Initially, the appearance of Brussels was formed from the monumental buildings surrounding the King’s House, erected by prosperous merchants and artisans. The European Economic Community (the forerunner of the EU) and NATO, which settled here in 1958 and 1967. accordingly, they provoked a rapid high-rise construction around the city. And formerly a rich merchant town, Brussels has become the administrative capital of Europe.
Today’s tourist feels very comfortable here: English is ubiquitous, full of affordable cafes and chic restaurants, a convenient location allows you to get to Paris in an hour, to Amsterdam and Cologne in two, and in terms of park area per capita, Brussels ranks second in the world (after Washington). And if the famous, you know what the boy doing is disappointing for most tourists, then this cannot be said about other sights of the Belgian capital: the architectural ensemble of the Grand Place, the old narrow streets, chocolate boutiques in the Royal Galleries of St. Hubert. Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau are combined here in an amazing way, reflecting, perhaps, one of the main principles of modern Europe – non-stop progress with careful preservation of historical heritage.
Districts of Brussels
It is worth starting acquaintance with the Belgian capital from the historical center. Previously, this “pentagon” was fenced with a high fortress wall, now only the Halleport gate remains of it. The very heart of the city is the Grand Place. It is surrounded by a magnificent architectural ensemble – the Gothic Town Hall with a high spire, the King’s House, the Painter’s House, the Tailor’s House and other buildings.
Famous among tourists as the “Belly of Brussels”, the Ilo Sacre quarter is located near the Grand Place. It got its name for a huge number of cafes and restaurants of different cuisines of the world.
According to Wholevehicles, the center of Brussels is conditionally divided into Lower and Upper Town. The first is the ancient quarter of Marol, which used to belong to artisans and merchants, as well as the famous symbol of the capital – the Manneken Pis fountain. One of the most architecturally interesting buildings is the Palace of Justice. It is also worth paying attention to the churches of St. Catherine and St. John the Baptist, the medieval Black Tower (a fragment of the fortress wall) and the Exchange building.
The upper city has been known as a district of the aristocracy since ancient times. Here is the main temple of Brussels – Cathedral of St. Archangel Michael and St. Gudula, and to the southeast of it – Royal Palace and Park Ensemble. In addition, there are many museums, and the Mount of Arts offers an excellent view of the Lower City.
Those who come to Brussels for the sake of ancient architecture are unlikely to like the European quarter located to the east of the Grand Place with the modern buildings of the European Commission and the European Parliament.
The Laeken quarter is one of the most interesting areas outside the historic center. There is a large park on the territory of which there are Royal possessions, greenhouses and a palace. To the west of it is the Mini Europe amusement park and the famous Atomium monument.
There are more than 400 accommodation options in the Belgian capital – hotels, apartments, guest houses and hostels. Since many come to Brussels for work, half of the hotels are focused on the business audience – there are all the necessary options for meetings and conferences. Prices are quite high, but on weekends there are usually discounts of up to 50%.
You need to be very careful when choosing your area of residence. There are quarters in the metropolitan area where the cost of a day in a double room is the lowest in the city – from 55 EUR. But living in Schaarbeek, Molenbeek and near railway stations can be unsafe. There are budget options in the center. Room prices here start from 60 EUR, while among hotels up to 60 EUR per night there are many 1-3 * hotels.
The middle class of housing is represented by “threes” and “fours”, prices range from 60 to 150 EUR per night, depending on the location and additional options – transfer, swimming pool, etc. There are quite a few 5 * hotels, among them the network Rocco Forte, Radisson and Sheraton.
Brussels has many shops, shopping galleries and centers, but prices are much higher than in Moscow. Products of Belgian designers are worth looking for on the street. Antoine Dansaert. There are plenty of exclusive things, antiques and souvenirs in the markets, the most popular ones are in the squares of Sablon, Jeu de Bal and Chatelain. Boutiques of world brands are concentrated on the street. Neuve (H&M, Zara and Mango), Waterloo Boulevard and Avenue Louise. The last two are the focus of luxury brands – Valentino, Burberry, Versace and others.
At the Maasmechelen Village outlet, a 1.5-hour drive from Brussels, you can find clothes from Max Marra, Diesel, Hugo Boss and other brands with discounts up to 60%.
The most famous shopping centers in Brussels are City 2 and Basilih Shopping Center. In addition, the city is full of shopping galleries. In the oldest of them, “St Hubert”, prices are high even by Brussels standards. In the “Royal Gallery of St. Hubert”, “Louise” and “Agora” everything is much cheaper.
Winter and summer sales run from January 3rd to 31st and from July 1st to August 1st.
As a gift to friends and family from the Belgian capital, chocolate, beer and lace are most often brought. It is better to buy them in specialized stores and boutiques, which are full throughout the city. All this costs a lot, but the quality is at the level – production technologies are carefully passed down from generation to generation.
Cuisine and restaurants in Brussels
In Brussels, you should definitely visit the establishments of local cuisine. Scallops, shrimp and fish are often found on the menu. Of the side dishes, Brussels sprouts are in great demand among tourists; locals prefer asparagus and parsnips. Pork and beef are served in simpler establishments, in gourmet restaurants you can find lamb, rabbit, poultry and game in sauces and marinades. Be sure to try the Flemish carbonate stewed in dark beer. Do not forget about desserts – Belgian chocolate is famous all over the world. Those with a sweet tooth will also enjoy Brussels waffles with cream and gingerbread cookies.
French fries are on the menu of every cafe, restaurant and street kiosk. The Belgians are sure that this dish was first cooked here.
From alcoholic drinks it is better to give preference to beer. There are several old breweries in the city and its environs, in bars and clubs there is always a large selection – several dozen varieties of foamy drink.
Given the reverent attitude of the Belgians to cooking, you can eat delicious food even in the most budget eatery. For quick and satisfying snacks, street kiosks are suitable. The assortment includes french fries, mussels, waffles and much more. Issue price – on average – 5-9 EUR. Also, budget travelers should pay attention to fast food. You can dine at Maconalds or local fast food establishments for 10-20 EUR. Breakfast for two in a small cafe on the outskirts will cost about the same. Lunch for two people in a middle-class restaurant will cost 50-60 EUR. And the average check for dinner in expensive places varies from 100 to 500 EUR for a dinner with wine.
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