And so for two weeks, I was booked at the B-Aparthotels in Square Ambiorix. Square Ambiorix is a oval shaped park named after one of Belgium’s heroes. The square had different bronze statues and fountains which are unfortunately not on while I was there. I’m not sure if it’s related to the climate. Anyways on both ends of the square are two elongated parks, to the east has a playground while to the west is another open park. The whole square is also surround by different residential buildings, mostly new buildings but traditional looking buildings line up the streets that ends at Ambiorix.
At the west end of the Square Ambiorix is another big park which its main characteristic is this lake, i guess it’s man-made. Anyways, this park is called Square Marie-Louise. This is one of the tranquil escapes in this area wherein people can relax and feed ducks and geese paddling freely in its waters. It also had some willow trees on its banks and different statues around it.
About a block away from our hotel is the European Commission Building of the European Union located in an area called Schuman, named after Robert Schuman, a French statesman whom is one of the founders of the EU.
A few meters eastward from Schuman is one of the largest parks in the city, the Cinquantenaire Park, also known as the Jubilee Park or Jubelpark in Dutch. The most distinctive landmark in this beautiful park is the archway on the east end of the park that looked like the Brandenburg Gate of Berlin. It had a huge bronze statue on top of it of two men on a four-horsed chariot. It also had three other statues of men and a woman carrying different items. They say that this is like the Arc de Triomphe of Paris to Brussels.
Anyways, this archway is connected to other buildings and stands at the middle of them which formed a U shape. Both sides are museums where the one to its right is the Royal Army Museum. While in front of the arch is a wide open park with benches and a lawn area. Around the park, it is beautifully surrounded by yellowish maple trees that were starting to shed their autumn leaves. And one strange thing is in the very center of the park and this is an avenue that goes through a tunnel to pass under the road and the front entrance of the park. The avenue goes above ground briefly giving vehicles a good view of the archway and once again goes through another tunnel that passes under the archway and goes out about 300 meters east of the archway. Unusual but it looked nice.
The Cinquantenaire Park is situated on a hill side and it rises above the Rue de la Loi which basically goes under the park. And near the west end of this road lies another park near the center of the city which is the Brussels Park. Brussels Park is another huge park but this one if filled with trees with marked path for people. It also had benches all around plus mostly the paths are mostly ground. Also Brussels Park is situated in the middle of the Belgian Federal Parliament on its north end and the Royal Palace of Belgium to its south.
A few meters further on Rue de la Loi through other streets stand the Cathedral of Saint Michael which was built as early as 1047 with a Gothic design. This cathedral is commonly used in royal weddings and christenings. Across this imposing cathedral is a small park dedicated to St. Gudula. Both Saints Michael and Gudula are patron saints of Brussels. Unfortunately, I was not able to get inside the cathedral, because the time I walked past it is around 7am in a Sunday morning and it was still closed.
Not far from the cathedral through narrow streets is Brussels’ old town center and market, known as the La Grand’Place or the Grote Markt. It is the old town center’s main plaza where the market and different activities used to be held. Situated in this plaza is the Brussels Town Hall, the Maison du Roi or King’s House in French but known as Breadhouse in Dutch, and different buildings that stand side by side with tipped rooftops. The town hall had a tower with shorter ones around it and it had a statue of St. Michael slaying the demon. The king’s house that is across the town hall itself had an intricate design across its facade and its rooftop as well.
At the building to the right of the Maison du Roi, on street level there is a golden monument of Everard ‘t Serclaes who once saved the city from the attack of the Flemish. This monument was carved by Julien Dillens and has since became famous for giving luck and granting wishes to those who touches it giving it a constant shine.
On that same street walking southwest, walking a little further we get to see the most famous icon of Brussels and this is the statue of a small boy pissing, known as the Manneken Pis. It stands about 24 inches and is simply a decoration to a fountain which I guess became an instant celebrity specially that it gets dressed differently. It even had its own collection of wardrobe. On this street, there are some chocolate and waffle stores that make profit due to this very famous destination.
Another famous icon in Brussels is the modern structure known as the Atomium. It is structure that looked liked a molecule structure where spherical structure are connected to other spherical structures by columnar structures. Well we only visited this at night since my colleagues knew that it looked better at night, plus there is not much to see inside plus the cost is too expensive. The Atomium stands near the Mini Europe park which contained miniatures of different European icons.
Some other places that we visited in this city is the mall area of City 2 and Gallerie where I bought my wife her Longchamp bag. Aside from the mall, outside it is a street long of shopping stores. And aside from seeing Brussels, I was glad to have gone to other cities in Belgium like in Leuven, Antwerp, and in Bruges and also Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Overall, Brussels for me is impressive with its beautiful architecture, cool weather, and scenic nature in this autumn time. Very very nice.