The Belgian capital offers endless experiences. In the heart of the city is the Latroupe Grand Place. The best lodging at which to recharge your batteries.
Brussels: the underground capital
The capital of Europe is a small city with lots of character. Brussels may be the epicentre of political power on the continent, but if you get under the surface you’ll also find a vibrant city.
The Belgians are very friendly and it’s probable that someone might invite you to have a beer in a bac à schnick, one of the city’s taverns. Be careful not to end up drunk, because Belgian beer, besides being delicious, is very strong, and the next day you must be in top form to visit the city’s numerous museums. They range from the classic and essential Bozar to the ultramodern MIMA. Concerts, street markets and majestic plazas round out the cultural offering of a city that has rebuilt and reinvented itself thousands of times. And the best way to be informed about what’s happening in the city is to know someone there –or to stay at Latroupe.
A tour of contemporary art galleries in the Chatelain area
Brussels has become the new Berlin of contemporary art. A museum serves to know the artistic past of a city, but it is in the galleries where we can take the pulse of the present cultural scene. We’ve created an itinerary of downtown Brussels, showing the best contemporary art galleries, so that you won’t suffer from the Stendhal syndrome. It’s a pleasant and amusing way of getting to know one of the most special neighbourhoods in the city. Between Chatelain and l’Abbaye de la Cambre, enter these galleries and antique shops, some of them well known and others a surprise, and enjoy a journey outside the big museums.
It’s called the Grand Place in French and the Grote Markt in Flemish. Call it what you like, but don’t fail to visit it. We’re talking about the geographic, historic and commercial centre of Brussels. This lively cobblestoned plaza is part of the most beautiful 17-century architectural zone in all of Belgium. And one of the prettiest in the world. We’re not the only ones saying that: in 1998 the square joined the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites. Writer Victor Hugo was another of its notable admirers. World renowned for its ornamental richness, it includes the guildhalls, the Town Hall and the King’s House .
The Atomium is to Brussels what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. They are monuments created as part of a world’s fair. In the beginning they were both criticised, even hated, by much of the public, but today they are now icons. The Atomium was designed in 1958 by André Waterkeyn and depicts an iron crystal amplified 165 billion times. The structure is 102 metres high and is formed by nine spheres of 18 metres in diameter that are linked by tubes with mechanical staircases. Some advice: avoid the long lines of people waiting to get inside, because the Atomium is much more impressive from the outside than from within.
Patrimony and Nature: when the trip is the destination
We usually catch the train to go somewhere, but sometimes it’s better to simply to see how a city moves before our very eyes. That’s what we propose here. In the centre of Brussels, near the Cinquantenaire Park, is the Montgomery station, the start of line 44. This picturesque tram, whose destination is Tervuren, goes through the most impressive landscape (both urban and forest) in the city. The trip begins even before catching the tram, while admiring the home of Baron Coppens. This bourgeoise building from 1907, in the neoclassical style, contains elements of the Art Nouveau that was then beginning to flower in Brussels. All aboard! As soon as you depart, you’ll be turning your head from right to left so much that you’ll suffer a stiff neck. Along with the bourgeois mansions called “Maisons et Hôtels de maître”, there is a multitude of embassies on Avenue de Tervuren: the one for Azerbaïdjan looks like a strange planet; that of Nigeria is a small French architectural jewel with its mini Jardin des Tuileries. After the architectural interlude enter one of the prettiest forests in the city, the Forêt de Soignes, from which you’ll arrive directly at the Africa Museum, where you can learn all Belgium’s colonial period in central Africa and the Congo. Across from the museum is the lovely Tervuren Park with some gardens à la francaise and others “ever so British!” Pools, fields and trees that are always pleasant but that in autumn create an especially impressive sight.
Urban Wanderlust is our blog: visit it so you won’t miss anything.
A pagoda among the cathedrals
To appreciate Brussels you have to look heavenwards. The skyline of the Belgian capital is dotted with pinnacles.
History of a wave
The town of Mundaka has the best left-breaking wave in Europe, and one of the ten best in the world.
When in Rome: history of the marianito
There is a ritual that is repeated on Sundays at an imprecise hour between noon and lunch.