A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.Lao Tzu
We made our way from Paris by train (more info) and reached Brussels in the night. It was the night of Christmas – so everything was bright and lit up in Brussels.
We took the Metro (Click here) and reached our hotel. Now we had very limited time while in Brussels – A day. The first thing we did was visit the Grand Place which was very next to the hotel to see the Christmas lights and décor. It was crowded but the music and décor made it well worth it.
After seeing the beautiful Grand Place, we headed to the hotel hoping to catch some good sleep as we had a busy day ahead. However, that wasn’t to happen as we had real bad neighbors and a whole episode of getting the police involved! Not dwelling into details here! However, the next morning we were up and running – Brussels calling.
We first made our way on foot to the St Michael and St Gadula Cathedral which was just a 5 mins walk from the Grand Place. This is a Roman Catholic church and due to its importance and its location in the national capital, it is often used for Catholic ceremonies of national interest, such as royal marriages and state funerals.
- Opening Times: 7:30-18:00 (Mon-Fri); 7:30-15:30 (Sat); 14:00-18:00 (Sun)
- Free Entry
Next we head towards Place Royale (Koningsplein) which is just a 10 mins walk from the cathedral. This is a historic square near the centre of Brussels.
We further walked down to reach the Grand Place again – this time it was quieter than the night before, with people just getting on with their routine life. All over the world it is known for its decorative and aesthetic wealth. The Grand Place is surrounded by the guild houses, the City Hall and the Maison du Roi.
We then walked to the very famous pissing boy – Manneken Pis, a famous Brussels landmark. It is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain’s basin. The statue is dressed in costume several times each week, according to a published schedule which is posted on the railings around the fountain.
Few pictures and then we were on way to the current most famous landmark of Brussels – The Atomium. We took a Metro (Click here for more info on the Brussels Metro) to navigate our way from central Brussels to Heysel Park. The park also has Mini-Europe – all mini structures of all the famous landmarks in Europe. We didn’t visit this as we had made up our mind on visiting the real full sized ones!
Designed by the engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak, it stands 102 m (335 ft) tall. Its nine 18 m (60 ft) diameter, stainless steel clad spheres are connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It is now a museum and it was named as Europe’s most bizarre building by CNN.
- Opening Times: 10Am – 6PM
- Price: 10Euros
We were again on our way via the reliable Brussels Metro on way to seeing the Japanese Tower and Chinese Pavilion. The Japanese Tower is a surprising sight in the Brussels landscape. Like the nearby Chinese Pavilion, it was built at the beginning of the 20th century, supervised by King Léopold II.
Just down the road is the Royal Residence of Laken. It is the official residence of the King of the Belgians and the royal family. For obvious reasons the entry was restricted!
We then made our way using the very reliable metro to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Koekelberg Basilica). The Koekelberg Basilica ranks fifth among the world’s largest churches, after the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Paix in Yamoussokro on the Ivory Coast, St Peter’s in Rome, St Paul’s in London, and Santa Maria Dei Fiori in Florence.
Next, we were on our way on the Metro to – Parc du Cinquantenaire – a huge park which contains Military Museum, Art & History Museum and also the Autoworld. We were nearly worn out by this time and didn’t intent to visit any museums. It was evening and the park was buzzing with people – so we just sat down and enjoyed the viewed of the evening sun set over the horizon.
Map of our Brussels exploration
It was dark and end of our day at Brussels. So we headed back to the Brussels city centre – tired and worn out. But something more was in store for us – the Brussels Christmas Markets. It is a must see if you are in Brussels around Christmas. Amazing food, amazing ambiance – the place simply rocks.
We made our way to Gare du midi to take the night train. (Click here for more info)
Finally it was time to bid Adieu and head to our next destination – Amsterdam (Eyes Popping)
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