Around the Grand Place
Musée du Costume et de la Dentelle
A narrow street off the south side of the Grand' Place just to the left of the Hôtel de Ville leads in a few steps to the Musée du Costume et de la Dentelle (Museum voor de Kleedertracht en de Kant) on the left-hand side a short way down the hill. As well as documenting the history of fashion from the 17th to the 19th C. the museum is a shrine to the art of Brussels lace making.
Address: Rue de la Violette 6, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium
Opening hours: 10am-12:30pm, 1:30pm-5pm; Sun: 10am-12:30pm, 2pm-4:30pm; Closed: Sat
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €2.50
Useful tips: Free admission for those under 18 on weekends.
Guides: Guided tour available as optional extra.
Facilities: Gift shop
Manneken Pis, a statue of a little boy urinating, is Brussels' most famous landmark. While this well-known figure has been stolen on several occasions, it has always been recovered and remained in the heart of the city's old town.
Ilôt Sacré, the district extending north of the Grand' Place as far as the Place de la Monnaie, was the original Senne island on which St Géry founded his chapel. Nowadays it is known for its numerous, always busy, restaurants and bars in the Rue des Bouchers (Beenhouwerstraat) and the streets around it.
Toone Puppet Theater
Tucked away in a narrow cul-de-sac called the Impasse Schuddeveld is one of Brussels' oldest institutions, the "Toone Puppet Theater", carried on by the Toone family for seven generations.
Situated only a short distance from the northeast corner of the Grand' Place is one of the first covered shopping arcades to be built in Europe, the Galéries Saint-Hubert completed in 1846. There are two main arcades, one either side of the Rue des Bouchers, the nearer of the two being the Galérie de la Reine (Queen's Gallery) with, on the other side of the road, the Galérie du Roi (King's Gallery). Off the latter runs the little Galérie des Princes (Princes' Gallery). The motto "Omnibus omnia" ("Everything for everyone") above the entrance is all that remains of the silversmiths' guild house demolished when the Galéries were built. The three-storied arcade is a shoppers' delight with luxury boutiques, cafes, restaurants and chocolate shops.
Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (Muntschouwburg)
Turning left at the end of the Galéries leads to the Place de la Monnaie and the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, both of which take their name from the 15th C. Hôtel de la Monnaie, the Duchy of Brabant's mint, which originally stood there. Designed by the architect Damesme, the Neo-Classical theater, its facade embellished with Ionic columns and gable relief, was built in 1819 to replace an earlier building, also a theater. It was here on August 25, 1830 that the Belgian Revolution began. During a performance of the opera "La Muette de Portici" (by D. F. Auber) the audience, stirred by the duet "Sacred Love of the Fatherland", rushed out onto the streets sparking off the rebellion against the Netherlands. The theater burned down in 1855 and was then rebuilt with the original facade. It was here also that Maurice Béjart founded his world-famous ballet company "Ballet du XXme Siècle" (now based in Lausanne).Built on the site of a mint, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie is a splendid example of a mid-19th century opera house (it opened in 1856) but is probably best known today for its productions of contemporary operas and introductions of new works. It also boasts a famous spot in Belgian history. In 1830 a patriotic duet during an opera performance so aroused the crowd that it stormed into the street and was the catalyst for Belgian independence that year. The season runs from early September through to late June and one opera is performed at a time. The box office, located on the right side of the house, is open Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Place de Brouckère (Brouckèreplaats)
Saint-Nicolas (Sint-Niklaas aus Brussels)
A block or two south of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, hidden away behind the Bourse, stands one of the city's oldest churches, Saint-Nicolas, built originally by merchants in the 11th or 12th C. in honor of their patron saint, and from which, as was the custom, they marketed their wares. Inside the church, which has since undergone alteration several times, is an interesting 15th C. Madonna.
Saint-Nicholas faces the rear of the Bourse (1871), the country's leading stock exchange. The main facade, overlooking the Place de la Bourse, has wonderfully rich figurative ornamentation with a crowning figure symbolizing Belgium itself.
Transit: Metro: Stations: Bourse; Bus: 34, 48, 95, 96.
A small multi-media museum located in a 17th century house that offers a general overview of Belgian history and culture.
Map of Brussels Attractions