Brussels became the capital of Belgium in 1830 after the
Belgian Revolution. It
is also the headquarters of NATO and the effective capital of the European Union.
The city is the largest in Belgium, with an urban population of more than
a million. The city walls were constructed in the mid 1300s.
Many buildings were destroyed in 1695 when King Louis XIV of France had
forces attack the city. Brussels was part of the Austrian Empire in
the 1700s. Dutch and French are official languages of the city, but
expect to speak French in Brussels. The French name is Bruxelles and
the Dutch name is Brussel.
Brussels is near enough to the English Channel to be
heavily influence by a maritime climate. Expect overcast skies and consistent
levels of rainfall throughout the year. May, early June and early
September provide the
best opportunities for good weather with lower tourist volumes. The
summer months are also excellent times to visit. Expect average
summer highs in July and August of 73 F (23 C) and average lows of 57 F
(14 C). Winter highs from December to February average about 45 F (6
C) while lows linger just above freezing.
Brussels Airport (BRU) is an option but many
tourists arrive by train from other cities. There is frequent rail
service from the airport to the city, which provides a much better option
than cabs or buses. It takes just over a half hour to reach Gare
the central city train station. Most high speed trains arrive at the
Midi-Zuid station, south of town. It provides connections to
Amsterdam and cities in France. The Nord-Noord station, north of
town, provides access to Cologne and Frankfurt. The public transit
is a great option with day passes and multi-trip tickets available.
La Grand Place (Grote Mark) is the central square of Brussels and
its only a short walk from the train station. The Town Hall (Hotel de Ville)
towers over the square and its surrounded with Guild Halls that were
predominate in the late 1600s. The City Museum (Bread House) is
located here too. Each summer the square is transformed back to
the 1500s by the Ommegang Festival
and in mid August the Flower
Carpet covers the square with more than half a million begonias.
Head north from the square to Rue des
Bouchers (Butcher's Street) which is lined with restaurants. Enjoy Belgian waffles and
chocolates at the Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert.
Ascend Mont des Arts for views to the Old Town. It's located
to the east of the square, closer to the train station.
Manneken Pis - a small fountain statue of a boy
urinating. The statue is dressed in an ever changing array of
costumes and is very popular with tourists. It is located two
blocks southwest of the Town Hall
on Rue Charles Buls/Karel Bulsstraat.
the Congress Column commemorating the creation of Belgium.
Parliament - the site is open to visitors via the
Parliamentarium. The European
Commission and the Council of Ministers are also found here in the
- the Triumphal Arch was built in honor of the 50th anniversary
of Belgian independence. The Royal Museum of the Army
and Military History (free), the
AutoWorld Museum and the Great Mosque of Brussels are located here.
Heysel Park and the Atomium,
built in 1958 for Expo58. The Atomium has panoramic views from the
restaurant. Beside Atomium is Bruparck, with Mini-Europe plus a
27 cinema complex (Kinepolis), an Imax, a planetarium and the Oceade water park.
Museums of the Far East (part of the Royal Museums of Art and History)
- In 2015 the exhibits were closed for safety reasons. The Chinese Pavilion
at the Royal Estate at Laeken has a collection of ceramics obtained by
King Leopold II in the early 1900s. The adjacent Japanese Tower
hosts a collection of Japanese art.