In a city where the main attraction is a peeing statue, you might think that there’s a lack of things to do. However, as well as eating moules frites and drinking local beers, Brussels has plenty to offer the discerning traveller.
When you’re in your hotel, look out the window; there are probably some great buildings just across the street. If there aren't, fear not; our guide to the best architecture in Brussels will help you find your way around the city.
The 13th-15th century gothic style is one that is often found on cathedrals. It’s not surprising that one of Brussels' greatest examples of gothic architecture is the Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudule. Recently restored, the Cathedral has since been used for state funerals and weddings. You can see more gothic architecture in evidence when you visit the Grand Place, as City Hall is a supremely gothic building.
Aside from gothic City Hall, the majority of Grand Place is built in the baroque style of the 17th century. The square was rebuilt in 1965 after a French attack, and the beautiful buildings were restored to their former glory more recently. If you stay in a central hotel such as the Radisson Blu, Grand Place is only a few minutes’ walk away. Try not to be distracted by the decadent chocolate and macaroon shops as you admire the gilded gables of the baroque era.
Art Nouveau Buildings
Art nouveau is quite possibly the style that dominates Brussels architecture. Between 1890 and 1920, local architect Victor Horta was famous across the globe for his modern buildings, which moved away from the trappings of classic design.
Some of Brussels' more famous art nouveau buildings were designed by Horta himself; his Wacquer warehouse is now home to the museum of comic strips and the Horta House is now a museum dedicated to his work. Other buildings in this style are the Old England building and La Metropole. You can see a lot of art nouveau to the West of Avenue Louise, in the business district.
Some of the grandest buildings in Brussels are designed in the Neoclassical style. Head to the Place Royale in front of Brussels Park, where the 18th century Royal Palace sprawls decadently in its grounds. This is a popular stop for tour buses.
The Palace of Justice, Brussels' court of law, is a lovely neoclassical example and is hard to miss from anywhere in the city. Dominating the skyline, it’s a fantastic imitation of Roman and Greek design.
So when you’re walking around the streets of Brussels, wondering what there is to see - just look up. You might discover an architectural gem.