in the Grand Place"

Grand Place (Grote Markt) Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
There is always something happening at the Grand Place, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is a flower market in the Grand Place in the mornings and a bird market on Sundays. In the evenings, the buildings attain a golden glow thanks to creative lighting. These relatively mundane events contrast slightly with some of the large and small spectacles held here throughout the year. Here is a rundown of the most exciting events (sorry, no more executions here any more). There is the annual Brussels Jazz Marathon in May, featuring musicians at various venues across the city. There is a temporary stage at the Grand Place for free featured musical acts along with food and beer available for pu...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Grand Place (Grote Markt)
Central Square
Brussels, Belgium 1000

Manneken Pis Fountain Sculpture

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Attraction | "Manneken-Pis"

Manneken Pis Fountain Sculpture Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
It is curious that when you flip on the official tourism web site of Belgium, up pops an image of the Manneken-Pis! What a way to sell Belgium! Well, it is quite the symbol of Brussels, revered as the oldest and most famous citizen of the city. This famous fountain is located three short blocks south of the Grand Place. If you are expecting a larger than life display, you will be disappointed. It is a tiny and dark bronze statuette that is fenced in at a corner. It is amusing to see the “little man” (or Manneken) do its civic duty, which was originally to supply water to its district. During certain festivals, the boy pees beer or wine, which may represent the real-life routines of many hard dri...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Manneken Pis Fountain Sculpture
Rue De L'etuve/Stoofstraat
Brussels, Belgium 1000

Musee Horta

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Attraction

Musee Horta Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
Victor Horta (1861-1947) is the most prominent architect in the history of Belgium, and his Horta House (now the Musee Horta) is the most accomplished example of the Art Nouveau genre in Brussels and all of Belgium. The house, built from 1898 to 1901, is on a quiet residential street just outside of central Brussels and about two miles south of the Grand Place. The museum celebrates the house itself of course, but it also commemorates the life and career of the architect. Most of his finest Art Nouveau works were produced within a 10-year span hugging the turn of the century. His later career displayed more Art Deco tendencies (such as his Palais des Beaux-Arts, built in 1928, and the Gare Cen...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Musee Horta
25 Rue Americaine
Brussels, Belgium

Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee

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Attraction

Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
Yes, Brussels is the home of the Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art. The city, the self-proclaimed "comic strip capital of the world", reveres its comic strip characters as the product of an art form (the "Ninth Art"). The image of its most treasured Tintin has even appeared on commemorative silver ten-euro coins. First a bit about the building, designed by the great Belgian architect Victor Horta and a work of art in itself. The Art Nouveau structure was designed in 1903 as the Maison Waucquez department store, so it has large picture windows along its horizontal two-story front. The building was on the verge of demolition, but fortunately this museum found a home here in 1989 after a thorough...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee
20 Rue des Sables
Brussels, Belgium

Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique

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Attraction

Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
This underrated museum complex, which contains the largest and most comprehensive art collection in Belgium, consists of the Museum of Ancient Art and the Museum of Modern Art. The Museum of Ancient Art was founded in 1801 and covers works from the 14th to the 18th Centuries. Begun in 1984, the Museum of Modern Art covers the 19th and 20th Centuries and was designed by architects Roger Bastin as a subterranean gallery with eight levels arranged around a light well. The two museums are connected by an underground passage. Try to plot your course ahead of time if you want to maximize your enjoyment, as the complex is quite large. There are color-coded "tours" that you can follow if you want to view the ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique
3 Rue de la Regence
Brussels, Belgium

Atomium

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Attraction

Atomium Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
The Atomium is one of the most famous landmarks of Brussels, although it is not in the center of town. It has been compared in iconic stature to that of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but just as Paris overshadows Brussels to create an unfair comparison between the cities, so does the Eiffel make the Atomium seem less beloved. Still, the giant representation of an iron crystalline molecule (165 billion times the actual size) is impressive at first sight and is perhaps the most notable modern structure in Brussels. The Atomium was designed by architect Andre Waterkeyn in 1958 as the symbolic centerpiece for the World Fair in Brussels. It consists of nine spheres, constructed of steel coated with alum...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Atomium
Atomium Square
Brussels, Belgium 1020
32 (0)2 475 47 75

European Parliament

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Attraction

European Parliament Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
To the untrained American eye, the European Parliament is a complicated and unwieldy governing body consisting of an ever-growing membership of nations. I will not try to explain this concept here. Instead I will concentrate on the experience of visiting its architectural complex in Brussels, which is considered the Capital of the European Union (although there are also buildings in Strasbourg and Luxembourg). Officially opening in 1998, the two main buildings have polished stainless steel and reflective glass exteriors that shimmer in baby blues and grays in the sun but seem to magnify the general paleness of the skies above on bleaker days. These glossy edifices are accented with facings of m...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

European Parliament
60 Rue Wiertz
Brussels, Belgium

Antiekmarkt Zavel/Marché des Antiquités et du Livre du Sablon Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
This is the story of one church and two squares, all sharing the name of Sablon, which translates into "the Sands." They are located in an elegant area just a few blocks south of the Grand Place and just southwest of the Place Royale. The Eglise Notre-Dame-du-Sablon is a dainty Flamboyant Gothic church that separates the two plazas. The original church dates back to 1304 when it was a small chapel for the Crossbowmen’s Guild. It has been enlarged over the years because it became a pilgrimage site for those wishing to see a special statue of the Virgin Mary which was transported from Antwerp in 1359. The interiors are famed for its tall (over 40 feet high) and beautiful stained glass windows a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Antiekmarkt Zavel/Marché des Antiquités et du Livre du Sablon
Grote Zavelplein/Place du Grand Sablon
Brussels, Belgium 1000
+32 2 219 47 36

Sint-Hubertusgalerijen/Galeries Saint-Hubert

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Attraction | "Galeries Saint-Hubert"

Sint-Hubertusgalerijen/Galeries Saint-Hubert Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
These superb glass-covered shopping arcades are generally credited as the first enclosed shopping “mall” in Europe. Built in 1846 after the plans of architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer, it is located just northeast of the Grand Place. The use of the glass arcades was a technological advancement that allowed for the unification of what otherwise would be a regular street of shops into a cohesive whole. The threat of poor weather would be eliminated in a covered environment, yet the glass allowed sunlight to penetrate into the street level below and allow for a more pleasant atmosphere. This was important, because the weather in Brussels can be frequently gray and gloomy. This design set the table f...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Sint-Hubertusgalerijen/Galeries Saint-Hubert
Rue de la Montagne Bergstr. en Grasmarkt
Brussels, Belgium 1000

Halles Saint-Gery

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Attraction

Halles Saint-Gery Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
The new springs alive from the old here, as the revitalized area around the Halles Saint-Gery is now one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Brussels. It is believed that that the very origin of Brussels stems from this area along the Senne River about a thousand years ago. Let us begin with the Halles Saint-Gery, the marvelous centerpiece of this gentrifying area. This charming red brick building with its glass roof, by architect A. Vanderheggen Elles, was inaugurated as the local meat market in 1882. On the brink of demolition in 1982, it was renovated first as a shopping gallery and then recast in 1999 as a cultural center and as a regional center for the promotion of estate heritage. There a...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Halles Saint-Gery
1 Place Saint-Gery
Brussels, Belgium

Cantillon Brewery

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Attraction

Cantillon Brewery Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
The Cantillon Brewery has presented itself as the Brussels Gueuze Museum since 1978. This is the last of its kind in Brussels, a family-run brewery that uses strictly traditional methods to brew its distinctive kinds of naturally fermenting beers. The complex is located in a working-class area of Anderlecht, just west of central Brussels. Some recommended that I take a taxi here, but I hopped on one of the tram lines and that left me a few blocks from the place. It is actually even walkable from central Brussels, perhaps a 20-minute stroll or so. I was handed a booklet which allowed me to take a self-guided tour of the facilities. This institution was started by Paul Cantillon in 1900...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Cantillon Brewery
56 Rue Gheude
Brussels, Belgium

Art Nouveau and Art Deco Architecture

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Attraction | "Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture in Brussels"

Art Nouveau and Art Deco Architecture Photo, Brussels, Belgium
Quote:
Brussels and its surrounding suburbs are liberally sprinkled with Art Nouveau and Art Deco treats. Saint-Gilles, Elsene, Ixelles and Etterbeek are well-to-do residential suburbs just beyond the pentagonal ring surrounding central Brussels. Architecture buffs will enjoy wandering down quiet streets to track down works by Victor Horta and his contemporaries, and to see some pleasant surprises along the way. Horta is clearly the architectural star of Belgium. His designs featured bold exterior facades that concealed beautifully free-flowing interiors. His buildings which house the Musee Horta and Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee are covered in separate sections. The Hotel Tassel at 6 Rue Paul-Emil...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 20, 2004

Art Nouveau and Art Deco Architecture
Throughout Brussels
Brussels, Belgium