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Best attractions to visit in Brussels

1. Atomium - Brussels

Atomium

Brussels has many fantastic sights for tourists and Atomium is one which manages to capture the eye of most tourists. Just getting a picture outside of this sculpture makes for a great photo, and anyone who sees the photo will end up asking about it. The best part of visiting this place is that it isn’t just a monument. If you discover this place on your own, you are in for a very nice surprise. Driving towards it, you will feel like it is a sculpture or monument to science, which would only be half correct. It was erected in 1958 for the World Fair hosted by Belgium. As you get closer to it, you will realize it is too big to be just a monument, and something else must be going on. Then you see the cars parked below Atomium and it becomes clear; this isn’t just a monument – it is a building as well and you can go inside it. The tunnels that go from sphere to sphere are a great experience, and we wouldn’t recommend any tourists to keep this place off their things to do list. It also hosts some temporary exhibitions; be sure to check the program when visiting.

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2. Autoworld - Brussels

Autoworld

We may be a bit biased because we love cars, but we truly believe that secretly, everyone absolutely loves vintage cars. Looking at rare cars is a pleasure, because you get to see the best in engineering and marvel at the performance. Looking at vintage beauties is even better because you know they represented the best in style and technology of their time, and the different design trends look even more exotic now. We weren’t really expecting much from AutoWorld in Brussels, but being car fans, we decided it was at least worth a look. We are very pleased we bothered to do so, as the collection here proved to be absolutely stunning. Before we talk about the collection, we must say that the building of Autoworld vintage car museum is great as well. We loved the curves all around the building and the clean aesthetics. There are more than 350 vintage cars in the collection from all over the world. You get to look at the vehicles closely, and you get ample time to take in their beauty. There are cars here from the 1920s and 1930s, and it’s great to see the cars you’ve only seen in movies in real life.

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3. Bois de la Cambre - Brussels

Bois de la Cambre

We think you can tell a lot about a city by looking at its parks. Parks aren’t economically efficient; they are only focused on by administrations that care a good deal about the quality of life in their city. We think Bois de la Cambre does a great job of showing how committed Brussels is to ensure that people have a good time in the city. The park lies in the southern region and covers an area of 1.23 kilometers. The park, like all good parks, provides a beautifully peaceful area, which is the perfect place to go to when you are tired of the city. There is nothing more refreshing than just spending a day in the park after you have been busy for a few days. There are many features in the park which tourists love. The sculptor of horsemen at the entrance is very welcoming, made by the great sculptor Jacques de Lalaing. There is also an interesting bit of history in this park; during the battle of Waterloo, the English soldiers chose this place to play cricket. It is known by some locals as the Englishman’s ground because of this, and there is even an official plaque commemorating the cricket match that was played.

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4. Botanical Garden of Brussels - Brussels

Botanical Garden of Brussels

The Botanical Garden of Brussels may have the word botany in its name but the best part about the garden is the sculpture collection. The beautiful building was made in 1826, though it doesn’t look like it. The extensive use of glass gives it a very future-retro vibe. We love places like this in Brussels, places that look a bit out of time. The botanical garden actually had most of its collection moved to the National Botanic Garden of Belgium in the 1930s, but visiting this place is still one of our favorite things to do in Brussels. Botanical Garden of Brussels is now known as La Botanique, and it stands as a cultural center. While the collection was sent over to the new Garden, the 43 beautiful sculptures which were made for this place are still here, and they are a sight to behold. The collection of large trees was also deemed too difficult to move and still stand here in their original place. There are many interesting events which happen in this place, we would recommend checking the program before going. There is bound to be something interesting happening during the time that you are in Brussels.

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5. Musical Instruments Museum - Brussels

Musical Instruments Museum

The Musical Instruments Museum is in the beautiful new-classical building close to Place Royale/Koningsplein. If you are a fan of music this is something which needs to be on your things to do list. Even if you are not too big of a music fan you will find the collection here to be beautiful. It was established in 1877; however it was moved to its current location in 2000. The museum has some truly unique things on display, and you will be amazed at the different devices which were made by artists just to be able to produce the sound they wanted in their songs. One thing you should keep in mind is that most of the information inside the Musical Instruments Museum is in French and Dutch, and not in English. Regardless, the items on display are very much worth seeing. You will see antique recording equipment, organs, and much more. One of the most interesting pieces, in our opinion, was the serpents. It is a wind bass instrument, named the serpent because it looks like a snake due to the many bends in its body. You also get infrared headphones, on which you can listen to the sounds made by the instruments on display.

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6. Brussels Town Hall - Brussels

Brussels Town Hall

It is very hard to miss the Brussels Town Hall when you are in Brussels. Even if you don’t know about it, you will see an amazing imposing building in all its Gothic beauty, and you will be forced to stand and stare at it. This looks like something straight out of a fantasy novel. It was constructed in 1420 and has been an important building ever since then. It is also a popular tourist attraction, and is located within the Grand Place. Once you step closer you will also see many beautiful statues of saints and figures from mythologies. The tower of this building is also a sight to behold. It stands more than 300 feet tall, and is visible from far away. The building may look a bit evil to people, but that is just because we have associated this style of architecture with some bad forces since they occupied such buildings during the World Wars. The Brussels Town Hall is best explored with a guide and there are many different guided tours available. Having a guide will allow you to explore the building fully and learn a lot about its history. They are available in Dutch and in English.

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7. Coudenberg - Brussels

Coudenberg

The ruins of Coudenberg are a fantastic site to see. There was a beautiful palace on this spot, and it was the seat of the government for more than 700 years. The castle was built in the 11th century and was occupied by many different leaders. The images and paintings we have of the castle show that it was a beautiful and majestic building. The building wasn’t destroyed by invaders like most castles have been destroyed; the castle was burnt due to a fire. In 1731 a fire started in the castle and spread out until it engulfed the whole castle. Since the temperatures were freezing it was almost impossible to transport water to fight the fire. Coudenberg is still an important thing to do for people who are interested in history and excavated ruins. We would recommend coming here and looking at the structures that have survived, as they still give a good idea of how grand the palace was when it was still standing. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 9:30 am to 5pm, and offers many guided tours which will illuminate your tour further. There are also some fun things to do here for kids, such as treasure hunts.

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8. Halle Gate - Brussels

Halle Gate

Halle Gate is a city gate for Brussels which was constructed in 1381. We always find city gates to be interesting; they are from a time when it was possible to enclose a whole city within walls. Not only was it possible, it was necessary as well due to the frequent attacks by other armies. We think we have border control issues right now, but back then things were truly bad. It helps that Halle Gate is beautiful and has a museum inside it as well, which makes it a necessary site in our things to do list. Halle Gate was actually in the second defensive wall line of Brussels (Yes, there were actually two walls enclosing the city!) and it also had a moat, though that no longer exists. The museum is very interesting as well, and has a lot of information about how things were run when the city gate was actually in use. The design of the gate was changed a bit when it was renovated in the 1880s, though the basic structure is the same. City gates were usually grand as well as being secure, because it was considered a show of strength and culture to have a beautiful gate.

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9. Ixelles Cemetery - Brussels

Ixelles Cemetery

The Ixelles Cemetery should be on your things to do list if you are up for a beautiful yet somber experience. Cemeteries aren’t a tourist attraction but the beauty of the cemetery here and the famous people who have been buried here make it a place worth visiting. The cemetery is also one of the oldest surviving cemeteries of Brussels. You will find the tombs of Nobel Prize winners and nobility here. Some of the tombs are exquisite, with intricate designs and grand statues. Georges Boulanger, who was the French Minister of War, committed suicide in this cemetery, distraught over the death of his lover. We would like to remind you to be respectful, as we saw some tourists frolicking around the cemetery and taking pictures. It may be a sight worth seeing, but it should still be respected as a cemetery. Another interesting thing is that the Ixelles Cemetery is surrounded by trendy bars and restaurants. Due to its proximity to two universities the neighborhood is geared towards young people. You will find excellent food in local restaurants and fun environments in bars as well. It is also easy to reach the cemetery, as most bus lines which go through the area have a stop right in front of the cemetery.

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10. Manneken Pis - Brussels

Manneken Pis

If someone told you about Manneken Pis you would probably think they were messing with you. It is a statue of a small boy urinating which was made in 1619. The notable thing about the statue is that it keeps changing costumes and has many legends attached to it. The statue isn’t of much artistic value but is of immense cultural value. It represents the fun side of Belgium. The name Manneken Pis means “Little man pee”. There are many legends attached to the statue. Some say it was built to honor a child who urinated on a fuse of the bomb of an army attacking Brussels. Some say a rich aristocrat lost his child, who was found by the authorities urinating in a garden, and the aristocrat gifted this statue to the city. There are over 900 costumes for the statue, and there is a proper ceremony whenever it is changed, complete with a brass band playing live music. You can also view the numerous costumes on display, and schedules are posted around the statue announcing when the next costume will be changed. We would highly recommend watching the ceremony as it is very fun and completely unique.

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