The Pentagon (French: Le Pentagone, Dutch: Vijfhoek) is the historical center of Brussels. It derives its name from the pentagonal shape of the inner beltway that surrounds the area. The Pentagon of Brussels encompasses many charming and beautiful attractions, with deeply ornate buildings on the Grand Place/Grote Markt, and a fish-and-crustacean overdose of St. Catherine's Square (Place St-Catherine/Sint-Katelijneplein). Stroll along, (and stop in for a drink) at one of the many bars on Place St-Géry/Sint-Goriksplein, or max out your credit card on the trendy Rue Antoine Dansaert/Antoine Dansaertstraat.
The Marolles/Marollen neighbourhood close to the medieval centre is one of the few places where the Brussels dialect of Dutch (Flemish) can still be heard. The area is best known for the flea market held daily on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein as well as a plethora of shops selling everything from old radios and bent wipers to fine china and expensive Art Nouveau trinkets.
- 1 Brussels Beer Project, Dansaertstraat 188, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Th-Sa 14:00-22:00. A microbrewery in the heart of the Brussels nightlife district Dansaert, the aim of the project is to experiment with beer brewing techniques. Tours of the brewery are given on Thursdays and Fridays at 16:00, and on Saturdays at 14:00 and 15:00. These last around 15 - 30 minutes, with explanations on the project and the beer brewing processes, and is followed by a beer tasting opportunity involving 4 of the latest creations. Booking in advance is recommended, because only small groups can be welcomed. €12.
- 2 Poelaert Square (Poelaertplein) ( ). 24/7. Poelaert Square, named after the architect of the adjacent Palace of Justice, is the largest square in Brussels and provides the best view point over the city. On the border between the upper and lower city, the square is on Gallows Hill (Galgenberg), where in Medieval Brussels convicts were executed on the gallows. Famously, anatomist Andreas Vesalius frequented Gallows Hill to collect corpses of executed convicts for his anatomical research. When the weather is clear, Poelaert square offers a view over the north-western part of the city, including the city hall, the Koekelberg basilica, and the Atomium. A free elevator connects Poelaert square with the Marollen quarter of the lower city.
- 3 Het Zinneke (Zinneke Pis), crossing of Kartuizersstraat and Oude Graanmarkt. 24/7. A statue by Flemish artist Tom Frantzen, erected in bronze in 1998. It represents a peeing dog, and the canine counterpart of Mannenken Pis and Jeanneke Pis. Although often referred to as Zinnenken Pis, that name is formally incorrect according to the author. The name is derived from the river originally flowing through (and nowadays underneath) the city, Zenne, and a pejatory historic name for inhabitants of Brussels, Zinnekens. It is also a Dutch play on words of Zin hebben in which means having a desire to. The sculpture was struck by a car in 2015 and slightly damaged, it has since been restored by its creator. Many argue that Het Zinneke is the most esthetically pleasing of the 3 peeing statues in Brussels, although Mannenken Pis remains the most popular. Free.
- 4 St. Gorik Hall (Sint-Gorikshallen), Sint-Goriksplein 1 ( ). 10:00-18:00 daily. The hall is a former covered marketplace in the middle of St. Gorik Square, and in use as event space and temporary exposition area. Their history dates back to the early days of Brussels, when at its location, multiple small islands existed in the Zenne, the river flowing through (and nowadays underneath) the city. A chapel was erected in the 12th century, which was replaced by a Gothic church in the 16th century but destroyed during the French occupation between 1798 and 1801. The city cleared the rubble in 1802 and ordered the construction of a marketplace with as central point a fountain with a pyramidal shape. This fountain dates from 1767 and was a gift form the Abbey of Grimbergen, it is on display in the hall. When the Zenne was covered in 1881 and the neighborhood reorganized, construction of the current hall was commenced. After a design of architect Adolphe Vanderheggen, the building with a facade in Flemish neorenaissance style with steel skeleton was inaugurated a year later and presented a counter and four double rows of market booths. The hall remained in use throughout the first half of the 20th century, but after the Second World War it lost its significance, until closure followed in 1977. Having architectural value, the Brussels Capital Region acquired the building in 1987 and gave it a protected status. The halls were turned into an information and exposition area in 1999, and have been opened to the public ever since. There is a café inside, but visitors do not need to feel obliged to make a purchase to visit and take a look around. Free.
- 5 Halle Gate (Hallepoort) ( ), e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-F 9:30-17:00, Sa-Su 10:00-17:00. The last surviving city gate, it was part of the second walls of Brussels, and built in 1381 as an extension of the first walls which started to become too small to accommodate the growing Medieval city. It is named after the city of Halle which it faces. The original design included a portcullis and a drawbridge over a moat, the structures that housed these are still visible today. Already in the 16th century, it became evident that the fortifications and gates were insufficient to protect the city against newer siege weapons, and in 1564 the Gate was relieved of her defensive function. The function of the Halle Gate first changed to a prison, later it saw use as a customs house, as grain storage, and as a Lutheran church. At the end of the 18th century the fortifications had lost nearly all their functions, and demolishing started under pressure of the expanding city. Whereas the other 6 city gates were demolished together with the defensive walls, the Halle Gate survived because it of its function as an archive, but maintenance started to be neglected. Between 1868 and 1870, architect Henri Beyaert restored the building, changing the medieval tower to a more Neo Gothic look. The outer entrance, now facing St. Gillis, is closer to the original appearance. Beyaert added a circular tower topped by a conical roof, containing a monumental spiral staircase, as well as turrets and a large roof. The Gate became a museum in 1847 when it was assigned to the Musuem of Armour, Antiquity and Ethnology (now named the Royal Museums for Art and History). It soon became too small, and in 1889 the collection was moved to the Centenary Museum. By 1976 the building was in a dangerous state of disrepair which forced it to be closed to the public. Lack of funding stalled restorations, and part of the Gate was reopened in 1991 but only for temporary exhibitions. New extensive restorations began in 2007, and the Gate was returned to its 19th-century glory a year later when it reopened with its prestigious entrance completely restored. The Gate houses a permanent exhibition on its history, and on the defenses of the city. The collection includes parade armor of Archduke Albert of Austria, among many other armaments and armour. The Guild Room offers an impression on the history and importance of guilds in medieval Brussels. The walkway around the battlements offers visitors a wonderful panorama of the city. adults €7, seniors €5, childen and students €3.
- 6 Hill of Arts (Kunstberg), Kunstberg ( or ). 24/7. The hill (often referred to its historic French name Mont des Arts, literally Mountain of Arts) is the northern slope of the Koudenberg, and roughly halfway between the Royal Palace and the Grand Place. One of the first and oldest residential neighborhoods of Brussels, the St. Rochus Quarter (Sint-Rochuswijk in Dutch) was here. By the 15th century, the quarter had become a ghetto for Jews, and to contain the problem, large sections of the quarter were claimed by the city for the construction of administrative buildings and palaces. Between the 15th and 18th century, monumental palaces were constructed: the Palace of Nassau from 1440 to ca. 1750, the Palace of Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine (1757), the Granvelle Palace (1555-1931) and the Palace of the Coudenberg (mid 14th century until 1731). At the end of the 19th century, King Leopold II launched the idea to transform what was left of the St. Rochus Quarter into the cultural heart of Belgium, and finally deal with the problem. Various architects made designs for the hill, and King Leopold II himself acquired all the properties in the meedieval quarter, which were subsequently razed, and the Jews were expelled to Antwerp where they still thrive today. Only the Palace of Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine and the Granvelle Palace were preserved. Unfortunately, the Belgian government refused to fund the king's project, and for 8 years the large area remained an unused brownfield, and an eye sore in the heart of the capital. With the upcoming World Fair of 1910, King Leopold II commissioned Parisian architect Pierre Vacherot to hastilty find a new purpose for the area. He designed a monumental staircase with numerous fountains, waterfalls and sculptures. The park was inaugurated by the king's successor and son, King Albert I, in 1910 after the death of his father. When Brussels prospered after the Second World War and funding was no longer a problem, the original project was revived, and many buildings constructed that remain today: the Royal Albertina Library, the Congress Palace, and the Dynasty Palace. The current layout follows a design of architect Jules Ghobert, whereas the Albertina was designed by Maourice Houyoux. The park gradually shrunk to make room for these new buildings, as well as for parking garages and the Central Station. The current park, Tuin van de Kustberg in Dutch (literally: garden of the Hill of Arts), was a design of garden architect René Pechère, which were complemented with a few new buildings for the 1958 World's Fair. The staircase offers visitors one of the most spectacular views over the city, looking out over the Grand Place. When the weather is clear, the Koekelberg Basilica and even the Atomium can be seen in the distance. Free.
- 7 Black Tower (Zwarte Toren), Sint-Katelijneplein 29 ( ). The best conserved remnant of the city's first fortifications, built in the early 13th century. When the second fortifications were built at the end of the 14th century, adapting city defenses to its growth in size, the towers original function became obsolete. Ownership was transferred to a private landlord, which allowed the tower to survive unharmed over the course of the centuries. For example, it survived the construction of a new dock in the 16th century where the St. Catherine Church is now, and was transformed into a tavern for the dock workers and sailors called "In the Tower". It was threatened by demolition in 1888 when the street was dug open for the construction of sewage pipes, but then mayor Charles Buls saved the tower with a veto and assigned architect Victor Jamaer to restore it. The gable and roof are new additions that were added during these restoration efforts. As the old city made room for new developments, the tower became increasingly isolated, first surrounded by a clothing store in the 19th century and later by a hotel. It is protected as cultural heritage since 1937, and plays an important role in popular culture, most notably the adventures of Belgian comic hero Nero by Marc Sleen.
- 8 Martyrs' Square (Martelarenplein) ( ). 24/7. The political center of Belgium, with offices of the Flemish government, including the cabinet of the prime minister. Its one of the architectural highlights in Brussels, erected in a uniform neoclassical style between 1774 and 1778 by architect Claude Fisco. It was originally named the St. Michael square after the patron of the city, but the French occupiers didn't like places named after saints and renamed it the Bleachery square for the textile bleaching fields that used be here. During the Belgian Revolution in 1830, intense guerrilla combat took place on and around the square between the Dutch royal forces and the revolutionaries. There were reportedly so many casualties on the revolutionary side that evacuation of the corpses from the city was not practical, thus it was decided to bury them under the square. The Belgian interim government decided to make the square a national cemetery for the casualties of the revolution. A statue and crypt were constructed shortly afterwards, in 1838, and over 400 revolutionaries are buried beneath the cobblestones of the square, many not far from where they were shot amid the Brussels streets and barricades. The Pro Patria statue is a sculpture from the royal sculpture of the first Belgian king Leopold I, Willem Geefs. After the statue and crypt were completed, the name of the square was changed to Martyrs' Square, a name it still holds today. Because of its history and political significance, political demonstrations are commonly organized at the square to protest the collapsing Belgian democracy and civil liberties since the 1990s.
Joseph Poelaert and Victor Horta
- 10 Palace of the Nation (Federaal Parlement en Senaat), Natieplein 2 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The seat of the Belgian federal government, with Federal Parliament, and Chamber of Representatives, and the Senate. The history of the building dates back to 1779 when it was commissioned by Maria Theresia of Austria under Austrian rule of Brussels. It was erected in a classicist style, and commissioned in 1783. It was never used by the Austrian regime: Maria Theresia had died before the building was finished, so its first use was as seat of the Sovereign Council of Brabant, the highest court of the governing body of the Duchy of Brabant. Under French rule, the courts were established along with prisons in the cellars. When Brussels became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, the building served as the seat of the General Assembly which alternated between Brussels and The Hague. The plenum hall was built in 1817, with a typical green hemisphere in neoclassical style with colonnade. The palace was completely burned down in 1820, but the Dutch king liberated the funding to rebuild it in 1822. After the Belgian Revolution 8 years later, the Provisional Government and the National Congress took over the building. A statue of King Leopold I was mounted in front of the plenum hall, the throne for the Dutch king was removed and replaced with a podium for the chairman along with a lectern so that the room could be used as Chamber of Parliament from 1831 onwards. The senate hall dates from 1843, and additional space for offices were added along the way. Corridors have since been decorated with busts of former prime ministers and portraits of chamber presidents. In 1883, however, the building was burned down again: its dome collapsed and the meeting room was completely destroyed. The entire library of the Chamber also went up in flames, and in addition to the entire contents of the Palace, the original Constitution of Belgium was also lost. The building was reconstructed under guidance of architect Hendrik Beyaert in 1884, and retains much of its original outlook today. Visiting the Palace is free, but due to its popularity, a visit should be booked at least 2 months in advance. A guided tour takes 90-120 minutes, and starts with a short film about the functions of the Federal Parliament, and continues with visits to the Chamber of Parliament and the Senate along with the various commissions and historical rooms. When visiting the palace during week days, there is a strong chance of random encounters with national and international politicians. However, security is tight: there is airport style security checks at the entrance, no filming or photos are allowed, and all jackets and backpacks must be placed in a locker (€2 coin necessary). Only bring the strict minimum! Free.
- 11 Congress Column, Congresplein ( ), ☎ . A monumental column commemorating the creation of the Belgian Constitution by the National Congress of 1830-1831 for the Belgian independence. Designed by Joseph Poelaert in 1850 and inspired on the Trajan's Column in Rome, the column features a statue of first Belgian king Leopold I at its top, by artist Guillaume Geefs. It symbolizes the kings defeat of the Jews. Construction took 9 years, and was completed in 1959. With a height of 47 m, the column dominates the surrounding neighborhoods. A spiral staircase of 193 steps inside the column leads to a platform surrounding the pedestal of the statue of the king. The pedestal is surrounded by 4 statues personifying the 4 freedoms guaranteed under the constitution: freedom of education, freedom of association, freedom of religion, and freedom of press. The important dates in the struggle for Belgian independence are engraved on the pedestal, together with the names of the members of the National Congress and the Provisional Government, along with important passages from the constitution itself. In front of the monument, 2 bronze lions by Eugene Simonis stand guard, symbolically protecting the constitution.
- 12 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Congresplein. On 11 November 1922, exactly 4 years after the First World War ceasefire, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was inaugurated by king Albert I. A total of 5 coffins from fallen soldiers whose names and military grades were unknown, had been dug up the days before from military cemeteries. At those cemeteries, soldiers were buried who had been killed during the war in battles in Antwerp, Liege, Namur, and at the Yser front line during the liberation offense for Flanders. The coffins were transferred to the Bruges train station where blind war veteran Raymond Haesenbroeck randomly chose one. He chose the 4th, which from that moment became a symbol of all unidentified victims of war who sacrificed themselves for the Belgian fatherland, and buried under an unnamed cross. The coffin was then transported to Brussels by train, and towed to the Congress Column by a truck along a honorary hedge formed by war disabled and deportees. The soldier was buried at the base of the Congress Column, a symbol of the independent Belgian monarchy. It immediately became a place of solemny for Belgian patriotism, and by doing so, Belgium followed the Unknown Soldier memorial tradition that had started in London and Paris in 1920. The reason of the delay is that, unlike its French and Brittish counterparts, the initiative for the Tomb was taken by veterans supported by ordinary citizens instead of the Belgian government. This forced politicians to support an initiative for the commemoration of fallen soldiers, political prisoners, and civilian victims of war. After the Second World War, the Tomb became a symbol of war casualties of any war, with a traditional Eternal Flame.
- 13 Law Courts (Palais de Justice/Justitiepaleis), Place Poelaert—Poelaertplein ( ), ☎ . M-F 08:00-17:00. Built between 1866 and 1883 in eclectic style by celebrated architect Joseph Poelaert, the Courts are the most important of their kind in Belgium. The total cost of the construction, land and furnishings was 45 million Belgian Francs, or 1.1 million euro. A notable landmark in Brussels, it is said to be the largest building constructed in the 19th century, and larger than the St. Peter's basilica in Rome: it is 160 m by 150 m, with a total build surface of 26.000 m². The 104 m high dome weighs 24.000 tons. The building has 8 courtyards with a surface of 6.000 m², 27 large court rooms and 245 smaller court rooms. Its conception started in 1860, when Belgium was only 30 years old, during the reign of King Leopold I who announced the building of the courts with a royal decree, followed by an international architectural contest for its design. All entered designs were found to be unacceptable and rejected however, and then minister of justice Victor Tesch appointed Joseph Poelaert as the designer. Poelaert died in 1879, four years before the building was finally completed. For its construction, a section of the Marollen neighborhood had to be demolished, leading to the expropriation and forced relocation of hundreds of inhabitants. As a result, the word architect became one of the most serious insults in Brussels! Ironically, Poelaert himself lived in a house only a few hundred meters away of the construction site, in the Marollen. The location of the courts is symbolic, being the hill where convicted criminals were hanged during the Middle Ages. The building includes many interior statues by sculptor Pierre Armand Cattier, and figures of Roman jurists Cicero and Ulpian, by Antoine-Félix Bouré. According to a story, Adolf Hitler was so fond of the building that he dispatched Albert Speer to study it in 1940. Events turned out unfavorably however, and at the end of the Second World War, the retreating Germans started a fire in the courts in an attempt to destroy them, leading to the collapse of the cupola and heavily damaging other parts of the building. By 1947 most of the damage was repaired, and the cupola rebuilt 2.5 meters higher than the original. In 2003 a new series of renovations have begun, aiming to strengthen the roof structure and walls, and applying a new layer on the gilded cupola. Because of financial problems the renovation works are progressing slowly, however, and in 2013 it was determined that the decade-old scaffolding was, ironically, in need of renovation itself because it had started to rust and became unsafe. Free.
- 14 Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis/Palais Royal), Place des Palais/Paleizenplein (across Warande Park), ☎ . The ceremonial royal palace, where foreign statesmen are received by the King of Belgium. Has a park out front. Free when open, from the National Holiday of 21 July until September. Closed otherwise.
Museums and galleries
- 15 Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique - Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium), Rue de la Régence-Regentschapstraat 3, at Place Royale-Koningsplein, ☎ . Museum of Historical Art: Tu-Su 10:00—12:00 and 13:00—17:00; Museum of Modern Art (Magritte Museum) Mar: Tu-Su 10:00—13:00 and 14:00—17:00. Features both historical art and modern art in the one building. In a vast museum of several buildings, this complex combines the Musée d'Art Ancien-Museum voor Oude Kunst and the Musée d'Art Moderne-Museum voor Moderne Kunst under one roof (connected by a passage). The collection shows off works, most of them Belgian, from the 14th to the 20th century, starting in the historical section, with Hans Memling's portraits from the late 15th century, which are marked by sharp lifelike details, works by Hiëronymus Bosch, and Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve. You should particularly seek out the subsequent rooms featuring Pieter Brueghel, including his Adoration of the Magi. Don't miss his unusual Fall of the Rebel Angels, with grotesque faces and beasts. But don't fear, many of Brueghel's paintings, like those depicting Flemish village life, are of a less fiery nature. Later artists represented include Rubens, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt. Next door, in a circular building connected to the main entrance, the modern art section has an emphasis on underground works - if only because the museum's eight floors are all below ground level. The collection includes works by van Gogh, Matisse, Dalí, Tanguy, Ernst, Chagall, Miró, and local boys Magritte, Delvaux, De Braekeleer and Permeke. Don't miss David's famous "Death of Marat." €8.00 adults per museum or €13 combo ticket, €2.50 students/seniors/disabled visitors, €1.25 children 12-18, under 12 free. Also free on the first Wednesday afternoon of every month.
- 16 Musée Magritte Museum, 1 Place Royale-Koningsplein 1, ☎ , fax: . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00 W until 29:00. Closed Mondays, Jan 1, 2nd Th of Jan, May 1, Nov 1 and 11, Dec 25. This museum is dedicated to the life and art of the Belgian artist René Magritte. It holds a multidisciplinary collection containing more than 200 of Magritte's works. Standard rate: €8, Combi with Modern & Ancient Art Museum: €13, Students 18-25 years and school groups min. 12 pers.: €2. Audioguide: €4.
- 17 BELvue Museum (Musée BELvue), Paleizenplein-Place des Palais 7, ☎ . Jun-Sep: Tu-Su 10:00-18:00; Oct-May: Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Features Belgium's history. Before it became a museum, the 18th-century luxury hotel was a royal residence. BELvue: €3, Coudenberg: €4, BELvue + Coudenberg: €5.
- 18 Belgian Comic Strip Center (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, Belgisch Centrum van het Beeldverhaal), Rue des Sables—Zandstraat 20, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00—18:00. Located in Europe's earliest shopping mall (a shiny Jugendstil/Art Nouveau palace). There is a permanent exposition featuring the early beginning of comics as well as it's development. There is enough room for other varying expositions. The bookshop at the ground floor sells many different comics. A readers' library operates on the ground floor, where, for a low entrance fee, you can read many different comic books and buy fries. €10 adults, €6 students/seniors.
- Musée du Cinéma-Filmmuseum, Palais des Beaux-Arts-Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, 9 rue Baron Horta—Baron Hortastraat 9 (walk from Gare Centrale-Centraalstation), ☎ . A history of film-making. Free to look around; classic and cult films are shown at low prices.
- 19 Musical Instruments Museum (Musée des Instruments de Musique or Muziekinstrumentenmuseum), Montagne de la Cour—Hofberg 2, ☎ . Tu-F 09:30-16:45, Sa Su 10:00-16:45. The museum houses more than 7000 instruments, from all times and all over the world. The museum’s reputation is built on its extraordinary collection. The exhibits are displayed on four different floors featuring a wide range of instruments from all time periods and areas of the world. The MIM is a place to experience music. An infrared headphone system allows each visitor to enjoy the sound and melodies played by the instruments presented. The restaurant on the roof is also famous because of its panoramic view over Brussels. You need around 3 or 4 hours to really enjoy the whole museum, make sure you have enough time! The ornate façade of the building was decorated as such to promote the work of local tradesman and to protest the loss of jobs due to automation. There is no exhibition information in English, only in French and Dutch. Adults €8; over 65 €6; under 26 €2.
- 20 Musée Juif de Belgique - Joods Museum van België (Jewish Museum of Belgium), 21 Rue des Minimes—Miniemenstraat 21, ☎ . Tu-Su 10:00—17:00. Dedicated to the craft, folk art, culture and religion of the Jewish people in Belgium. Standard rate: €5, Concession €3. Free entrance on the first Sunday of the month.
- 21 Oldmasters Museum, Regentschapsstraat 3, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 10:00-17:00, Sa-Su 11:00-18:00. The museum hosts a remarkable collection of paintings from the Old Masters, with masterpieces from Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, Drik Bouts, Hans Memling, Hieronymus Bosch and many others. For the 16th century, Pieter Bruegel the Elder is magnificently represented with major works like The Fall of the Rebel Angels or The Census at Bethlehem. The 17th and 18th centuries are covered by work from the Flemish School, represented by Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacques Jordaens, with minor works from the Italian and French schools on display as well. The majority of the collection originated during the French Revolution, when many works of art were seized by the occupating forces, works from religious institutions in particular. The museum was founded in 1801 by Napoleon Bonaparte himself, but it was only in 1830 after Belgium gained independence that the museum became a major institution. The last major addtion to the collection dates from 1913, when de Grez donated over 4 000 works on paper dating from the 16th to 19th centuries, including works from Hendrick Goltzius, Jacques de Gheyn the Younger, and Rembrandt. Admission to the museum is free on the 1st Wednesday of each month. adults €8, seniors €6, children €2, below 15 free.
- 22 Coudenberg Museum (Coudenbergpaleis), Paleisplein 7, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-F 07:30 - 17:00. From the middle ages, a castle overlooked Brussels from Coudenberg hill. From the 12th century, the successive monarchs and their representatives transformed a small fortified castle into a sumptuous residential palace, one of the most beautiful palace of Europe and one of Charles V’s main residences. This prestigious building is severely damaged by fire in 1731. Some forty years later, the ruins of the palace are pulled down and the ground flattened out for the construction of the new royal district. The remains of this palace make up the Coudenberg archaeological site. During your visit, you will discover the Isabella Street and the old structures of the main buildings of the former palace of Brussels, which are now the foundations for today’s royal district and the Hoogstraeten House where the most interesting discoveries made during the various archaeological excavations conducted on the Coudenberg are displayed. €7.
- 23 Sewer Museum (Riolenmuseum), Octrooipaviljoen - Anderlechtse Poort, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Sa 10:00 - 17:00. The Sewer Museum invites you on an unusual trip into a very hidden side of Brussels but which is absolutely vital for the running of the city. Unlike the other museums, this one is active, with the Senne river playing the leading role. A museum that tells the story of when, why and how the sewers were built, describes the jobs that people do in this underground world and explains the city's water cycle. €8.
- 24 Museum of the Turn of the Century (Musée Fin-de-Siècle), Regentschapsstraat 3, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-F 10:00-17:00, Sa-Su 11:00-18:00. The museum is deidcated to art of the period between 186, when the Free Society of Fine Arts was founded in Brussels, and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The museum opened in 2013 and houses a collection of artworks from Constantin Meunier, James Ensor, Henri Evenepoel, Fernand Khnopff, Léon Spillaert and many others. It aims to celebrate the richness of the period in literature, architecture, photogrpahy, opera, music and poetry, featuring works by Maurice Maeterlinck, Emile Verhaeren, Octave Maus, Victor Horta, Henry Van de Velde, Maurice Kufferath, and Guillaume Lekeu. The artworks are grouped into 4 themes: Discovery of matter, in other eyes, Eruption of color, enchantment of light, New expressions, and Modernity. Free admission to the museum the 1st Wednesday of each month from 13:00. adults €8, seniors €6, children and students €2, children below 5 free.
- 25 Museum of Erotics and Mythology (MEM), Sint-Annastraat 32 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: Info@m-e-m.be. M, Th-F 14:00-20:00, Sa-Su 11:00-17:30. A small museum dedicated to the history of erotic art from antiquity until today. It is a private collection, one of the most attractive in Europe, housed in an 18th century house near the Sablon. On display are paintings, sculptures, Greco-roman antiquities, ivory, Japanese prints and other curiosities. The purpose of the museum is to show the existence of eroticism since the discovery of sexual pleasure by humankind. The museum is an initiative by Guy Martens in 2012, and a result of his life long passion for erotic art. The collection covers over 800 different pieces. €10.
- 26 Marc Sleen Museum, Zandstraat 33-35 ( ), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 11:00-13:00, 14:00-18:00. A tribute to Marc Sleen, among Belgiums most famous comic artists, best known for his series The Adventures of Nero which ran continuously for half a century from 1947 to 2002, making it one of the longest running comic series. Together with Suske en Wiske, Jommeke and Kiekeboe, it is regarded as one of the "great four" Flemish comics. The museum honors Sleen and his work, opening in 2009 in presence of Marc Sleen himself, and king Albert II who claims to be among Nero's biggest fans. The location of the museum is symbolic since Sleen started his career as a cartoonist for the newspaper De Nieuwe Gids, whose offices were in the building of the present museum. It is managed by the Marc Sleen Foundation, and exhibits original art work, memoralia, and an overview of Sleens long and versatile career. Sleens favorite themes are omnipresent: safari, political cartoons, and the Tour de France. The museum has an archive of over 15,000 drawings in its basement, occasionally on display for temporary exhibitions. All displays are in Dutch and English. Nero comics can be purchased in the museum's shop, including the unique story The Ghost of Sand Street, which is available as a souvenir to visitors. The museum also organizes special tourist routes through Brussels, based on locations that appeared throughout the Nero comic book albums: the Black Tower at St. Catherine, the Law Courts, the Central Station, Mannenken Pis, and so on. Adults €2.50, children €1.
- 27 Museum of Cinematography (Cinematek), Baron Hortastraat 9 ( ), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Museum for cinema, with an exhibition focussing on objects and discoveries that represent the many steps leading to the invention of cinema: from Thomas Edison and the Lumière brothers, through the phenakistiscope of Joseph Plateau. Many displays are interactive, with mechanisms to operate the devices to understand their operation better. Interactive consoles allow visitors to watch short and medium length films, and a small video projection room broadcasts additional images of filmmakers, trailers, commercials, and short films. The archives and library of the film association, along with documentation, books, and magazines, are also on display along with relevant Belgian press cuttings and photos. The museum features 2 rooms: the Ledoux room with 117 seats, and a small auditorium with 29 seats, where 40 films per week are screened. Silent films are accompanied by piano, or with restored sound where available. Until its destruction in 2006, the museum operated the last authentic mute cinema room in the world. Adults €4, children €2.
- 28 Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula (Sint-Goedele kathedraal), Sint-Goedeleplein, Treurenberg, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 7:30-18:00, Sa 7:30-15:30, Su 14:00-18:00. Recognizable as a copy of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, the cathedral of Brussels has a long history. A chapel dedicated to St. Michael was built on the Treurenberg hill as early as the 9th century, which was replaced by a Romaneque church in the 11th century. Relics of martyr St. Gudula were donated by the Count of Leuven in 1047, and by the 13th century the Duke of Brabant, Henry I, ordered the addition of 2 towers to the small church. It was only in 1226 that his successor, Henry II, instructed the construction of a Gothic church. The choir was completed by 1276, but it took over 300 years to finish the entire cathedral, just before the reign of emperor Charles V began in 1519. The dimensions of the monumental building are impressive: with an exterior length of 114 m by 57 m in width, and towers 64 m high, the cathedral remains one of the largest and tallest buildings in the city to date. It is constructed with a light colored stone quarried from the Gobertange quarry 45 km south-east of the site. The two towers, the upper parts of which are arranged in terraces, are a design from Flemish architect Jan Van Ruysbroeck, who also designed the tower of the Town Hall on the Grand Place. The south tower hosts a carillon with 49 bells, of which the Salvator bell was cast by Peter van den Gheyn. The choir is Gothic and contains the mausoleums of the Dukes of Brabant and Archduke Ernest of Austria, dating from the 17th century. The marble and alabaster altarpiece depicting the Passion of the Christ by Jean Mone is dated 1538. Since the 1990s, the cathedral towers have been the home of a couple of falcons nesting in the northern tower. With the falcon chicks performing acrobatic feats on the cathedral's gargoyles, a camera was installed broadcasting a live stream of their adventures. Free.
- 29 Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon (Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ten Zavelkerk), Regentschapsstraat 9 ( ). The history of this Roman Catholic church dates back to the early 13th century when Henry I, Duke of Brabant, recognized the Noble Serment of Crossbowmen as a guild, thereby granting them privileges and allowing them to build a small chapel on a plot of land just outside the city walls, then known as the Zavel after the structure of the sand. It became known as the chapel of the Crossbow Guild. According to the legend, a local devout named Beatrijs Soetkens, had a vision in which the Virgin Mary instructed her to steal a statue from the cathedral of Antwerp, bring it to Brussels, and place it in the chapel of the Crossbow Guild. Through some miraculous events she managed to bring the statue to Brussels by boat in 1348, and venerated as the patron of the Guild. From then on, they held an annual procession through the city, called the Ommegang, which grew into an important religious event. The construction of the current church, which replaced the chapel, started in the 15th century and lasted almost a century. The choir was finished in 1435, as testified by mural paintings of that date. In the 16th century the church was sacked by Calvinists, and the statue brought by Beatrijs Soetkens was destroyed. After demolition of the city walls and completion of the Regentschapsstraat in 1872, numerous buildings constructed adjacent to the church were torn down, and the construction turned out to be heavily dilapidated. Renovations were carried out immediately, and the church was restored to its former glory. With its 24 m width and 65 m height, it remains one of the most important gothic brabantine churches in Belgium. Free.
- 30 St. Catherine Church (Sint-Katelijnekerk), Sint-Katelijneplein ( ). One of the larger Roman Catholic churches in Brussels, it was constructed between 1854 and 1874 in a wide variety of architectural styles after a design of architect Joseph Poelaert (who had gained fame with the construction of the Palace of Justice), and finished by Poelaerts apprentice Wynand Janssens. The building used to be at the end of the St. Catherine dock next to the Willebroek canal. It has overlooked the Fish Market (Vismet) since the decommissioning and dredging of the dock in 1870, with only ponds on the market square giving visitors an impression how it used to look like. The surrounding street names Baksteenkaai (Brick Wharf) and Brandhoudkaai (Firewood Wharf) are still a reminder of the industrial heritage of the quarter. Points of interest inside the church are a 14th century statue of the black Madonna and a painted wooden sculpture of Catherine of Alexandria complete with the wheel on which she was tortured.
- 31 St. Catherine's Tower (Sint-Katelijnetoren), Sint-Katelijneplein. The bell tower of the 15th century church preceding the current St. Catherine's Church. The church was demolished in 1893 to make room for the new and larger design, but the baroque tower dating from 1629 was preserved. It was restored between 1913 and 1930, and has been classified as a historical monument.
- 32 Church of Our Lady of the Chapel (Kapellekerk), Kapellemarkt ( ). One of the most famous Gothic Catholic churches in Brussels, it derives its name from a chapel outside the city walls founded by the duke of Brabant in 1134. It started as a church in roman-gothic style in 1250, followed by a gothic choir a quarter century later. Destroyed by a fire in 1405, the church was rebuilt in a Brabantian Gothic style between 1421 and 1483, with the exception of the west tower. Shortly after the French assault of 1695, the tower was completed in its characteristic baroque style, a design of masonry expert Antoon Pastorana. The interior of the church is decorated with many engravings and sculptures, including work of Hiëronymus Duquesnoy de Jonge and Lucas Faydherbe. The church also serves as a tomb for Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel de Oude, one of the Flemish Masters, who was buried here in 1569.
- 33 Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception (Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Onbevlekt-Ontvangenkerk), Vossenplein 23B. This Italian neo-Romanesque church was built to the north-west side of the Fox Square between 1854 and 1862, and was part of the Capucin convent. Its history dates back to 1587 when Parma requested the Capucines to settle in Brussels. Unfortunately, in 1796 their monastery was raided by the French during their occupation of Belgium, and sold just like most other religious buildings at the time. The Capucines returned in 1852 and the church was built to allow them to settle near the Fox Square. Charle-Albert manufactured the oak altar, with other interior elements made by Oscar Tinel. The church received considerable media attention when prince Laurent celebrated his marriage with a service here, although the actual wedding took place in the St. Gudula and St. Michael Cathedral.
- 34 Church of Our Lady of Finistere (Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van de Finisterekerk), Finisterraestraat 28 ( ). Iconic church in Brussels New Street, the most popular shopping district in the city. Its history dates back to the 15th century, when a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady Mary was erected near the allotments just outside the boundaries of the city, with a little exaggeration "Finis Terrae" or literally "the end of the domain". It was destroyed during the invasion of the Dutch during the Dutch War of Independence in revolt against the Spanish, but rebuilt in 1617. Under pressure of the expanding city, the chapel became too small in the 17th century and was replaced with a church in 1646, although also that one had to be enlarged 10 years later. Construction of the current church started in 1708 and finished by 1730, led by architect Willem De Buryn and sculptor Hendrik Frans Verbruggen. The church in baroque architecture is three-aisled with a nave, two side aisles and a semi-circular choir, without a transept. It hosts paintings of Gaspar de Crayer, Joseph van Severdonck, and Charles de Groux. The pulpit is a design of Simon Joseph Duray from 1758. It depicts the Fall of Man between the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Moses with the tables of the law and Aaron represent the old covenant. The crucified Christ is the new Tree of Life. Of peculiar interest is a sculpture from 1625, present in the church since 1814 but originally from Aberdeen, it is said to bring luck with gambling and exams. The organ of the church, a design from 1856 by Hippolyte Loret, was restored in 1999 by Thomas and Jean Ferrard.
- 35 Beguinage Church (Begijnhofkerk), Begijnhofstraat ( ), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The church was founded as the church of the Notre-Dame de la Vigne (Our Lady of the Vineyard) Beguinage, which was founded before 1247 outside the first Brussels city walls. Located near today's Beguinage Square, the community of beguines (lay women who lived a communal life but were not bound by perpetual vows) consisted of a small village with individual dwellings for each beguine, a mill, laundry facility, and a flower and vegetable garden, all enclosed in a wall. As part of their commune, the beguines constructed an infirmary and a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Vineyard. The largest of the 3 court beguinages in Brussels, the community grew rapidly and had reached a population of 1200 beguines by the end of the 13th century. The Beguine Quarter remained an important religious stronghold throughout the Middle Ages. They spent their days weaving wool and, from the 16th century onward, also started making lace. During the Calvinist occupation of Brussels from 1577 to 1585, their Gothic chapel was destroyed, and the beguines decided to rebuild it in a Baroque style in 1657. Designed by Flemish architect Lucas Faydherbe, the church is a notable illustration of the Italian-influenced Flemish Baroque style of the 17th century. Its facade is considered to be among the most beautiful in Belgium. However, during the French occupation in 1797 the beguines were evicted and the church was closed. The beguinage was leveled, and streets were laid out for redevelopment. Only the infirmary survived, and was renovated and transformed into a hospital. The church itself was reasonably well preserved, an renovated after it was damaged by a fire in 2000. The rear tower is a Baroque interpretation of the city hall tower.
- 36 Coudenberg Church (Sint-Jacob-op-Koudenbergkerk), Koningsplein ( ), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A neoclassical church on the historic King's Square, overlooking the lower city and offering a magnificent view over the Grand Place (particularly at dusk!). It started as a medieval abbey church, which was demolished by Charles Alexander of Lorraine during his expansive urban planning projects, despite having escaped the great fire of 1731 that destroyed the nearby Coudenberg Palace. The church was designed by architect Gilles-Barnabé Guimard, and the first stone was laid down by Charles Alexander himself in 1776. After consecration o the building, it was used as an abbey- and parish church simultaneously, and in addition it was the official church of the court of the Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands. Since it was designed to serve ad the church of the abbey of Saint-Jacques, it has a deep extended choir with place for choir stalls for the monks. During the French Revolution, as with all other religious buildings, the abbey was suspended and the church converted into a Temple of Reason, but restored to Catholic control in 1802. It played an important role in the inception of the Belgian monarchy 30 years later, when the first Belgian king, Leopold I, made his oath on the front steps of the church. Although the building lost some of its typical neoclassical temple-like appearance by the addition of a bell tower in the 19th century and a coloured fresco on the pediment, it remains one of the most unusual examples of religious architecture in Brussels.
The Bozar Center for Fine Arts
The Centre for Fine Arts (Paleis voor Schone Kunsten - Palais des Beaux-Arts), Rue Ravensteinstraat 23, ☎ . It is often referred to as "Bozar" or "PSK". Construction was completed in 1928 and includes exhibition and conference rooms, movie theater and concert hall which serves as home to the National Orchestra of Belgium. The complex contains a large concert hall, a recital room, a chamber music room, lecture rooms and a vast gallery for temporary exhibitions. Since 2002, the Belgian federal institution has chosen the brand name Bozar. It has the following eight artistic departments:
- Bozar Architecture. Open to the public with exhibitions and lectures working in close collaboration with the Information Centre for Architecture, Town Planning and Design.
- Bozar Cinema. Has showings of quality films for the general public, a special series for Young Film Fans (in the Henry Le Boeuf Hall), and cross-fertilising events that explore connections between cinema, video, and the other arts (Terarken rooms, Horta Hall).
- Bozar Dance. Hosts international contemporary dance productions.
- Bozar Expo. Has many exhibitions every year, in cooperation with the most prestigious international institutions, alternating the great collections with contemporary art, various national heritages, and support for young artists.
- Bozar Literature. Hosts meetings with Belgian and foreign writers.
- Bozar Music. Concerts in almost a dozen venues, both at the Centre for Fine Arts and elsewhere in Brussels, with Western classical music from the Middle Ages to our times, as well as non-European classical music, traditional music, jazz, blues, rock, etc. in a great variety of line-ups and genres, from chamber ensembles to big bands, from recitals to concert performances of opera.
- Bozar Theatre. Oriented towards avant-garde theatre.
- Bozar Studios. The Centre’s educational service, operating as an artistic department in its own right.
- 1 UGC De Brouckère, Brouckereplein 38 ( ). This is the most central UGC in Brussels. Another UGC exists in Ixelles. As far as programming goes it's the usual Hollywood and mainstream European fare you'd expect from any other UGC in Europe. UGC De Brouckère, 38 Place De Brouckère - De Brouckèreplein.
- 2 Offscreen (Cinema RITS), Dansaertstraat 70 ( ). A showcase for unusual, independent and unreleased films, cult classics, extraordinary documentaries and offbeat genres from around the world. Takes place during the month of February and/or March in co-production with Cinema Nova and in collaboration with the Film Museum of the Royal Belgian Film Archive.
- 3 Let Me Out, Vrijheidsplaats 3 ( Madou), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 3 room escape games for players to explore:
Space ship: players find themselves trapped in a space ship with hostile AI, and must work together to gain control of the ship before it self-destructs after 60 minutes.
Alice in Wonderland: players get trapped into Wonderland and meet mysterious fantasy creatures, but with one catch: the only portal to return to the human world disappears in 60 minutes, and must be opened in a race against time.
Prison: a scenario similar to The A-Team: players are locked up in prison for a crime they didn't commit, and must work together to bust themselves out. This scenario is the easiest of the 3.
- 4 Architectural tours, Adolphe Maxlaan 55 ( ), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Saturday mornings Mar-Nov, groups year-round. Atelier de Recherche et d'Action Urbaine, a Francophone Brussels heritage conservation group, runs tours of the city's architectural gems, offering a variety of theme tours to Art Nouveau buildings, Art Deco houses, the EU quarter, the Grand Place area and the Marolles/Marollen. 2-hr walking tours €10; 3-hr bus tours €17 (under 26 years €13).
- 1 Fox Square (Vossenplein) ( ). 6:00-14:00 daily. This historic square is the scene of a daily flea market in the heart of the Marollen quarter, one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city, which until today retains much of its 18th and 19th century atmosphere. Before 1853, a locomotive factory called The Fox Company occupied the area, in the large workshop halls of which famous Brussels painter Antoine Wiertz (see Antoine Wiertz Museum) made many of his large paintings. The closure of The Fox Company gave the city the opportunity to acquire the land, raze the workshops, and transform the area into the square it is today, of which construction completed in 1863. When the inner ring was constructed on the trajectory of the city walls in the first half of the 19th century, the city council deemed the many markets "considerably impairing the appearance of the new boulevards", and sought to relocate them in 1873. Its name, Fox Square is still a reference to The Fox Company, and it is still associated with the daily flea markets held here. Initially it was open to anyone, but nowadays street vendors have to register with the city council to be allowed to set up a stand. In the early 20th century, a 300 m² bomb shelter was dug under the square, but never used. Fans of comic hero Tintin will recognize Fox Square as the flea market where Tintin buys the model of the boat of the Unicorn.
- 2 Marché aux Puces — Vlooienmarkt (Flea Market), Place du Jeu de Balle—Vossenplein. Daily 07:00—14:00. This flea market offers everything from the weird to the wonderful at rock-bottom prices.
- 3 Christmas market, Grand Place—Grote Markt, Boulevard Anspach—Anspachlaan and on Marché aux Poissons—Vissenmarkt. Late Nov-Early Jan. 240 wooden Christmas chalets line the streets looking like gingerbread houses, twinkling with fairy lights and covered with ‘snow-top’ roofs. The chalets sell a variety of Christmas items, decorations, gifts and Christmas season food (including "vin chaud/gluhwein" mulled wine). Activities include a skating rink, a Ferris wheel, and ice dinosaur monster (admission fees). Brass bands, free performances and ice sculptures are also on display.
- 4 Galeria Inno, Rue Neuve—Nieuwstraat 111-123. Department store (fashion, cosmetics, etc.)
- 5 General shopping (along Rue Neuve—Nieuwstraat). With GB supermarket at City 2 accessed from Rue Neuve—Nieuwstraat and Metro Rogier.
- 6 Pele-Mele, Boulevard Maurice Lemonnier—Maurice Lemonnierlaan 55 & 59 (Metro Anneessens). Maze-like second-hand bookshop with huge selection of used books at bargain prices. A bookworm's haven.
- 7 Waterstones, Adolphe Maxlaan 71-75 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 09:00-19:00, Su 10:30-18:00. The largest English language book store in Belgium, with a wide selection of works on almost every subject. They carry books, DVDs, journals, magazines, and almost any other type of literature. Staff is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, and the opening hours are flexible, but pricing is rather steep. It might be advisable, particularly for hardbacks, to survey here and then buy a used copy of the book on Amazon later.
- 8 Innovation (Galeria Inno), Nieuwstraat 111-123 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: Contact.Inno.Bruxelles.Rue-Neuve@inno.be. M-Th 9:30-19:00, F-Sa 9:30-20:00. Department store, renamed Galeria Inno after the fire that destroyed the original store on 22 May 1967. With 325 people killed, 62 injured and the total destruction of the department store, the fire was considered a national tragedy at the time, and remains the most deadly fire in Belgian history. At the time of its construction in 1901, the store was one of the most innovative in Brussels (hence its name), and a design of art nouveau architect Victor Horta. It had 5 floors around a central atrium open to all floors, topped with a skylight to let in natural daylight. When the blaze started around 13:30, around 1000 shoppers were in the store, along with numerous members of staff. Cries of "fire!" caused widespread panic, but due to the wooden floors and walls and the central atrium acting as a chimney, the fire spread extremely rapidly and engulfed the entire building within 10 minutes. There was no sprinkler system installed, and the building filled with a thick black smoke preventing efficient evacuation. People fled to the roof and escaped to adjacent buildings, but many jumped to their deaths before fire engines with ladders arrived. The cause of the fire has been the subject of much debate, and has never been completely cleared up. In the background of the Cold War, the Innovation (selling many American products) was seen by anti-American and Maoist protesters as a symbol of capitalism, and protests in front of the store had been ongoing for weeks leading up to the fire. Eye witnesses claim the fire started in the kitchen, still others claim it started with exploding canisters of butane in the camping department. Many Belgians believe Jews were involved, and the government covered up the true cause of the disaster. On 30 May, the king and queen attended a mass funeral in the Sacret Heart Basilica, and what was left of the Innovation was demolished and rebuilt in the years to follow. In 1968, a memorial monument was erected on the Brussels Cemetery.
- Exki, Place de la Bourse-Beursplein 2. Not especially vegetarian, but vegetarian-friendly. Chain of self-service “bio” restaurants with vegetarian and vegan items labeled. About 20 locations within Brussels. Fairly overpriced.
- 1 Café De Markten, Oude Graanmarkt - Vieux Marché aux Grains 5, ☎ . Tu-Sa 8:00-00:00, Su 10:00-19:00, Mo 15:00-00:00. Reopened in 2018, café De Markten is a popular hangout cafe and restaurant with a large selection of local specialties, in particular vegetarian and/or organic food. Reservation is not usually necessary, but recommended for large groups. Try their home made lemonades: the apple-cinnamon (appel-kaneel) and rhubarb-cranberry (rabarber-cranberry) are particularly tasty! €14-20.
- 2 Moonfood, Rue des Colonies - Koloniënstraat 58, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 12:00-20:09. 100% vegan, organic, and gluten-free restaurant in central Brussels.
- La Friterie de la Place de la Chapelle, Rue Haute-Hoogstraat (near Les Marolles/Marollen). Another personal choice for the best frites in Brussels: the big chunks of potato, fried golden, and served with the usual dazzling array of sauces.
Brussels' tourist restaurant gauntlet can be found in Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat, just to the north of Grand Place. The place has a bad reputation for waiters imposing themselves on passers-by, trying to lure customers into their restaurant. The authorities are aware of this, and are trying to take measures. Some restaurants may also tempt you with cheap prices for the menus, but when seated, the item on the menu happens to be unavailable, and you're forced to accept another, noticeably more expensive dish. Often, the exaggerated price of the wines will also compensate for the attractive menu. Knowing this however, you may be able to negotiate a better deal before entering.
A few restaurants stand out from the crowd though:
- 3 Le Pré Salé, Rue de Flandre-Vlaamsesteenweg 20 (near St Catherine square), ☎ . A former butcher shop, locals flock here for some of the best moules in town, sold by the kilo (figure on €24) and served up in half a dozen ways. Also serves the full range of other Brussels favorites. Mains €16-22.
- Le Beau Soleil, Rue Joseph Lebeaustraat 7 (Sablon area; ). M Tu Th F 09:00-17:00, Sa Su 09:00-18:00. This tiny restaurant (approx. 14 seats) looks like a violin workshop, so you sit next to all the tools and half finished violins. Unlike other Belgian restaurants. The menu is small but really delicious. The atmosphere is informal and friendly.
Close to the Bourse Jules Van Praetstraat (rue Jules Van Praet) is another popular street of Asian cuisine restaurants and bars. Those of note include:
- 4 Lune de Miel, ☎ . Some very tasty Thai and Vietnamese dishes served in a fine decor.
- 5 Thanh-Binh, ☎ . The restaurant is very popular among the Euroworkers and business types common in Brussels and serves good Thai food. It can get crowded and is often noisy but is well worth a try.
Place Saint Catherine-Catherinplaats is also a popular area, and once the fishmongering centre of Brussels. While many of the fish shops have moved elsewhere, it is still home to many good seafood restaurants featuring lobster as a specialty.
- 6 Restaurant Vismet, Place Sainte-Catherinplaats 23, ☎ . A small bistro that really gets busy after 19:00. Very good seafood. The handwritten menu can throw foreigners off, but everything on the menus is top notch. Appetizers: around €15; Main dishes: €18-30.
- 7 Chez Jacques, Quai aux Briques-Baksteenkaai 44, ☎ . An authentic old bistro, with a charming kitsch decor. Very good fish.
- 8 Viva M'Boma, Vlaanderenstraat-Rue de Flandre 17, ☎ . For real Belgian home cooking. Terrace in the summer.
- Brussels Resto, Place Sainte Catherine-Catherinplaats 3, ☎ . Offers quality food, especially its steak at acceptable prices. The menu is in Dutch and French which can cause difficulty in deciphering the specialties.
It is outside the touristic centre that the best deals can be found. Here are a few addresses in the Upper Town and Louise Area:
- 9 Madou's Provence, Rue de la Presse-Drukpersstraat 23, ☎ . Closed Saturday noon and Sundays. Innovative southern French cuisine at affordable prices.
- 10 Amadeo (Amadeus), Sint-Katelijnestraat / Rue Sainte-Catherine 26, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 18:00-23:00. A great place to eat spare ribs in Brussels, themed after a local library. Amadeo tends to be very crowded, and making a reservation well in advance is absolutely necessary. Not suitable for families with kids. All-you-can-eat spare ribs for €17.95.
- 11 Belga Queen, Rue du Fossé aux Loups-Wolvengracht 32. Rue du Fossé aux Loups-Wolvengracht 32. A restaurant within an old, restored bank building. Has an oyster bar, gorgeous bathrooms (with strange stall doors), and a cigar bar housed in the old bank vaults. A good looking younger crowd seem to enjoy this place, and don't miss the offbeat restrooms.
- 12 La Belle Maraîchère, Place Sainte-Catherineplaats 11, ☎ . F-Tu open, We-Th closed. A classic fish restaurant. Very fresh fish and good old traditional cooking.
- 13 Comme Chez Soi, Place Rouppe/Rouppeplaats 23, ☎ . Classic Michelin-starred restaurant.
- 14 Les Larmes du Tigres (Tears of the Tiger), Rue de Wynantsstraat 21 (On the backside of the Palais du Justice / Justitiepaleis), ☎ . Closed on Tuesdays. Upmarket and stylish Thai restaurant found just behind the Palais de Justice and better than most food found in Thailand.
- 1 Recyclart, Kleine Brigittinestraat 1 ( ), ☎ . For electronica, noise-rock, electroclash, minimal techno as well as art exhibitions, social projects and installations.
- 2 La Demence, Blaesstraat 208 ( ), ☎ . One of the largest gay clubs, playing 100% House and Trance music.
- 3 The Fuse, Menslievendheidstraat 3 ( ). Popular gay clubs with a playlist of predominantly house and trance.
- 4 Bier Circus, 57, Rue de l'Enseignement-Onderrichtsstraat, ☎ . Tu-F 12:00-14:30 & 18:00-23:00; Sa 18:00-23:00. Has an impressive selection of beers, including some extremely hard to find beers. Examples of rare beers they have in stock, are Lam Gods (a delicious beer brewed from figs) and the rarest of the Trappist beers, winner of the Beer of the Year 2005, Westvleteren. Also offers meals with beer as an ingredient.
- BXL Cafe/Bar, Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés-Oud Korenhuis 46, ☎ . Su-Th 12:00-00:00,, F Sa 12:00-01:00. A stylish, friendly internet cafe in the center of Brussels. Offering high speed internet access, occasional live music/DJ, latest movies shown on video screens around the bar, regular art exhibitions. Gay friendly space with women's night every Wednesday from 8PM.
- 5 Monk, St Katelijnestraat-Rue St. Catherine 42. A large proper brown bar with walls covered in dark wood and mirrors. Lots of young people from the neighborhood, cool music and a decent Malt whiskey selection.
- 6 Mappa Mundo, Place Saint Géry - Sint Goriksplein 2, ☎ . One of the many trendy bar/cafés on the popular Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein. You are assured good drinking in at least one of these establishments, which are very popular with younger Eurocrats, foreigners and interns, giving them a rather friendly cosmopolitan character.
- 7 Bier Circus, 57, Rue de l'Enseignement-Onderrichtsstraat, ☎ . Tu-F 12:00-14:30 & 18:00-23:00; Sa 18:00-23:00. Has an impressive selection of beers, including some extremely hard to find beers. Examples of rare beers they have in stock, are Lam Gods (a delicious beer brewed from figs) and the rarest of the Trappist beers, winner of the Beer of the Year 2005, Westvleteren. Also offers meals with beer as an ingredient.
- 8 Le Corbeau, Sint-Michielsstraat 18 (North of Debrouckere, near City2 and Inno), ☎ . A bar with a strong selection of beer, Edgar Allen Poe themed, hence the name (The Raven). Known for the clientele who dance on the tables all around the bar. Reasonably priced, well trafficked.
- 9 The Fuse, Rue Blaesstraat 208. A nightclub where it all started and is a Brussels institution. Be sure to check it out. Popular among the young people for its Electronic scene, often having Dubstep and Drum & Bass nights, such as Rockme On Electro, Cartel, F*ckin Beat or other parties. (Watch out for these other parties in nights spread out in other smaller clubs in Brussels).
- 10 Bizon Cafe, Rue Pont de la Carpe-Karperbrugstraat 7. A relaxed blues/rock bar in St Gery/Sint-Goriks area. Excellent place for a beer or five.
- 11 Monk, St Katelijnestraat-Rue St. Catherine 42. A large proper brown bar with walls covered in dark wood and mirrors. Lots of young people from the neighborhood, cool music and a decent Malt whiskey selection.
- 12 Le Greenwich, Rue des Chartreux-Kartuizerstraat 7, ☎ . Another wood-paneled brown cafe where the only sound is the sound of the chess pieces on the chess board. Shh!
- 13 Le Corbeau, Sint-Michielsstraat 18 (North of Debrouckere, near City2 and Inno), ☎ . A bar with a strong selection of beer, Edgar Allen Poe themed, hence the name (The Raven). Known for the clientele who dance on the tables all around the bar. Reasonably priced, well trafficked.
Bars and clubs
- 14 De Walvis, Rue Dansaert 209. One of the very few hip and non-smoking bars in Brussels.
- 15 Mappa Mundo, Place Saint Géry - Sint Goriksplein 2, ☎ . One of the many trendy bar/cafés located on the popular Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein. You are assured good drinking in at least one of these establishments, which are very popular with younger Eurocrats, foreigners and interns, giving them a rather friendly cosmopolitan character.
- Bulex nights. A monthly night out for many locals since more than 10 years, blending all kind of music in unexpected venues. Come as you are.
- 16 The Fuse, Rue Blaesstraat 208. A nightclub where it all started and is a Brussels institution. Be sure to check it out. Popular among the young people for its Electronic scene, often having Dubstep and Drum & Bass nights, such as Rockme On Electro, Cartel, F*ckin Beat or other parties. (Watch out for these other parties in nights spread out in other smaller clubs in Brussels).
- The Botanique's Flemish counterpart, the Ancienne Belgique features the same mix of rock and pop with the occasional excursion into more unchartered, experimental territory.
- Recyclart, Ursulinenstraat 25. For electronica, noise-rock, electroclash, minimal techno as well as art exhibitions, social projects and installations.
- Gays and Lesbians. The two biggest monthly gay clubs remain at La Demence at the Fuse. 100% House & Trance. Don't miss the crowded (but super small) Le Belgica bar, which plays house music. There are quite a lot of gay bars easily recognisable by their flag around the Grand Place area, especially on the street Marché Au Charbon/ Kolenmarkt.
- 1 2Go4 Hostel, Rue Emilie Jacquinstraat 99 (Metro De Brouckere), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Very clean and very modern and chic. Free Wi-Fi (ask at reception for a code). €20+.
- 2 Hostel Jacques Brel, Rue de la Sablonnière-Zavelputstraat 30 (Metro Botanique), ☎ , fax: . Has a reputation for being unclean and chaotic which may not be deserved. Reception closes early and there's a curfew between 1 and 6AM.
- 3 Citadines Sainte-Catherine Brussels, 51, quai au Bois à Brûler, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. The residence is complete with an indoor garden and fountain. All 169 studios and apartments have a bathroom with separate toilet, a fully-equipped kitchen area with stove and Wi-Fi. Five apartments are equipped for people with reduced mobility.
- 4 Hotel Cafe Pacific, Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat 57, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean, small, cozy, romantic, great location. €120+.
- 5 Hotel NH Collection Brussels Centre, 7 Boulevard Adolphe Max, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Four star. Traditional hotel situated next to Place de Brouckereplaats. from €99.
- 6 Sweet Brussels, 78, Avenue de Stalingradlaan, ☎ . Boxspring bed and breakfast. €85+.
- 7 Hotel Metropole Brussels. As the city's only 19th-century hotel still in operation, this 5-star landmark is in the historic centre. 313 rooms and suites, fitness center, 12 meeting rooms, award-winning gourmet restaurant l'Alban Chambon.