Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and brings together the best of the country. Taking influences from the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the North, and French-speaking Wallonia in the South you’ll find many bilinguals in Brussels. As well as combing the languages, Brussels combines the architecture and influences of the other regions, making for a mini break with a lot of varied history.
The most unique thing that Brussels offers for those on city breaks is the opportunity to tour some of the important buildings used in the running the European Union. This is one of the largest governments in the world, second only to the United Nations, which it shares many member states with.
The official EU website offers free tours of European Commission for groups of 15 or more. You will have to be organised though, as the Commission requires 10 weeks notice for the tour as they are arranged on request.
Brussel’s most popular tourist attraction is the Grand Palace. This is the central square of the city and includes a collection of guildhalls, the town hall and the Museum of the City of Brussels, all of which are beautiful examples of architecture and culture.
If you happen to be taking your city break to Brussels in August you will have the chance to see the famous Flower Carpet which is set up in the Grand Palace every year by volunteers. The Flower Carpet is made up of different colours of Begonias and arranged like a tapestry.
Manneken Pis, which is Dutch for Pissing Boy, (or ‘Little Julian’ when there are children around) is a small bronze fountain shaped like a young boy urinating into a fountain basin. The fountain was sculpted by famous Belgian artist Jerome Duquesnoy in 1619. There are many different tales of the statue’s origin, depending on who you ask, seeing which version you are told is some of the appeal of Little Julian.
There is a fun tradition around Manneken Pis of dressing him up in different outfits several times per week. The statue has over 1000 outfits nowadays. There are communities of tourists online now who take pictures of the fountain’s outfits on their city breaks to Brussels and compare with each other.
A lot of famous comic strips have their origins in Belgium, such as The Adventures of Tintin and The Smurfs. In fact, Belgium has more comic strip artists per square kilometre than any other country.
These artists are honoured in the Belgian Comic Strip Centre, a museum of comic strips in Brussels that features over 5000 original sketches from various artists, as well as tutorials on the comic creating process and other resources for budding comic artists. A visit to the museum is recommended for anyone on short breaks to Belgium, even if only to see the amazing Art Nouveau architecture of the building.
Here are some useful facts that may come in handy on short breaks to Brussels:
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And if you’re still in need of some city break inspiration, take a look at our other top city break destinations.