Brussels printable map of top tourist attractions & city travel guide
Map of top 10 attractions in Brussels
The typical top ten attractions are listed below. You can find the detailed locations of these places on the maps above.
- Grand Place (Grote Markt) - Quite simply the most theatrical medieval square in Europe, with a magnificent array of gabled guild houses and a spectacular town hall. The geographical, historical & commercial heart of the city, the Grand Place is the first port of call for most visitors to Brussels. It is quite simply one of the most uniformly beautiful enclosed city squares in the world. This bustling cobblestone square remains the civic centre, centuries after its creation, and offers the finest surviving example in one area of Belgium's ornate 17th-century architecture. Open-air markets took place on or near this site as early as the 11th century, but by the end of the 14th century Brussels' town hall, the Hotel de Ville, was built, and city traders added individual guildhouses in a medley of styles.
- Hotel de Ville - From the south side of the Grand-Place, the newly scrubbed and polished Hotel de Ville, or town hall, dominates proceedings, its 96-metre spire soaring high above two long series of robust windows, whose straight lines are mitigated by fancy tracery, striking gargoyles, solid statuettes and an arcaded gallery.
- St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral - Although more than a little plain to look at, both outside and inside, compared to the generally extravagantly decorated run of Gothic cathedrals, St-Michel's, dedicated to the city's patron St. Michael, and to St. Gudula, has much to commend it.
- Manneken-Pis - The centuries-old fountain- statue of a small boy making water with a 'what-a-clever-boyam- I' look on his face, has become a much-loved symbol of the city.
- Our Lady of the Chapel (Notre-Dame de la Chapelle) - This Romanesque-Gothic church is interesting both historically and architecturally.
- Place Royale - Brussels royal square stands at the meeting point of rue de la Regence and rue Royale, two streets that hold many of the city's premier attractions.
- Royal Palace (Palais Royal) - The King's Palace, today is used for state receptions.
- Belgian Comic Strip Center (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee) - A Victor Horta–designed department store hosts this temple to Belgian and international cartoons. Pride of place goes, naturally, to Herge's beloved Tintin.
- Parc de Bruxelles - Opposite the Palais Royal, the Parc de Bruxelles is the most central of the city's larger parks, along whose tree-shaded footpaths civil servants and office workers stroll at lunchtime, or race to catch the Metro in the evenings.
- Royal Fine Arts Museum (Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts) - Brussels' major gallery covers everything from early Flemish painting to surrealist master Magritte, who has his own dedicated gallery. Don't miss Bruegel's Fall of Icarus. A few metres from place Royale, at the start of rue de la Regence, the Musees Royaux des Beaux Arts comprises two interconnected museums, one displaying modern art from the nineteenth century onwards, the other older works. Brueghel, Rubens, Van Dyke, Magritte – this splendid collection takes the visitor on a tour of some of the greatest names in art.
- Musical Instrument Museum (MIM, Musee des Instruments de Musique) - Newly rehoused in a magnificent Art Nouveau building, the 'MIM' contains thousands of instruments – ancient, modern, ethnic and just plain wacky.
- Horta Museum (Musee Horta) - Victor Horta was the original Art Nouveau architect; his own house was the perfect expression of his art – down to the last doorknob. The building is now preserved as a shrine to Art Nouveau.
- Parc du Cinquantenaire - The EU district boasts the spacious and leafy Parc du Cinquantenaire, ringed by impressive museums including a military museum and one dedicated solely to cars. The Golden Jubilee Park has extensive gardens which at their heart have a triumphal arch topped by a bronze four-horse chariot sculpture, representing Brabant Raising the National Flag.
- Sablon District - The Sablon district anchors the southern end of the Upper Town and in its midst is place du Petit Sablon, a small rectangular area which was laid out as a public garden in 1890 after previous use as a horse market.
- Place du Grand Sablon - The Upper Town's most elegant square, perfect for hanging out on a summer's afternoon.
- Place du Jeu de Balle Page - Not as cheap as it once was, but still what a flea market should be, full of delectable old junk.
- Atomium - Stand Under the Seven Giant Spheres of the Atomium and hope that none of the giant spheres of this colossal representation of an iron atom will fall on your head.
- Other popular attractions worth visiting include: Musee Gueuze, Maison du Roi, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Natural Sciences, Mini Europe, Autoworld, Planète Chocolat (chocolatier factory) tour, Bourse (Stock Exchange).
What are some interesting facts about Brussels?
Tourist information centre - The city tourist office is Brussels International Tourism, at the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall). You can pick up visitor's guides and maps here. This includes a fairly detailed street map of the inner city, with the main tourist attractions marked.
Getting around - Central Brussels is well served by trams which encircle the old town. However, the tiny streets are often pedestrianized, and usually the quickest and most enjoyable means of transport for short distances is on foot. Otherwise metro stations are well placed. Brussels city center is small enough that walking is a viable option, but it's not that small and traffic can be heavy and frantic, adding up to a tiring experience. The best solution if you have several days is to slice your time into segments for walking tours. Otherwise, a combination of walking and using the excellent public transportation is best. Beyond the center, public transportation is a virtual necessity.
Public transport - Detailed maps of the integrated transit network - Metro (subway ), tram (streetcar), and bus - are available free from the tourist information office.
Orientation - The centre of Brussels is contained within a clearly defined shape called the Pentagon. Nowadays this outline is formed by a busy ring road called the Petite Ceinture. The road follows the path of the old city walls, a huge 14th-century construction 9 km (6 miles) long. Few traces of the walls have survived, but one old city gate, the Porte de Hal, still stands, and gives a fair indication of just how massive the fortifications must have been. Most of historic Brussels is contained within these bounds, including both the commercial and popular districts of the Lower Town, and the aristocratic quarter of the Upper Town, which includes the Royal Palace. The result is that Brussels is still a very compact city. You can walk right across the Pentagon in about half an hour. As well as monuments and cultural gems, you will find a concentration of excellent places to stay and eat, good shops, and vibrant cafes and bars.
City layout - Brussels is flat in its center and western reaches, where the now-vanished River Senne once flowed. To the east a range of low hills rises to the upper city, which is crowned by the Royal Palace and has some of the city's most affluent residential and prestigious business and shopping districts. The Grand-Place (Grote Markt in Dutch) stands at the very heart of Brussels, and is both a starting point and reference point for most visitors. An excellent railway network runs almost directly through the middle of the city, with Gare du Nord (Noord Station) just across the northern rim of the Petite Ceinture, Gare Centrale (Centraal Station) in the city center not far from the Grand-Place, and Gare du Midi (Zuidstation) near the southern rim.
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