I just love Brussels and so will you after I’ve given you a peek into this wonderful European town. I was there in a meeting last weekend and on Sunday I was walking around on my own to breathe in the cultural atmosphere. Let’s have a quick update of the country: The Kingdom of Belgium is a country in northwest Europe bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France and is one of the founding and core members of the European Union. Belgium has a population of over ten million people, in an area of around 30,000 square kilometers (11,700 square miles). And then the city: Brussels is the capital of Belgium and the administrative center of the European Union. This has earned the city the title of the Capital of Europe. Brussels has been given its character by the coexistence of French and Flemish culture, and it is nowadays home to nationalities around the world, adding a cosmopolitan flavor to its atmosphere. The vibrant atmosphere of Brussels is further enhanced by picturesque medieval streets, lively squares, beautiful boulevards, impressive monuments, spacious parks, cosy cafés, interesting restaurants and an active cultural life. I had 50 pictures in my Nokia mobile phone camera after walking around in the city center and here are a few to give you an idea:

All pics taken with my Nokia mobile phone – please click to enlarge!

Let’s start with this famous boy: Manneken Pis (“little man piss” in English), is a Brussels landmark. It is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a little boy urinating into the fountain’s basin. Similar statues can be found in the Belgian towns of Geraardsbergen, Broksele and Hasselt. Manneken Pis means as much to Brussels as the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty mean to Paris and New York. The tiny statue was cast in bronze in 1619 by Jerome Duquesnoy but was unfortunately destroyed. Another was cast to replace it in 1630. Seemingly destined to doom, the replacement was repeatedly attacked by the English and the French. The spirit of the tiny boy could not be annihilated however, and his remaining fragments were gathered up and used to form the mould from which today’s Manneken Pis was cast. During high season, visitors from around the world gather to see the little; weeing statue’s ever-changing wardrobe. This day he was wearing a uniform and I’m sorry I don’t know exactly what kind – could anybody help?

Of course one cannot talk about Brussels and Belgium without mentioning their lovely chocolates. To the right, you see a shopping window just five steps away from Manneken Pis. Brands of Belgian chocolate, like Neuhaus and Côte d’Or, are world renowned and widely sold; even the cheapest and most popular brand, Leonidas, has earned a reputation for its quality.

Five minutes walk from there you find The Grand Place, the central market square of Brussels. It is surrounded by guild houses, the city’s spectacular Town Hall and the Breadhouse. The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels next to the Atomium.

In the 13th century the predecessor of the Breadhouse was a wooden building where bakers sold their bread in a covered market: the Dutch name Broodhuis recalls this function. It was replaced in the 15th century by a stone building for the administration of the duke of Brabant; when the duchy fell to the Habsburgs, the Maison du duc (Duke’s house) became the Maison du Roi (King’s house). In 1873, the city entrusted architect Victor Jamaer to restore the battered structure in neo-gothic style.

When looking around in the crowed, I realised there was a lot of scouts. In groups they where gathering all around the place. To the right you see a group having their lunch in a very scout way I would say – very cute:-)

Belgians have of course a reputation for loving waffles and French fries (both originated at Belgium). The national food is steak (or mussels) with French fries and lettuce. Even more interesting I think, is that Belgium produces over 500 varieties of beer. Belgian beer comprises the most varied and numerous collections of beers in the world. Belgian beer-brewing’s origins go back to the Middle-Ages, when monasteries began producing beers. Unlike in other European countries, Belgian beer production remained alive due to the 1919 Belgian “Vandervelde Act” that prohibited the sale of spirits in pubs, inducing the market to produce beers with a higher level of alcohol. The Vandervelde Act was lifted as late as 1983.

If you like to have a taste of Belgium beer, Le Roy at Grand Place is a must. I remember last time I was in Brussels was for the European football championship in 2000. I was then in Le Roy after Norway’s lost and was out of the tournament. Never has a Leffe tasted better:-)

I had to go in this time as well of course, and taste some of the variety they can offer. If you like beer, this is the ultimate place. If not, you’ll have a lovely view of Grand Place!

I’ve decided to end up with some beautiful Belgium art tradition; their special hand craft of lace and embroidery. Again not far from Grand Place, you find this shop covered with this traditional sewing art. I met a nice, young woman in this shop who showed me and told about this wonderful tradition. The pattern various from district to district, but I hope you understand: it will take to long to go into details. So for now, just enjoy the pics taken by mo Nokia mobile phone.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this post as much as I have when writing it and searching the net for backgrounds and detailed information. It might have become a bit too long, but I wanted to give you a peek you know:-) This post is also dedicated to a special blog friend of mine, Sidney from Belgium, who has a wonderful photo blog posting from the Philippines (I didn’t mean to make you homesick my friend!). Please visit his blog by clicking here as he is a brilliant photographer.

We had a lovely meal on Saturday at Les Brigittine’s too. My next post will be about that special and culinary sensation!

44 Comments

  1. wonderful pictures!
    I would LOVE to try that chocolate fountain!
    Thanks for stopping by!! I am going to book mark you and come visit again!

  2. What a lovely travel article. Like off the pages of Conde Nast. :-) In the Philippines, Leonidas became available I think just this year (or late 2005) and I didn’t get to even taste it. It’s expensive in Manila standards. Now I think I could easily buy some pralines with a few Norwegian change or øre. :-)

  3. Very interesting about Belgium. The chocolate sounds yummy!

  4. Lovely pics you have there. I find Belgium very interesting and I find the chocolate even more interesting…:)

  5. Hi Renny,

    Glad you enjoyed Brussels. Wonderful description of our capital city.
    Yes, I am a bit homesick (I miss the food) but then I will be home for Christmas (in less than 20 days I am flying home).
    So, you just remindd me of what is waiting for me! :-)
    Thank you for the plug in. It is very nice of you!

  6. Belgium is really a great city! i was there last Dec ’95 … eheemmm, with this post … i wanna go there again ;)

    Happy Sunday to you and your family!

  7. Thank you so much for making a lovely post Renny :)
    I am hopefully going to Brussels in january!
    Have a wonderful week!

  8. Mother of Invention

    What a mix of surrounding cultures Brussels is! And a chocolate and beer lovers’ paradise! I didn’t know French Fries originated there!
    I knew French Lace was famous so it makes sense that they do it there too.
    I love the old architecture.

  9. Brussels is truly a great city to spend time in. There is much to discover, and I love the out of the way small restaurants and cafe’ in the side streets.

  10. Thank you for inviting me on your blog ! It’s very nice Renny ! apparently you had a great time. The café you mention is called “Le Roi d’Espagne” (King of Spain) because he slept there once. It also were (very important !) my rendez-vous place when I met a boyfriend lol ! The uniform of Manneken Piss must be from the Congo and Manneken Piss was created because a little boy pissed on spanish soldiers when they occupied Brussels in 15 something. That’s at least what the Belgians say.
    It’s true that Brussels is a nice town to live but it also had changed a lot the last years, before that, it was well known as a “dead” city because there were never something going on !
    If you are “homesick” don’t forget that you can go again to my travel blog about Brussels.
    http://painting-cats-travelling.blogspot.com/2006/09/brussels-capital-of-belgium-and-europe.html

    It’s a pitty that I didn’t know that you were in Brussels. But probably you also had a lot to do.

  11. @Lindsay: Thanks – yes the chocolates is sooo very tasty. Welcome back any time.

    @Mark: Thanks for the compliments dear friend!

    @Sue: Glad you liked the tour then.

    @Grish: Thanks, and yes: Brussels is a wonderful time and has a lot more to offer:-)

    @Sidney: Thanks for the compliments from you as it after all is your country. I’m glad I could remind you and wish you a lovely Christmas trip!!

    @Racky aka Bakya Ni Neneng: Glad I could take you down the memory lane then:-)

    @Susanna: Wish you a great trip next year and hope you could pick up some tips!

    @MotherOfInvention: Certainly a great mix yea. I was a bit surprised about the French Fries too, but it should be right.
    The architecture is astonishing, yes.

    @David: I’m so agree with you and my next post will be about one of those restaurant:-)

    @Gattina: How lovely to have another expert commenting and thanks for your compliments. Thanks for filling in and enriching with information about the uniform and others!
    I was hoping to meet you – hopefully next time:-)

  12. Thank you Renny for bring back all my fond memories of Brussel :P So the Manneken Pis still that crowded? We were amazed at the size of the Maneken Pis when we visited.

    Hey Renny….my hubby just had Norwegian Salmon and I thought of you this evening :D Yummy!

  13. Oh, this is wonderful! Even though I have been to Brussels only once in my life, you have stirred up so many “Oh Yes!” memories. Donica’s pharma company is headquartered in Brussels, even though her meetings are almost never there. I didn’t know about the other interesting history, though, so thank you.

    There is a museum that houses all the uniforms that have been given to the Mannekin Pis boy over the years by many countries and visiting celebrities. Wouldn’t that be fun to visit.

    We were in Brussels over a Thanksgiving weekend several years ago when they were starting to build the booths for the Christmas market in the Square. I think they had also just brought in a huge evergreen tree. We ate an evening meal somewhere on that square but I don’t know the name of it. I do know we ate upstairs by a window that gave us a view of The Grand Place.

    So many memories, Renny, so little time! :)

  14. Looks like a very charming city that i’d love to take p to visit one day. Thanks for all of the wonderful pics!

    And yes it’s still snowing like crazy outside. We have lots of driving today, so I’m hoping the streets will stay clear.

  15. Your phone camera sure has better resolution than most.

    re: the beer. Where there’s law, there’s a loophole for innovation extruding new directions.

  16. OldOldLady Of The Hills

    Wonderful tour…! The Statue of the little boy..I couldn’t see it too well, and I haven’t a clue about the uniform…It is rather fascinating that this Statue is so important to Belgium…a boy pissing in the fountain…(lol)
    I love seeing all that beautiful embroidary work….it is so very very special…and exquisite! Thanks for the tour of Brussels, Renny.

  17. wow, that’s a terrific tour, renny! i’d like to make a long stop at the chocolatier’s!! i’d forgoten abotu the laces. my parents had lived in france and germany before i was born and made a side trip to belgium. my mother still has some of the lovely laces she bought in brussels.

    wonderful tour with some terrific history included. thanks!

  18. Did you eat in an Indian restaurant in Brussels? I’m pretty sure I saw you. Was that you?

  19. Sounds like a place I need to visit. I like beer! I like chocolate! :)

  20. now i want to visit Belgium!! a lovely place indeed! =)

  21. Estupidormitorian Neil

    Honestly sir, the chocolates made me really craving for it. Haven’t eaten one since August. I stopped eating.

    I haven’t munched on Belgian chocolates. One neighbor attempted to deliver a package for us but it was spoiled in the navigation.

  22. wow! another tour in another place. i love to go there coz of the chocolates. heheheh. and you really love to drink beer, huh. i like the photos of the scouts. they’re cute. and what’s your nokia phone? it’s really handy :)

    sidney is from belgium?!?!? hehehe

  23. What wonderful descriptions of Brussels, Renny! You’ve made me want to visit there. mmmmm . . . chocolate . . . . mmmmmm . . . .beer. :-)
    And what a nice tribute to Sidney! :-)

  24. Hei Renny,
    Very nice description of Brussels. I have never been there but I am looking forward to see it as soon as we have another european trip.

    Your pictures are wonderful and I am sure sidney is really homesick! :)

  25. Thanks for the travel-logue. The architecture is just beautiful.

  26. @Shionge: I’m glad I could recall your lovely memories. Glad you’ve had Norwegian Salmon too – my favourite fish:-)

    @Ginnie: Glad I could take you down the memory line again Ginnie! Didn’t know about that museum and have to look it up next time. The restaurant you where mentioning might be the one I was in!

    @ExpatTraveler: Ohh, I thought you had been there before – I’m sure P will love it and the variety of beers:-)
    It’s pouring rain here – strange fall and now it’s soon December and no snow:-(

    @Pearl: Yes, the camera helps capturing my daily life quite well. Well said about the law.

    @OldOldLady Of The Hills: yes, it’s remarkable that this little fellow getting so much attention. The art craft is just wonderful – I’m glad you liked it all.

    @Lime: Didn’t know you had relatives from there. Your mother is lucky to have this laces then!

    @Anonymous: Which day and when did you think you saw me?

    @Teena: Must be a perfect visit for both you and your husband;:-)

    @ralpT: I do recommend you take the trip!

    @EstupidormitorianNeil: Hope you get the chance to taste the chocolate – better luck next time!

    @Tin-tin: Well, we can both have what we like in Brussels then:-) Yes Sidney is – didn’t you know?

    @Lisa: Yes, Sidney’s country and Brussels is just lovely!

    @AL: Hope you go there soon – please keep us posted:-)

    @balou: Thanks for the compliments – glad you liked it too.

  27. I just love how you take time to describe everything and put in some background on the place. Now I’ve added yet another place I want to visit just as soon as I can afford it!

  28. Renny – What a wonderful tour! Reading about your trip and the history is a wonderful escape! Thanks!

  29. When I think of Belgium ( and Brussels) I am reminded of Belgian chocolates and those small shrimps they eat on a tomato with french fries! yummy!

  30. Hi Renny!
    this post is very educational and the buildings are sensational,they looked like a cathedral to me,very breathtaking.

    And your post is in detailed,it open our eyes on how beauty Belgium is.honestly,Ive never know the capital,Brussels,name of it,LOL!
    thanx!!
    and sorry for being late,i was busy moving my site,my URL si so new now,pls update your link if you have some time.

    http://www.akoni.info

    thanx,Renny!

    ghee

  31. just to clarify….my parents weren’t from europe, my dad was in the air force and stationed in germany and france before i was born. mom often told stories about their time there though and of course photo albums helped too.

  32. Oh Belgium is dear to my heart.
    It is my lifeblood. The culture I was raised with.
    My parents are not Belgian, nor did I live there.
    My parents were very young when they married, then they had me. They were not wealthy. Dad was a young police officer and my Mom stayed home to raise me, so they could not save alot of money. They made an arrangement with a Belgian family, and we lived with them to save money. We lived in their basement appartment, and in turn my Mom raised their daughter with me. So we had 4 adults and two children in one house. 3 adults went out to work, and Mom stayed home to raise myself and Annette as sisters.
    We were like a Big family. Our parents shared in the rearing of us girls and we knew no other way. I spoke French upstairs and English downstairs. Marcel and Andrea taught us cooking and etiquette, and my Mother taught us crafts and did homework with us. My Dad took us to all outdoor activities like skating and skiiing, baseball, etc.
    When Annette was a teen my parents had saved enough to move into our own home.
    Upon the weddings of Annette and I our parents stood together to say they all raised two great girls together!

  33. Renny, your story and photos made so many good memories from Bruxelles come to the surface. Did you know, my first visit to Bruxelles, was by a 20 feet boat all the way from Norway.

  34. What great photos! Your writing is like a wonderful tour through the area, thank you for sharing with us!

  35. great that you love our country especially brussels.
    As i’m reading this i’m in norway visiting oslo for a few days. wow what a great town this is

  36. @ttfotball: Thanks for the compliments – that’s always my intention!

    @Hexe: Glad you enjoyed the trip too!

    @Duke: yea, its great. I had the first, but not the second you where mentioning.

    @Ghee: Again I am so glad you appreciate me giving you some details and background from my travels. To me to collect it enriches the trip and makes it even more satisfying to blog it too.
    I’ve updated my blogroll of course:-)

    @Lynn: Thanks for your comment – it’s always a great read from you. I am glad I could take you down the memory lane with this and inspire you to share some of your background which indeed must have given you a good platform for life.

    @TorAa: Glad I could take you down the memory lane too. Didn’t now about your boat stry, no – so thanks for sharing!

    @RheLynn: Thanks for your compliments and you’re welcome too of course!

    @Tine: I do love Brussels and now I am so excited. I do hope you read this in time to get back to me so that we can meet while you are in Oslo! Please drop me a line!

  37. hi Renny,

    oh I’m sorry but just read your message. It would have been nice to have met you but we are leaving Oslo tommorrow at noon. we had a terrific time here visiting vigeland, the viking museum, harbor ect and are now on our way to eat reindeer at the Mona Lisa Restaurant. I.m sure we will be back sometime, maybe next year. Hope to meet you then. read about our trip to Oslo soon on my blog

  38. Renny:

    You never did say whether or not that was you in the Indian restaurant in Brussels. Was it?

  39. @Tine: Hopefully next time then! Glad you had a nice stay anyway and hope the reindeer tasted lovely!

    @Ano: I think I commented it on the other post. Which day and when did you saw me? May I ask who you are as well?

  40. Hey Renny,
    I noticed no one commented on the uniform on the pissing boy… it looks like French Napolean, or very similar.

    Anyone else considering it’s origin?

    Also, Belgian beer and Dutch beer…some of the best in Europe… amazing.

    Ramy

  41. I’m pretty sure that was you in the Indian restaurant. Why don’t you admit it? Are you ashamed of liking Indian food?

  42. @Anonymus: I’ve nothing to hide. I just don’t know who you are.

  43. beautiful blog merciiii

  44. Pingback:Best Towns In the USA

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