Europe Photoblogging, Part 14: Brussels
By Dwip September 21, 2014, 12:36 pm Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

This is part of the Grand Sablon square and Sablon neighborhood in Brussels, as viewed from my hotel room. Just out of frame to the north is a very nice 15th century church. I was there from 6/13 to 6/17/04 to visit Stephanie, who you may recall from the London posts. I chronicle the adventures here.

My means of travel was by Eurostar train from London direct to Brussels via the Chunnel, which was a bit of an experience.

This is the Hotel de Ville, which dates from the 15h century and is the town hall of Brussels. You can’t really see it in this picture, but it has a central spire that goes up quite a bit further and is a visible landmark all over Brussels.

The Hotel de Ville forms one side of the Grand Place, the central square of Brussels. This is another side of the square, looking at a bunch of what used to be guildhalls back when those were a going concern.

This is the main doorway of the Hotel de Ville. I love this thing – you can see three seperate doorways in one half of this thing, never mind the exquisite decoration. Also some dude taking a load off, which he looks like he needs.

I sometimes enjoy taking pictures juxtaposing beautiful old European buildings with crass commercialism. This is one of those times. Do do do do do always Coca-Cola.

I can’t complain, considering how much Coke fueled my trip.

This is the Mannekin Pis, which as you can see is a statue of a little boy peeing. If you did that today you’d probably get arrested, but since it’s from 1618, it’s a famous tourist attraction. You’re seeing him fairly unadorned, but I’m informed that it’s pretty popular to dress him up in various little outfits for various occasions.

This is a giant fountain/pond at one end of the Parc de Bruxelles, with the Palais de la Nation, the Belgian Parliament building, in the background.

I spent a fair amount of time here – it’s a neat place, and there were a few times I had to kill some time waiting for Stephanie to do things.

One must sometimes have dramatic sunset shots, and this is mine – the Hotel de Ville and Grand Place from the Mont des Arts, itself one of the more scenic spaces in Brussels.

This is from the other end of the Mont des Arts. You can still see the spire of the Hotel de Ville in the distance, along with one of the formal gardens that help make Brussels such a beautiful city.

This turns out to be the Musical Instrument Museum, housed in an 1899 department store. It’s a nifty building, one of the ones Stephanie specifically took me to go see. Didn’t quite make it to the museum though.

This is the Palais Royal de Bruxelles, which is apparently where the King does all his courtly duties. Like a lot of things in Brussels, it’s from that period just before the First World War when Europe was at its height.

This is the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, which is a shopping arcade from 1847. This, folks, is how people went to the mall in 19th century Brussels. It’s still a pretty upscale shopping area today, among other things.

This is a piece of the old medieval wall, such as it is. There are other, nicer chunks scattered around, but this is the one you get to see.

This is the interior of the medieval Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, the cathedral of Brussels. It’s a lot smaller than many of the English cathedrals I’ve been in, but it has a rather cozy air about it, which is how I felt about Brussels in general.

This is apparently the south transept of the cathedral, with a stained glass window depicting Louis II and Maria of Hungary. Maria was the sister of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, who’s in the window in the north transept. This 1538 window and its 1537 counterpart across the way are the sort of thing you do when you’re trying to get in good with the man, and Charles V was kind of a big deal.

At the bottom is what I imagine to be a monument to Petrus Joseph Triest, who founded a couple of local charity orders in the early 19th century.

And about those paragraphs, man, trying to find this stuff is a bit hard, especially when everything’s in French. Thankfully, the Belgians are better at English than I am any of the zillion things they speak.

Do you like the Hotel de Ville? I like the Hotel de Ville, and here it is at night, lit up. This is one of the more famous sights of Brussels, and somewhere I have this particular view on one of those super touristy t-shirts people buy and then regret forever.

The traditional set of trip detritus, from left to right:

* A flyer and ticket from the Cinquantenaire Museum. Big place, lots of really cool stuff, no pictures allowed. Seriously, I hate those places. Yet another why British Museum is best museum.

* My tourist map of Brussels. Most of the stuff there is in pretty easy walking distance, though we often took the Brussels metro places instead.

* My Eurostar ticket from London to Brussels.

* My ticket for the Brussels Metro.

* My room card for my hotel.

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