Visiting Brussels

Visiting Brussels

Brussels

Immediately when I arrived to Brussels and started exploring the city by foot I was taken back the city’s impressive architecture and beauty. I might say it’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. This is actually the first trip where I ever carried a real tripod with me, and I can’t begin to imagine how disappointed I’d be if I hadn’t. On the left is a photo of down town Brussels. The tall building in the background belongs to the city hall. The downtown parts of the capital are especially beautiful at night when the city shines a variety of colorful lights on some of their most prominent buildings.
Belgium-Brussels-Saint-Jacques-Sur-Coudenberg Belgium-Brussels-Koninklijk -Palace
Brussels City Hall Belgium Grote Markt
Above are two photos from the Grote Markt, the city square in central Brussels. On the left is the city hall during the night and on the right is the crowded square itself. I visited about ten days before Christmas, so the holiday festivals and number of travelers were at their peaks. I came back and forth through the square several times and found it was much more crowded in the evening. The Grote Markt had a Christmas tree in the center along with a church nativity.
Belgium Brussels Wedding Belgium Brussels Grote Markt Wedding
I went inside an entrance to the city hall building that took me to a small courtyard. There I saw a family descending some steps surrounded by photographers and people taking video. My first thoughts was that it was some important delegation from an African country. As they began to pose for photos and surround the couple in the center I realized it was probably a wedding. After posing for the camera they all let off some balloons into the sky.
Belgium Brussels Grote Markt Market Open Belgium Brussels Grote Markt Market Mall
The Grote Markt also has two malls that I came across. The one on the left was more European style with a main hallway and glass dome over it. Several types of shops lined each side of the building. The right photo was taken from a more traditional type mall that had clothing stores, souvenirs and a few restaurants and cafes.
Belgium Brussels Grote Markt Macaroons Belgium Brussels Grote Markt Ice Cream
Unlike any city I’ve ever been to, when you walk around Belgium you’ll find yourself bombarded with all kinds of sweet smells like chocolate, ice creams, and more. There was a time when I got a gross whiff of escargot, but otherwise I was surrounded by temptation. Most of the food is traditional, but there is a few American and Asian restaurants, and even an “Australian Ice Cream” store. Above is Belgian ice cream along with Belgian macroons.
Belgium Brussels Chocolate Store Belgium Brussels Chocolate
In Brussels there were so many chocolate stores that I wondered how they all stayed in business! A few months prior to coming to Belgium I had actually just done a chocolate tour in Washington DC. During the tour in DC we went to several chocolate stores, most of them owned by Belgian companies of course. That made it even more interesting to go to the homeland and try their chocolate from the source. With so much to choose from, I found myself buying a single 50 cent chocolate piece from several stores.
Belgium Brussels Patchface Belgium Brussels Grote Markt Christmas Carols
There were several mimes, dancers and singers in Brussels. The guy on the left I came across during a traffic stop and he was doing a performance in the middle of the street. The crowd on the right were singing Christmas songs from different languages including English, French, Dutch, and German.
Belgium Brussels Du Mont Des Arts Belgium Brussels Carillon Du Mont Des Arts
Since I didn’t do a guided tour and mostly was walking aimlessly by foot, I probably missed a lot of famous places in Brussels. By chance I just happened to walk under this building and would have thought nothing of it if it wasn’t for the crowd on the other side. I had just walked directly under the Carillon Du Mont Des Arts! I’ve seen this before in paintings and movies throughout my life, but had completely forgotten its existence until I saw it with my own eyes. The clock was built in 1958 and the twelve figures each represent important people from Belgium’s history. Some of them are real people while some are fictional characters from Belgian folklore. There are 24 bells for this clock which chime every 15 minutes. In addition there are tunes that play as well, one from the Walloon people and one from the Flemish.
Belgium Brussles St Michael Cathedral Gudula Belgium Brussles St Michael Cathedral Gudula Inside
This amazing cathedral has existed for a millennium and took nearly 300 years to complete! Below you’ll see two photos from the crypts were the ruins of the original 11th century church remain. Because the new building was built over the old one, this place is known as the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral. It’s the Belgium national cathedral and serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Malines-Brussels.
Brussels St Michael Cathedral Gudula Original Belgium Brussels St Michael Cathedral Gudula Original
Belgium Brussels Atomium Belgium Brussels Atomium
Time and time again, I always visit a place with the intention to return but it never works out. I never learn from this mistake and did it again at the Atomium. The Atomium was the first place I saw in Brussels and I decided to come back later in the evening when the light was better. Of course there were so many other things to do in Brussels that this didn’t work out. I’ve seen photos of the Atomium but beyond that didn’t know what it was for. This 102 meter or 335 foot tall building in 1958 for the Belgium world fair. I didn’t realize how big this place was until I saw it with my own eyes. I posted the left hand photo so you can get some perspective and compare it to houses in the area. Aside from its size, I was even more impressed when I learned the ‘atoms’ were exhibit rooms connected by elevators, stairs and hallways.
Belgium Brussels Koloniale Tuin Forest Belgium Brussels Koloniale Tuin
While walking to the Atomium, I saw this park along the street I was on. Turns out this was once property of the King Leopold II of Belgium. In 1900 he donated lots of property to the state with the conditions that they could never be sold, must maintain their appearance and that his successors would still have oversight on the properties. Some of these lands are still used by the royal family despite the government having control over them. This park known as the Koloniale Tuin or Jardin Colonial is open for the public. Above is a photo of the woods in the small park on the left and one of the royal traditional houses on the right.
Belgium Brussels Pond Duck Ducks
After the park above, I came across another city park with a small pond. I know the wood ducks since we have so many of them back home, I’m not sure about the species of duck on the left though.