What I Love About Brussels, Part Two

A few months ago, I published a little about why I love Brussels. I hope that post piqued your interest in the capital of Europe; it’s a really great town. Now that I’ve seen it dressed up for Christmas, there is even more reason to love it.

The Grande Place in her Christmas finery is fantastic. We are not going to talk about the “tree” that was placed there this year, except to say that it wasn’t a real one, it didn’t even pretend to look like a real one, and it was placed by Electrabel, the local electric company. That last fact should give you your first clue as to its appropriateness. It was removed by New Years’ Eve, in spite of the fact that all the other decorations are left until the Feast of the Epiphany, January Sixth; that should give you a second clue. Suffice to say, everyone I spoke with thought the same thing about it: a fake tree in such an ancient location, amidst those old and beautiful buildings? But that was a small mark on an otherwise beautiful face.

The Hotel de Ville (essentially the city government offices) gets lit up with changing colored lights. Songs play, too; video linked below.

The Hotel de Ville (essentially the city government offices) gets lit up with changing colored lights.

This is what the main spire looks like from the top of Parking 58. One word: Wow.

This is what the main spire of Brussels’ Hotel de Ville  looks like from the top of Parking 58. It looks like a fairy princess’ castle in this shot, doesn’t it? That’s how it looks in real life, too. Cinderella’s prince might live here.

Brussels’ creche is famous for its beauty. At Christmas, in the shadow of the old buildings, appear a stable and life-sized figures.

From a distance, you think the figures are real people.

From a distance, you think the figures are real people. Mary, in particular, is beautiful as she gazes out at us enigmatically.

The Grande Place isn’t all that looks beautiful. The Bourse is the stock exchange, or at least it was, until everything started being traded online. Now there are exhibits there, and for all I know, they still do stock exchanging there! I just know it’s a beautiful old building, even without the Christmas lights. Light it up, and it simply takes your breath away.

Front view of the stock exchange building

Front view of the stock exchange building

Another view of La Bourse

Another view of La Bourse

The city streets are beautifully attired. Depending on where you go, the lights may be all white, or they may be in colors. In the old city, they tend to be colorful. The street below leads to the Grande Place.

Beautiful big spheres hang between the old buildings.

Then in the newer sections of town, the lights tend to be white, although I’m not sure they all are. Here, near La Bourse, big white “bells” suspend over the street. A symmetrical, aesthetic delight.

Near la Bourse: note the subway entrance to the right.

Even random buildings look pretty.

Even random buildings look pretty.

There are several different Christmas markets throughout the city. The one visible from the top of Parking 58, located on Sainte Catherine Square, is an attention get-ter.

The view of one of the Christmas markets from Parking 58.

The view of one of the Christmas markets from Parking 58: red trees and a ferris wheel! Grab a cup of vin chaud (warm wine) and enjoy.

Speaking of parking, if you want a good view of Brussels from above, head to the top of Parking 58, accessed from just down the street from  La Bourse, then left. 360 degree views, depending on the weather. On this particular night it was clear enough for me to get a relatively focused shot of the Atomium, located way on the outskirts of town.

The Atomium lights up at night like a futuristic Christmas Tree.

The Atomium lights up every night (not just at Christmas)  like a futuristic Christmas Tree.

Lest I forget (and how could I?), the shop windows at Christmas are lovely. The chocolate shops in particular go all-out for the season.

A chocolate shop inside La Galerie de la Reine

A chocolate shop inside La Galerie de la Reine

This one has a chocolate merry go round!

This one has a chocolate merry go round!

Pere Noel? Or just Santa?

Père Noël? Or just Santa?

brussels galerie de la reine z

Inside La Galerie de la Reine

La Galerie de la Reine is one of several small shopping galleries near the Grande Place. These buildings are old, but not ancient. Not to be outdone by the shops inside, they dress up, too.

And one must never forget the iconic symbol of Brussels.

Mannekin Pis at Christmas

Mannekin Pis at Christmas

Like I’ve said before, you gotta love a city whose symbol is a little boy peeing. I don’t know why he is naked on this cold, cold day. He has hundreds of outfits stashed away in the Maison du Roi on the Grande Place. (He really does; I’ve seen them. He even has an Elvis outfit!)

And of course, there must be equal rights for peeing dog statues. Have I said how much I love Brussels? Oh, yeah, I guess I did. Well, just in case…I really love Brussels. Who wouldn’t?

Doggie Pis

Doggie Pis

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About Sunny

I'm an American with a Spanish heart, and one foot in France. But both feet are in Belgium, along with the rest of me.
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4 Responses to What I Love About Brussels, Part Two

  1. Me. I don’t love Brussels. But that probably stems from a not very good choice of food years ago, and a seriously bad time at the airport when they confiscated my camping stove and we never got it back despite complaining.

    So no, Brussels is not on my top list of capital cities. At all.

    • Sunny says:

      I think it’s different if you live nearby. It’s the biggest, most alive nearby city, and there are lots of things to do there. Belgium in general is a weird little country(as I’m sure you know), but there are good things about it. Brussels really is one of them for those of us who live here. I am sorry you had a bad experience! It isn’t always thus!

  2. Pingback: A European Christmas | americanaeneuropa

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