Skyscraper City Forum banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

6,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Brussels is the capital and largest city of Belgium, situated almost in the middle of Belgium. Brussels is also considered the inofficial capital of the EU, since it hosts many of its major political institutions.
The central city is divided in two parts: the Upper town and the Lower town. The landscape is both flat and hilly and forests surround the city. Brussels has several large parks, some in the city center. Brussels has a mixed character with both small historic quarters in the old town, and huge modern office buildings, many of them belonging to the EU, and skyscrapers. One of Europe's most beautiful squares, Grand Place, is situated in the heart of Brussels. It is famous for its diverse style of architecture with beautiful decorations, dominated by the old Town Hall. Less impressive, but still the most famous symbol of Brussels, is Manneken Piss, a very small fountain sculpture of a pissing boy that stands just a few blocks away from Grand Place.
All streets and square names in Brussels are written in two languages; French and Flemish. But the main language of Brussels is French, even if it is totally surrounded by Flemish regions. The city is called Bruxelles in French and Brussel in Flemish. And most people also speak English, so that would be no problem. Even if the city has over 1.1 million inhabitants, the municipality called City of Brussels (Bruxelles-Ville), that is situated in central Brussels and parts of the outskirts, only has about 166*000 inhabitants. That is because the city consists of several municipalities. It is juridically only City of Brussels that is the capital, but in reality, the authority buildings and embassies are de facto spread out all over the city.
The Old Town , situated around Grand Place in Lower Town, is very beautiful with its beautiful squares and narrow lanes, as well as some wider roads that remind of Paris. The majority of old buildings are built in either French style or Flemish renaissance. Besides the already mentioned Grand Place, here you can find Galeires St-Hubert, a historic shopping galleria, comic museums, an instrument museum and just to the North Place Ste-Catherine with its cathedral. There are many large churches in Brussels, the majority in Gothic style.
Outside the old town you will find the European Quarter, where our hotel was. Here you can find the more impersonal large scale buildings in glass and steel that host political institutions of the European Union, as well as more beautiful old buildings, and Jubelpark were you find the Arch of Triumph and many museums, such as a large car museum, a military museum and a large art museum . In my opinion, these quarters remind of the modern parts of Berlin, and some part of Paris.
Between the European Quarter and the Old Town, you can find the Royal Palace and Parc de Bruxelles. We visited the Coudenberg, an ancient basement beneath the palace. To the North of Parc de Bruxelles, a small park that is good for relaxing, you can find the Belgian Parliament.
To the southwest of the city center, in Upper Town, you can find the Marolles quarters with the huge, impressive but decadent Palace of Justice (under renovation) at Place Polaert where you have amazing views of the Lower Town. The square is also the beginning of the exclusive shopping road Avenue de Louise, and Place Louise. Along the road Rue de Régence you can find the small but beautiful park and square Petit-Sablon, as well as the gothic church with the same name.
To the North you can find the financial district with the majority of Brussels skyscrapers. In the Northern outskirts, you can find the impressive landmark Atomium with its futuristic architecture from the 1958 world exhibition, that we also visited inside. Next to Atomium is Mini-Europe, a theme park with miniatures of buildings in EU countries.


We visited Brussels for 3 days as a part of a 5 day tour to Belgium and a one day visit to the Graspop rock festival. We arrived at the large Brussels Airport.
Despite the lack of water and a lot of grey EU buildings, I liked Brussels a lot as a tourist attraction; the mix of old buildings and futuristic buildings, the beautiful squares, parks, the magnificent food and drinks and the large number of rare museums make this city unique!
The weather was mixed -grey and sunny, and some heavy showers also occured. Grey weather is very common in Belgium, even summertime.
During our visit in June 2014, World Football Championship was going on, so the streets and pubs were really lively. As a contrast to that, the streets were almost empty on Saturday and Sunday during our visit. It was a bit grey and rainy and we were not in the old town these days, but still strange to see so less people outdoors in central Brussels, especially since this is common weather in Belgium.
The infrastructure of Brussels is good. The city has metro, trams and buses. The trams are modern but we didn’t use it since the city center is very pedestrian friendly and we needed the metro to get to the outskirts. The metro system is working good but a bit worn; the underground trains are not very modern and some stations look really bohemic with no escalators. Brussels have several train stations, the central station is not the largest.
Food in Belgium is really good, the meatballs are really tasty for example, and you can find food from Belgian restaurants as well as international kitchen (Italian, Asian, Spanish, French etc). Belgium is also famous for its beer, waffles and chocolate that is in top class, and of course we tried it!
Traffic can be really harsh during rush hours, since there are many cars –Belgium is not by far as bike friendly as the Netherlands- and the streets are really small, so you often see cars stucked in the middle of an intersection. At one occasion, we watched about 10 incident that nearly lead to accidents in just a few minutes! Even if the traffic can be aggressive, motorists generally stop for pedestrians.
It felt pretty safe to walk around in central Brussels, even after dark. The only problems we had were with some Romanian beggars that tried to fool tourists. Don’t let them make you sing anything, it’s just a scam!
We stayed at the 4 star Renaissance Brussels Hotel at the Rue du Parnasse in the European Quarter, right next to the huge EU Parliament. The location is about 15 minutes walk to the Old town, and even closer to the Royal Palace. The hotel is a modern 7-storey building with elegant but a bit impersonal interior. It has 262 rooms and is part of the Marriott/Renaissance chain. The room was really large and nice with a large flatscreen TV, a large king size bed and a long corridor. It was furnished in earth colours and had views over a small street. The staff were very friendly, but the breakfast is really expensive (25 euro and 15 euro with discount) so it is hardly worth the money, and they made a mistake to charge to much, that was corrected later after many e-mails. But for the hotel over all we got really good value for money. The hotel has a bar, a Starbucks, a restaurant, a gym and a pool in the basement.

I also visited Antwerp and the Graspop festival after Brussels.

Click on the link below to read more and watch the pictures:



Hôtel de Ville, Brussels Town Hall.

You can watch more photos and read info about the photos on the link now:

6,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·

6,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
OLD TOWN Part 2:

Manneken Pis



Place Ste-Catherine (St-Katelijneplein in Flemish) is a rectangular square situated just to the Northeast of the Old Town and Grand Place. Since it is not located in the immediate tourist quarters this area is more popular among locals then tourists. Here you find the neglect neo-gothic St Catherine's Church, a pond in the middle, fountains, a high sculpture and a lot of open air pubs and restaurants. Every day there are food or flower markets daytime and at occasions even a ferris wheel there.

St Catherine's Church


Place de Brouckère, a busy square near Pl. Ste-Catherine, that is considered to be the center of Brussels. It could be compared to Piccadilly Circus or Times Square with its busy traffic and advertizement signs. Place de Brouckère was named in honour of Charles de Brouckère.




6,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Atomium is a spectacular and unique structure in the Northern part of Brussels, in the district of Heysel, next to Royal Park of Laeken. Atomium was built for 1958 World Fair, and still looks very futuristic with its shining stainless steel (that replaced the fading aluminium in 2006) facade in a shape that resembles an iron crystal (magnified 165 billion times) with 9 spheres. It is 108m tall and each sphere is 18m in diameter. The structure was designed by engineer André Waterkeyn and the two architects André and Jean Polak. Atomium is one of the most famous symbols of Brussels.

During our visit there was an exhibition inside Atomium with light shows and electronic music that was very cool and was displayed in both the spheres and in the escalators that connect them. We also visited the observation deck separately, located in the top sphere that is reached by an elevator and has panoramic views of Brussels. The waiting line was very long. The miniature theme park Mini-Europe is situated right next to Atomium, we visited these two interesting attractions the same grey but yet joyful day. The entrance fee was pretty expensive and the waiting line was long, but it was definately worth it!


Financial district of Brussels, situated just north of the city center and far south of Atomium. The dominating buildings in the picture are from the left Finance Tower (tallest in Brussels if counting mast), Dexia Tower. In the foreground is World Trade Center and in the far background you can see Tour du Midi, Belgium's tallest skyscraper.




6,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Marolles (Marollen in Flemish) is an old district situated in the South part of the city center. Here you find the impressive Palace of Justice at Poelaert, Avenue Louise that is famous for its upscale stores and in the nearby Sablon district, Place Petit Sablon with its small park and sculptures, right opposite the gothic church of Petit Sablon. Gare du Midi (Southern Station) and Tour du Midi, Brussels tallest building, are also situated in the vicinity.


Palace of Justice (Palais de Justice/Justitiepaleis) is the most important court building in Brussels and the largest building constructed in the 19th century. It is situated at Place Poelaert in the Marolles district, just south of the city center. It was built 1866-83 and was designed by the architect Joseph Poelaert in ecletical style, featuring neoclassicism elements, from an initiative by King Leopold I. The top of the dome has a height of 104m. In the end of WWII the golden dome collapsed and the building was badly damaged, and the latter years the building has fallen into disrepair for several years and is currently (2014) under renovation.


Tour du Midi (Zuidertoren), Belgium's tallest building to the roof height (here seen from Place Poelaert). It was built 1962-67, has 38 floors and is 150m tall to the roof. Until 1972 it was also the tallest building in the EU (before it was surpassed by Tour Montparnasse in Paris). It was drawn by Michael Jaspers & Partners and is situated right next to Gare du Midi, the large railway station southwest of the city center. It was built for the national pensions services. In 1996 the exterior was modernised, and recladded with glass.

The National Basilica of Sacred Heart (Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Coeur) is a roman catholic art deco church on Koekelberg hill in the West outskirts of Brussels. It is one of the largest churches in the world. Unfortunately we had no opportunity to visit it. The coppar roof is 80m high. Work begun in 1905, but the church wasn't completed until 1970.

SABLON DISTRICT - Rue de la Régence and Place du Petit Sablon:

Place du Petit Sablon is a small square park in the middle of the Sablon neighbourhood, famous for its statues of 48 historical persons standing on pillars. It was inaugurated in 1890 and designed by Henri Beyaert.



6,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·

The Royal Palace (Palais Royal de Bruxelles or Koninklijk Paleis de Brussel) is situated in the upper part of the city center, above the old town. Opposite the palace the small but popular Brussels Park (Parc de Bruxelles) is situated (that is bordering the Belgian parliament on the North side and some embassies to the East), and on the other side is the square Parc Royal (Konigsplein). Place de l'Albertine is right next to it. Rue de Regence also starts here, that leads to Palace of Justice. The Royal Palace is a large neoclassical building, the current version from 1934, and is the official palace of the queens and kings of Belgium. Underneath it, you can visit the Coudenberg museum, interesting historic basement vaults that are not crowded with tourists. They are remnants from the Coudenberg Palace, a mediecal palace that once stood on this site. The Bellevue art museum is also situated in the palace complex. The quarters around the palace are called the Royal Quarters and several large art museums can be found here.




The embassy row on Rue Ducale



Place Royale/Konigsplein. Place Royal is situated right above the medieval ruins of Coudenberg Palace that is open for public. The former square on the site was called Baliënplein. For several years there was an open hole in Place Royale during archeological excavations of Coudenberg, just in front of the church.

Church of Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg (St-Jacob-on-the-Coudenberg) is the most prominent building at Place Royal. Here you also find the tourist office, and modern trams drive to Place Poalert from here, along Rue de la Régence.

The equestrian statue of Godfrey of Bouillon, leader of the first crusade in 1096.


Coudenberg (Koudenberg in Dutch means "cold hill") is a small hill right next to the Royal Palace. The Palace of Coudenberg was the seat of government and royalties for 700 years. In 1731 the palace was destroyed by a fire. The base of the palace has for long been hidden behind the Royal Palace, but just recently excavations have opened it for public, just underneath the current Place Royal. The entrance is situated in a small building right next to the Royal Palace, where you get a code in the reception of the Bellevue Museum. The code is used to open a massive door that leads down to the vaults of the former Coudenberg Palace! It was a bit exciting when the door opened automatically to this underground world of vaults, archeological foundings, sculptures, art and mysterious passages.

Entering the vaults of Coudenberg.

The massive door that opens automatically after you enter the code!

A hilly avenue used to be on this site, before the ground was built over!

Coudenberg, cellars under the main building


Mont des Arts (Kunstberg) is a hill right above Brussels Old Town, next to the Royal Palace. Here you find the beautifully landscaped square Place de L'Albertine, as well as the Museum of Music Instruments, Margritte Museum, the Royal Library and the Brussels Meeting Centre. In the 19th century King Leopold II bought the hill to turn it to an art district. Several old buildings were demolished to make way for the project, that stood empty for years because of financial problems. Mont des Arts, that means Hill of Arts, offers some of the best views of Brussels.

The beautiful Old England art nouveau building and Coudenberg St, where the old Coudenberg Palace stood.

The landscaped garden in the hills of Mont des Arts, right above Place de l'Albertine. There was another garden on the same site, built for the Universal Exhibition in 1910. The new one was landscaped by René Péchère. The equestrian statue that can be seen just in front of the Town Hall is King Albert I and is situated at Place de l'Albertine.

Place de l'Albertine (Albertinaplein) is a half circle shaped square right below Mont des arts. It could be said to be the beginning of the Old Town.

The old jugend elevator of Old England Bldg (MIM) is very special; it has open views to the floors and decorated doors, it's a bit shaky, almost a bit scary but fascinating.


Brussels Central Station (Bruxelles Central/Brussel Centraal) is the main railway station of Brussels. It was completed in 1952 and is situated right next to Place de l'Albertine, below Kunstberg. Since all tracks are built underground, you will hardly notice the building is actually a railway station. It actually feels pretty small inside, this is the main hall in marble art deco.



Grasmarkt (Flemish) or Marché aux Herbes (French), Herb Market, is a square between Grand Place and Place de l'Albertine where you find open air restaurants, a market, sculptures, waffel stands and the Moff Comics Museum.


780 Posts
I suppose you didn't find the kind of hidden and not much frequented second entrance to the central railway station? It's pretty cool:

Also, the central station is the most centrally located station, but the south station has a higher number of passengers and also has all high speed trains. I think it has over 20 platforms, whereas Brussels central station only has 6 :).

6,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks joshsam!

I suppose you didn't find the kind of hidden and not much frequented second entrance to the central railway station? It's pretty cool:

Also, the central station is the most centrally located station, but the south station has a higher number of passengers and also has all high speed trains. I think it has over 20 platforms, whereas Brussels central station only has 6 :).

^^Yes, I did, after visiting the Moff museum! But I thought it was part of the Horta shopping galleria and it looked surprisingly empty.
And yes, the central station feels much smaller then some of the other stations!

6,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Place De La Nation, St Michael's Cathedral, Belgian Parliament, Congress Quartiers, Rue Royale

This page is about the Congress Quartiers, the area immediately to the North, Northwest and West of Brussels Park (Parc de Bruxelles) in the city center. Here you find the palace of the Belgian Parliament, the gothic Cathedral of St-Michel, the imposing Congress Column with the tomb of the unknown soldier at Place Congress, the statue of Baron Horta and several interesting buildings, restaurants, pubs and monuments. To the west goes Rue Royale.

Cathédrale St-Michel-et-Gudule - Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula was built between 1226 and 1519. The most prominent gothic church of Brussels is standing on Tuerenberg Hill, between the Congress Center and the Old Town, with the front at Place Ste-Gudule close to the Central Station, and is surrounded by modern buildings.

The Palace of the Nation (Palais de la Nation), the Belgian Parliament is situated at Place de la Nation, on Rue de la Loi (Wetstraat) just to the North of Parc de Bruxelles. This neo-classic edifice was completed in 1783 to host the Sovereign Concil of Brabant.


The Congress Column (Colonne du Congrès) is a 47m high corinthian column that commemorates the creation of the Belgian state by the National Congress in 1830-31. It stands at Place du Congres (Congresplaats) at the intersection Rue Royale/Rue de Congresse with a statue of King Leopold I on top. It was inaugurated in 1859.


Eglise Royale Sainte-Marie (St Mary´s Royal Church), a roman catholic parish church in the Northern end of Rue Royale. It was built 1845-85 in an eclectic style, combining roman and byzantine architecture.

6,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·

This small building in classic style at Place du Luxembourg is situated in the center of the Espace Léopold complex and houses the information center. It is the only bulding in older style.

The statue of John Cockerill stands in the middle of Place du Luxembourg, right in front of the EU information center and the parliament, and is a connection point for people. During our stay we saw demonstration and football championship events.

Espace Léopold (Leopoldruimte in Flemish) is the name of the huge complex of postmodern buildings that houses the European Parliament, a legislative chamber of the EU. Paul-Henri Spaak Building (picture above) is the oldest and Altiero Spinello is the largest. The complex started constructed in 1989 and has been extended several times since. The whole complex is enormous, about 400m wide and has 17 floors!

The Henri-Spaak Building, the oldest building in the parliament. The official seat of the European Parliament is in Strasbourg, but this complex was built to be closer to the other EU institutions, that are located in Brussels, and the one in Brussels hosts the majority of these. The leaders cannot manage to agree where to place the parliament!

The Euro statue outside the parliament building, at Rue Wiertz. A symbol of the strenght of the Euro? Ironically, some people see it as the symbol of the European debt that rises...

Espace Léopold and the EU sculpture

Demonstration against homelessness outside the EU parliament

Margot Wallström, A Swedish minister, planted this tree, "European Voice".

Altiero Spinelli, the largest building of the European Parliament was constructed 1991-97. It was named after one of the founders of the EU. Here it is seen from Agora S.Vell, right after Luxembourg Square.

Inside the EU parliement there are long atrium with 7 floors, glass roofs and skybridges that connect the secions.


Rue du Luxembourg (Luxemburgstraat) towards Place du Luxembourg and the EU Parliament

Gare du Luxembourg (Luxembourg train station) is where we arrived with the train from the airport. The station is situated between 2 futuristic EU buildings.

Square de Meeûs is a small square park situated on both sides of Rue de Luxembourg, between Place du TrôneSquare de Meeûs is a small square park situated on both sides of Rue de Luxembourg between Place du Luxembourg and Place du Trône, between the Royal Palace and the EU Parliament. It is a nice park to sit down and relax.

Place du Trône (Troonpleis) with the 25-storey Bastion Tower from 1970


European Parliament at Place du Luxembourg, seen at sunset.

Parlamentarium, European Parliament. A sort of museum about EU for visitors.


We stayed at the 4 star Renaissance Brussels Hotel at the Rue du Parnasse in the European Quarter, right next to the huge EU Parliament. The location is about 15 minutes walk to the Old town, and even closer to the Royal Palace. The hotel is a modern 7-storey building, built in 1995 and renovated in 2010. It has an elegant but a bit impersonal interior. It has 262 rooms and is part of the Marriott/Renaissance chain. The room was really large and nice with a large flatscreen TV, a large king size bed and a long corridor. It was furnished in earth colours and had views over a small street. The staff were very friendly, but the breakfast is really expensive (25 euro and 15 euro with discount) so it is hardly worth the money, and they made a mistake to charge to much, that was corrected later after many e-mails. But for the hotel over all we got really good value for money. The hotel has a bar, a Starbucks, a restaurant, a gym and a pool in the basement.

The super expensive breakfast - 15-25 euro!

6,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
European Quarter, Arch Of Triumph, Schumanplein, Berlaymont

Jubelpark (Flemish) or Parc du Cinquantenaire (French) is a large park (30 hectares) in the East part of central Brussels, part of the European Quarter. It is situated in the City of Brussels municipality but borders Etterbeck municipality to the East. The park was constructed in 1880, for the 50th anniversary of the independence of Belgium. The name means "park for the 50th anniversary". Many structures were constructed to show the richness of Belgium, the most prominent one is the Arch of Triumph, that is built together with the Monument of Cinquanentenaire, where you find a large car museum (Autoworld), a large military museum and a large art museum (Cinquantenaire). You can have a dinner in the sky in front of the arch. There is a also a large mosque in the park, that is Brussels oldest. Military parades, drive in movies and running games are among activities that take place in the park.

There will be a special section about the vintage car museum Autoworld that is situated in the park..

Parc du Cinquantenaire. The Arch of Triumph is situated in the middle of the park, built together with the Royal Military Museum, the Cinquantenaire Art Museum and the AutoWorld car museum.

Avenue John F. Kennedy (Kennedylaan) is a highway that goes right through the park in the Belliard Tunnel, but since it is situated below the ground, you will hardly notice or hear from it. However there are plans to enclose it.

Dinner in the sky is a restaurant were you are lifted into the sky by a high crane while having diner!

Dinner in the sky, here on the ground. The chairs have seatbelts.

Dinner in the sky, entrance. Brussels is not the only city with a branch of this crazy concept.

Square Montgomery in Etterbeck municipality in the East end of Jubelpark


Berlaymont Building is the seat of the European Commission, built in 1969. This huge curved shape buildning was formerly a symbol of the EU in media, before the newer buildings at Place Luxembourg were constructed. From above it has the shape of an asymmetrical cross. It has an area of 240 000m² on 18 floors, 42 escalators and 12 elevators.

Office buildings, many of them EU buildings, at Schumanplein. To the right is the Berlaymont building.

Royal Military School

Small scale buildings near the huge Berlaymont.


Belview, a tall new(2014) resiential skyscraper next to a park. It is 90m and 24 floors tall.

EU:s Assembley Building of Locals and Regionales (Comité des Regions).

Towards the European Parliament, Rue du Remorqueur

Rue Stevin/Stevinstraat near Jubelpark has many picturesque townhouses.

After leaving the park, the streets around Schumanplein were controlled by the police. The police officers prevented people to cross to Schumanplein, forcing people to walk many many blocks around just to cross one street!

Even police helicopters were controlling the area, leaving a scarry feeling of a control state in the future!

It turned out that a caravan of black luxury cars, probably with top politicans, escorted by police vehicles with sirens and blue lights in a fast speed, was the cause of the barriers.
1 - 14 of 14 Posts