Why It’s Best to Be in Brussels

BrusselsBrussels is home to the headquarters of the EU and is a major center for international relations, industry, and trade. It also boasts some fabulous historical sites, grand buildings and, of course, plenty of famous Belgium beer.

Brussels is divided into two areas known as the Lower and Upper Towns. The Lower Town is home to the medieval town center, built around the Grand Palace. This magnificent structure has an elaborate 100-meter high tower which is topped by a gilded statue of St Michel. After taking the tour, spend some time in the square outside, which is dotted with quaint sidewalk cafes and cellar restaurants.

The Upper Town, with its wide boulevards, large museums and upmarket shopping areas (especially in Sablon and Ave Louise), is a stark contrast to the Low Town. Also worth a quick visit here is the Belgian parliament building. Located on the outskirts of the city, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts houses the country’s premier collection of fine art, exhibiting works by Pieter Breugel the Elder, Rubens and the Belgian surrealists.

The countryside around Brussels offers scenic beauty, as well as several sightseeing attractions. The Ardennes in south-eastern Belgium is the nearest ski resort. Alternatively, nine kilometers southwest of Brussels is Beersel, home to the only local intact fortified medieval castle (dating from the 13th century).

Thirteen kilometers from Brussels is Gaasbeek, most famous for the ancestral château of the Counts of Egmont. Nearby is the village of Vlezenbeek. Also of interest is Mechelen, located 16 kilometers north of Brussels, and which lies midway between Brussels and Antwerp. It has a scenic position on the Dijle River and the Leuven Canal, and the medieval town square here is a history lesson in how cities in Belgium looked in the 1400s and 1500s. Additionally, Waterloo’s battlefield remains much as it was in 1815 and it is just 10 kilometers to the south of Brussels.