Belgium is a country where history intertwines with modernity. Architectural monuments, ancient buildings, castles and cathedrals - traveling in Belgium you can get the impression of moving back in time several centuries ago. The cultural heritage of the country was also appreciated in the world organization UNESCO. Many tourist sites are included in the World Heritage List and are under special protection.
Cities in Belgium are small, if you wish, you can get around them in a day. Of course, most travelers recommend starting in Brussels. The famous Manneken Pis is located here, the Royal Museum and the Royal Galleries are located here. Bruges and Antwerp are considered authentic and cozy cities. The small towns of Ghent and Leuven boast medieval sights and interesting architecture.
What to see and where to go in Belgium?
The most interesting and beautiful places to visit, photos and a brief description.
Grand Place (Brussels)
Historic square in Brussels. Its architectural ensemble is included in the UNESCO heritage. The main architectural objects are the town hall and the Khlebny Dom (King's House). The square itself was founded in the 12th century. A century later, the Bread House was erected. And in the 15th century, the building of the town hall was built in the Gothic style. Thousands of tourists come here on 15 August. It is on this day that the square is covered with a carpet of millions of bright flowering begonias.
Manneken Pis (Brussels)
The famous fountain-statue depicting a naked boy urinating in a pool. Located near the Grand Place. Local historians disagree on when this monument was erected. According to various sources, this happened in the XIV or XV century. It was given its modern look by Jérôme Decénois in 1619. On holidays, the stream of water is replaced with beer or wine. The boy's wardrobe is changed by honored guests of the city to the music of the orchestra.
The construction is a symbol of Brussels and a symbol of scientific and technological progress that allows for the peaceful use of atomic energy. It is made in the form of an iron crystal lattice enlarged by 165 billion times. Some of the 18-meter spheres are available for viewing by visitors. Between them, you can move along the connecting pipes, in which escalators are installed. A high-speed elevator delivers to the observation deck in the upper ball. Next to the Atomium is the mini-Europe miniature park.
50th Anniversary Park (Brussels)
A popular holiday destination for locals and visitors alike. It occupies an area of 37 hectares. There are many tall trees in the park, walking paths are laid, there is a small fountain. The main building is the Arc de Triomphe. It was erected in 1905, 50 meters high. There are three museums in the exhibition pavilions near it. An unusual architectural monument is the “Temple of Human Passions”, an ancient pavilion in the form of a Greek temple.
Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert (Brussels)
The first covered shopping galleries in Europe. Opened in 1847. The glazed passage of the galleries is 212 meters long. It houses shops, art salons, restaurants. There is a cinema, theater stage, a museum of manuscripts and letters. All three galleries of the complex are incredibly luxurious. Various categories of goods are presented - ethnic, antique, branded, as well as the famous Belgian sweets.
Canals of Bruges
A unique water canal network that permeates the city center. Similar to the famous canals of Amsterdam. For an atmosphere of calm and silence, tourists go on a boat trip. Excursions are held on open pleasure boats. This allows you to fully appreciate the beautiful ancient architecture of the city. Boats sail under stone bridges, past merchant mansions, unusual buildings and linden alleys.
Belfort and Market Square (Bruges)
One of the most popular places in Bruges is the Market Square. This is a historical place of the city, now completely pedestrian. The center of the market square is the Belfort Tower, which is a UNESCO heritage site. The construction of the bell tower began in 1240 and was completed in the 15th century. The tower is 83 meters high and was built in the Gothic style. There are 47 bells on the upper tier. Previously, the building performed a sentinel function, a treasury was placed here and archives were stored. You can climb up the narrow spiral staircase.
Burg Square (Bruges)
The area is surrounded by ancient architectural buildings. It attracts many tourists, it is the historical center of the city. The decoration of Burg Square is the town hall, built in the XIV-XV centuries. Three high towers and gilded sculptures on the facade make it incredibly beautiful. Other interesting buildings are the Governor's Residence, the Judicial Chamber and the Old Civil Registry.
Basilica of the Holy Blood (Bruges)
Located on Burg Square. It was built in the XII century. For Christians, the basilica is important. A valuable religious relic is stored here - a piece of cloth soaked in Christ's blood. The church consists of two parts. The lower one is made in the Romanesque style and consists of two chapels. The altar of one of them is made of black marble. The upper part of the basilica is made in the Gothic style.
Herb Street and Grain Street (Ghent)
Embankments of Ghent, located on opposite banks of the river Lys. They form a harmonious architectural complex; in the Middle Ages, these streets were the center of trade. Historical buildings of the 17th-19th centuries have been preserved here. - houses of merchant guilds, built in the style of the Flemish Renaissance, Brabant Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassical. Grass Street and Grain Street are popular places for tourists to walk. Restaurants with summer terraces are open in many houses. After a hearty dinner, you can take a boat ride.
Grote Markt (Antwerp)
The main square of the city of Antwerp is often called the pearl of architecture. The square was founded in the 16th century and since then many buildings with interesting architecture have appeared on it. For example, the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the seven naves in the Gothic style, which was built for almost 200 years. Gothic and Renaissance are combined in the town hall building. Guild houses are distinguished by interesting decor. In the middle of the square is a fountain with a statue of a warrior.
The railway station, which is recognized as one of the most significant sights of Antwerp. He has repeatedly taken places in the top ten most beautiful stations in the world. The building was erected at the beginning of the 20th century according to the project of the architect L. Delasenzeri. The appearance of the station resembles a palace and a cathedral at the same time due to the solemn architecture and the richness of the facade decoration. More than 20 types of marble were used to decorate the interiors.
Royal Palace (Brussels)
The residence of the monarch of Belgium, official events are held in it. The palace was built at the end of the 18th century. In 1904 he received a new facade in the style of classicism. Several rooms of the palace and a terrace are open to visitors from late July to late September. The Imperial Room contains fresh flowers from all the provinces of Belgium. In the Hall of Mirrors, the ceiling is lined with millions of wings of Thailand's scarab beetles.
Leuven Town Hall
Built at the end of the 15th century in the Gothic style. Located near the church of St. Peter. Survived several restorations after the world wars. The facade of the town hall is decorated with 236 statues and scenes from the Bible, it has many turrets and small windows. Leuven City Hall is considered one of the most luxurious medieval buildings in the world. The interior decoration is also great. The walls are decorated with paintings by famous artists.
The visitor's center tells about the history of the European Parliament. About what tasks and goals it faces, how its members are going to solve them. In the halls of the center there are many interactive diagrams, installations and stands that tell in detail about the work of the European Parliament. The exhibition is open every day, admission is free, there are audio guides in 24 official languages of the European Union.
Menin Gate (Ypres)
Monument, a tribute to the memory of soldiers who died in the First World War. Visually resemble an arch. At the top of the composition you will see a plan of the disposition of the troops of that time in the battle for the city of Ypres. This architectural monument is crowned with the figure of a lion. The names of the dead and missing soldiers and officers are carved on the inner slabs of the arch. Every day, since the opening of the monument, at 20.00 the trumpeter at the gate plays the all-clear signal. The tradition was interrupted only during the years of the occupation of the city during the Second World War.
Ladder "Mount de Buren" (Liège)
Built in 1881, the main task is to provide quick access for soldiers from the garrison located on the top to the city center in the event of an enemy invasion or popular uprising. The staircase consists of 374 steps. When climbing, you can relax on the platforms with benches installed at different heights. From the top there is a beautiful view of the city of Liege. In October, the Night Hills festival takes place here. During it, thousands of candles are placed on the stairs.
Settlements of single women - unmarried or widows united in communes. In Belgium, beguinages are architectural ensembles that include residential buildings, cells and chapels. The courtyard was planted with flowers or used as a vegetable garden. Beguinages became especially popular in the 13th century. In total, about 80 such complexes have survived in the world, of which 30 are located in Belgium and are included in the UNESCO heritage list.
Saint-Michel-et-Gudul Cathedral (Brussels)
An excellent example of gothic art. The cathedral is a composition with two symmetrical towers 64 meters high. There is a bell in the north tower. The staircase of each tower leads to a picturesque terrace. The interior is dominated by a combination of asceticism and pomposity. Magnificent statues of the apostles adorn the snow-white columns. Organ concerts are often held in the cathedral for everyone.
Notre Dame (Tournay)
The cathedral is included in the list of objects protected by UNESCO, to date, has been preserved in good condition. Construction of the cathedral began in 1100 and was completed only in the 14th century. Over the years, the building style has changed from Romanesque to Gothic. The cathedral stands out for its towers - the central tower with a pyramidal roof and 4 corner towers, in which the bell towers are located. The height of all towers is approximately 83 meters.
Cathedral of Saint Bavo (Ghent)
In 942, a wooden church was founded, which was subsequently expanded and rebuilt in the Gothic style. The construction of the cathedral is famous for its Ghent altar. It is 3.5 meters high and 5 meters wide. It is considered one of the most important works of art in the world. The images of the altar show scenes from the revelation of John the Evangelist. In total, 258 human silhouettes are depicted on the panels of the altar.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp
This cathedral is one of the largest in the Roman Catholic Church, besides it is of great architectural value. The highest tower of the cathedral is 123 meters high. Construction began in 1352 and has not been completed to this day. The building style is Gothic. The works of art stored in the cathedral are also of great value. These are the works of artists Matrin de Vos, Jacob de Backer and Otto van Veen.
Plantin-Moretus Museum (Antwerp)
The history of this museum is closely connected with the history of printing in Europe. One of the first printing houses in Europe was opened in Antwerp in 1555. In 1877, the city authorities opened a museum with exhibits of the 16th century printing business and a library in the building of the printing house. It is included in the UNESCO heritage list. The library funds include 30,000 copies of historical and valuable books. Among the exhibits of the museum there are printing presses from 1600.
Royal Museums of Fine Arts (Brussels)
The museum complex, which includes most of the works of art in Belgium. It was founded in 1801. 1200 objects of European painting of the XIV-XVIII centuries. housed in the Museum of Ancient Art. They are divided into collections - French and Italian, Dutch, Flemish. Museums Magritte contains about 150 of his works from different periods of creativity. The Museum of Modern Art presents the works of Belgian masters - surrealist artists, impressionists, sculptors. The above museums are located in Brussels. In its suburb, the city of Ixelles, there are two more museums of artists - the Wirtz Museum and the Meunier Museum.
Museum of Musical Instruments (Brussels)
One of the largest museums of this kind in the world. Contains more than 8,000 instruments of various types - folk, academic and traditional. The museum was founded in 1877 on the basis of the collections of the musicologist Fetis and King Leopold II. Since 2000, it has been housed within the walls of a historic Art Nouveau building. More than 100,000 people visit the museum every year. Periodically, the museum organizes concerts of performers on modern instruments.
Museum "In the fields of Flanders" (Ypres)
Unique atmosphere of front-line Ypres. The expositions of the museum exhibit wartime items - weapons, uniforms of soldiers, original documents. Modern technologies allow the museum to show the bloody battles of the First World War on a special interactive map. Personal stories as well as those of nurses, priests and soldiers are shown on video kiosks. The name of the museum is taken from a poem by McCrae.
MAS Museum (Antwerp)
The name of the museum stands for "Museum on the River". It is located next to the Scheldt River in a modern red sandstone and glass building. Along its perimeter there is a large spiral staircase leading to the observation deck on the top floor. The museum's funds contain collections of various subjects - archeology, navigation, the history of the region, ethnography and a collection of works of art. Museum exhibitions attract a large number of visitors.
Castle of the Counts of Flanders (Ghent)
The castle was built in 1180. Its defensive system has reached the present day almost in its original form. Over the years, the castle has been used as a textile factory, mint, courtroom and prison. Now the city authorities have located a museum of justice and weapons in the castle. Most of the exhibits are instruments of torture and a collection of ancient weapons.
Castle Steen (Antwerp)
The fortress was founded in the XIII century, during the reign of Charles V it was significantly rebuilt. For five centuries the castle was used as a prison. Part of the fortress was demolished in the 19th century to combat the shallowing of the Scheldt River. Almost one facade remained from the castle. In 1890, the Museum of Archeology was opened in Sten Castle, and later the Museum of Navigation. Near the castle there is a monument to the character of folklore Long Wapper.
You can get into the cave on a sightseeing tram that runs from the nearby village directly to the grottoes of the cave. Inside, the humidity is high, and the temperature is kept at 13 ° C. The main objects of inspection in the cave are stalagmites. One of them, 5 meters high, is called the Minaret. Its age is estimated at 12,000 years. A light show is held for sightseers, and a volley from a cannon will help you appreciate the acoustics of the cave.
Museum complex near the city of Waterloo. Dedicated to the grandiose battle in which Napoleon Bonaparte suffered his last defeat. It consists of a museum, a circular panorama of the battle and an artificial forty-meter hill with a statue of a lion on top. "Waterloo" is a must-visit for any tourist who is at least a little interested in history. Its creators were perfectly able to convey the spirit of the Napoleonic era.
Lake of Love (Bruges)
Located in Minnwater Park. Snow-white swans swim in the waters of a beautiful lake. All of them belong to the city of Bruges, so they have a label with the letter "B" and the date of birth on their beaks. You can take a boat trip on the lake. This will provide an opportunity to see an old bridge and a gingerbread house on its picturesque banks. There are always many artists with easels and couples in love on the shores of the fabulous lake.
The park is located 60 km. from Brussels. Combines a zoo and a botanical garden. An ancient abbey and ruins of ancient buildings have been preserved on the territory of the park. The botanical garden, zoo enclosures, terrarium and oceanarium are located among the architectural monuments. The park has several themed areas. While walking along it, you can visit the African savannah, tropical forests, a lagoon with a ship and a submarine.
De Panne Beach
The resort on the North Sea was founded in 1831. Nowadays, the white sand beach is always crowded. The water in the sea warms up no higher than 20 ° C, but there are no rays of the scorching sun and exhausting heat. Because of the strong wind, De Panne Beach is appreciated by yachting and surfing enthusiasts. On the shore there are sports grounds, a golf course, attractions and a karting center. Sports festivals and concerts are often held.
Festival of electronic and dance music. It began to be held in 2005 and now it is one of the most famous festivals in the world. In 2017, it was visited by 400,000 people from 75 countries, including King Philippe of Belgium and his wife. The festival takes place in De Shhor park. A huge tent camp with the name "City of Dreams" is being built here. An enchanting concert show is complemented by laser light, pyrotechnics and incredible scenery.