Monday, March 5, 2012

Enjoy the Belgian capital of Brussels

We visited Brussels in May 2010 for a short overnight break and stayed at the glamorous art deco Hotel Metropole which is only a 10 minute walk from Grand Place. The hotel itself is spectacular, the lift is a bit rickety and not for the faint hearted.

Inside the Hotel Metropole
As we were again lucky with the weather we spent our time outside rather than visit any of the many museums and galleries that Brussels has to offer. Without doubt my favourite place in Brussels is Grand Place especially on a beautiful sunny day. Grand Place is the city's central square surrounded by Guildhalls, the City Hall and the Bread House. For tourists this is the place that they flock to in their thousands for one simple reason, the buildings by day or by night are beautiful.

Entering Grand Place by Le Roy D'Espagne
There are plenty of places to eat and drink around Grand Place however for to try one of Belgium's many beers check out the Le Roy D'Espagne, built in 1697, was originally the House of the Baker’s guild. The name is due to the bust of Charles II which decorates the façade on the second floor. In 1697 Charles II was the King of Spain and the sovereign of the Southern Netherlands, which included the present day Belgium. On the ground floor, above the entrance, watches Saint-Aubertus, the Patron Saint of the bakers. The house, which suffered much damage during the French Revolution, was renovated to its original state in 1902 under the direction of the Mayor of Brussels, Charles Buls. After having been a café and a hardware store of which the first balcony remains, the house regained its vocation as a café in 1952.

Inside Le Roy D'Espagne

Perhaps the second or some might say the most famous landmark in Brussels is the Manneken PisIt is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain's basin. He has his own wardrobe of clothing and depending on the event in question the City of Brussels clothes him accordingly. The famous statue is located at the junction of Rue de l'Étuve/Stoofstraat and Rue du Chêne/Eikstraat. To find it, take the left lane next to the Brussels Townhall from the famous Grand Place and walk a few hundred metres to arrive at the spot. The statue will be on the left corner. The figure has been repeatedly stolen; the current statue is a copy from 1965. The original is kept at the Maison du Roi/Broodhuis on the Grand Place.
Galerie de la Reina

Manneken Pis

That's about it from Brussels, next stop Ireland....