Welcome to the unofficial capital of Europe. As the home of the EU, Brussels has the reputation of being a city of bureaucrats and functionaries, but this historic city will surprise you with its beauty and charm.
One of the things that makes Brussels so fascinating is its turbulent past. Home to successive ruling dynasties, it has been ruled over by the Dukes of Brabant and of Burgundy, by the Spanish Hapsburgs and the Austrians, by the French and the Dutch. Now it’s the capital of Belgium and the unofficial capital of Europe, as home of the EU.
Some of the top attractions are the Grand’Place with its stunning Baroque guild houses, the elegant Sablon district with its art galleries and antique market, and the retro-futuristic Atomium. But Brussels is also full of quirky, hidden treasures like a marionette theater that doubles as a bar, and an Art Nouveau masterpiece that houses a comic strip museum.
Grand’Place and Historic Center: Start your visit with a tour of the main sights and historic heart of the city. Learn more about the beautiful architecture of the Grand’Place and explore the surrounding area, with its cobblestone alleyways and grand avenues, chocolate shops and beer cafés.
Victor Horta and the Birth of Art Nouveau: Brussels is internationally recognized as the birthplace of Art Nouveau, an architectural style developed at the end of the 19th century by Belgian architects. Visit Horta’s own house, restored as a museum that displays his unique creative genius.
Art Nouveau and Art Deco: The city center boasts an incredible array of architectural styles, from Gothic to ultra-modern. If you know where to look, you can find stunning examples of the Art Nouveau style from the turn of the 20th century, and of Art Deco, which flourished in the period between WWI and WWII.
Pieter Brueghel and the Marolles: Learn about this unique Flemish artist who pioneered the depiction of ordinary people going about their business in the 16th century. See his paintings in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and then take a stroll through the neighborhood where he lived and worked.