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Historical charm in Brussels

Brussels, as an old charming town, holds a lot of European history and culture. For a Norwegian it gives you the chance to go through important history of Royalty, architecture, beer, chocolate and of course food. In my last post (please scroll down if you haven’t read it!), I gave you a peek of a gastronomic sensation. This time, I’ll guide you through the city as I experienced it together with my wife. The day before, while I attended a meeting, she found an excellent service: A Hop On, Hop Off tour bus trip:

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But lets start with some history and background:
Brussels was founded in 580 by Saint Grey, the Bishop of Cambrai. According to the legend, he risked his life to cross the Forest of Soignes and built a humble chapel on a small island in the Senne. A century later, that little island had become an important village, called ‘Broeksele’. At the beginning of the 11th century, Brussels was encircled with walls. Towers where raised here and there and seven gates opened on to the country. In the 14th century the town became prosperous owing to the drapery industry. This required buildings of a second encircling wall which gave to Brussels the pentagonal shape that it is still having nowadays.

This bus trip takes us through the whole city and on 13 stops, you get all of it. Its impossible to share all the beauty with you, but I have collected some highlights to share in movees. The first one is from Brussels Universal and International Exhibition in 1958 and the monumental construction called Atomium:

Apart from Manneken Pis the Atomium is Brussels’ best-known landmark. Designed by the architect André Waterkeyn for the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition, the 102m/326ft high steel and aluminum structure represents a molecule of iron magnified 165million times. Four of the nine spheres are now used for the presentation of a show about human life called “Biogenium”. The steel spheres (symbolizing the nine cantons in Belgium) 18 meters in diameter connect via tubes with escalators as long as 35 m, among the longest in Europe.

Then we have The Triumphal Arch:

The transferal of the army’s parade ground Etterbeek allowed the city of the Cinquantenaire to be used for the exhibition of 1880, which organised to commemorate the fiftianth anniversary of Belgium’s independence. The architect Gédéon Bordiau constructed there a palace composed of two wings joined by semicircular colonnade on the model of South Kensington museum in London. The edifice had nevertheless to be interrupted by monumental arch, which was design to show off the prospect of the Rue de la Loi.

There is of course more, much more to show from this charming city, full of history. Let me en this little tour with some random pics from our collection. These and the rest you can see, if you click here:

I hope you enjoyed this as much as my wife and me did during our day. There might be more posts in the coming days – We had one great experience at the fish marked in mind – so stay tuned!

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  1. Fabulous. Hubby says his favorite part of Brussels is the Mussels. Since I have not been I cannot comment.
    Love your picture shows and narration. Wonderful!!!

    Thanks for your compliments Maribeth and I do agree with your husband – its hard to cover it all in one post though :-)

  2. Very interesting and great pictures, Renny. I especially love the one of you and Diane. :-)
    Whatever were you doing at a business named “250 Beers”, though? LOL! ;-)
    A story about the fish market, eh? Hmmm….should be interesting.
    Love and hugs,

    Thanks and your always aware of the details :-)
    LoL: Didn’t I told you it was a combination of business and pleasure!
    Come back – the fish will be served during this weekend.
    Love and hugs back Diane.

  3. the Atomium looks amazing and obviously well ahead of it’s time Renny…
    what a great way to tour the sights of Brussels…..
    A wonderful post on the heritage and history :)

    The Atomium was just breath taking..
    It was really great and I’m glad you liked my summery.

  4. Beautiful sightseeing!! The Triumphal Arc reminds me too much of the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin…

    Thanks Mar, I’m glad you liked it too and I do agree with you…

  5. Pingback: european history
  6. I haven’t been in Brussels in like 10 years but I liked the city when I first visit! I love the little street, the stone houses… and all the comic strips like Astérix and Tintin! ;-)

    Oh, and I remember eating in this great restaurant that had only one huge table where all customer would sit and share the food. Lots of fun!

    Great to hear from another with the same good experience.
    Never been to that restaurant – have to find it and try one day as it sounds great.

  7. Looks like a fabulous place to visit! Have a great weekend! December already!

    It is fabulous and you should go there one day too (maybe we can meet there with Gattina?)
    Wish you a good one too and yea, advent starts on Saturday.

  8. Fantastic! Beautiful place… By the way, in Brussels they tend to use French more often or Flemish (Dutch)?

    I do agree; a wonderful city.
    I’m not that good in language, but I think they use Flemish the most. Anyone else who knows?

  9. oh that was a lovely intor to the history of the city. and the atomium was fascinating. i never would have imagined you could go from one sphere to another.
    now about that chocolate….:D

    Glad you liked it and was fascinated like i was. You could even go by an elevator to the top where there is a restaurant.
    The chocolate – hmmmmm – another great experience :D

  10. Renny,
    I love Bruxelles for many reasons – culture, food, the mix of European population, art, BD capital of the world (BD= Bande dessinee).
    I also realize it’s a symbol of Norwegian nationalism ( NO to EU).
    But, this is in fact true: My first visit to Bruxelles was by boat – a 20 feet day cruiser – in 1965, writing for “Vi Menn”
    Then several times thereafter Business and leisure with friends.

    btw. When we are away. I hope you and D and your “bonus boys” will have a fabulous pre Christmas time – not to forget the local alpine piste. U know what I mean.

    we will prefer hotels with Internet connections while away (not bringing our laptops)
    hugs Anna y el Toro

    Your comments is always enriches the subject Tor – thanks for taking your time and efforts – yes, I do remember the history of your boat cruise through Europe.
    Thanks for your pre Christmas greeting and Diane and me hope you’ll have a wonderful wedding anniversary trip to Argentina. I can’t understand how you can go without your puter though, but that’s me in a nut shell LoL
    Hugs from Diane and me :-(

  11. Beautiful pictures! I wish that I could stop by your site more often, but I have a slow connection (dial-up) and my old computer cannot handle the Flash load…. shoot!
    I wanted to say hello, and say thank you for mentioning my site. Boy, you sure have received many awards :-). I can see why with wonderful posts like this.

    Cheers from Speedy

    Hi Speedy, good to see you. Sorry you can’t see the movees then, but thanks for visit anyway.
    Glad you liked my Award side too and thanks for your contribution.

  12. It sounds so strange when I read about Brussels which became my hometown since I live here now for nearly 49 years ! I have assisted at so many changes. Brussels really was a very beautiful town before they started to destroy all the old houses and mansions around the “Grand Place” and the “Gare Central”. and built all these awful modern high buildings. This was done in the 60th. It is really a shame and for the architects a new word had been created “brusseler” (to brusselate) when a building or an area are especially very ugly. Today they try by all means to save what can be saved but it is far too late. Each time I go to the center in Brussels my heart bleeds when I see what they have done to this city ! The “Triomph Arc”called “Cinquantenaire” was finished in 1905 by Leopold II for the 75th anniverseray of Belgium. The Commun Market where my father worked was located just behind it and I have been in the park a lot when I was 15.
    I didn’t even know that these buses exist and I am sure my friends don’t know it either, lol ! It’s nice to see your own city through a tourist eye !

    BTW Today I take the Cyber Cruise members on a convoy through the Egyptian desert, so if you wish to warm up yourself, hop over !

    Thank you for sharing sharing your point of view as a local Gattina – it really enriches the subject. I do understand you as you have seen the city grow through years and some changes might not have been for the best – let’s hope they’ve learned a lesson.
    I’ll hop over, the soon as I have a minute.

  13. RENNY!
    (off topic)
    if You want it, I can add to you in my list…OK!?
    You are much optimal person!
    kisses from Italy!
    grazie for the the list of AWARD

    I would be very pleased – thanks!
    Thanks for you sweet words and you have a kiss back from Norway :-)

  14. I love the pictures on your blog! :) Keep it up. I will surely visit your blog more often.

    Thanks for your compliments – always great to see you and welcome back any time.

  15. Wheee…. Brussels! What beautiful architecture! And such a lovely place for a couple!

    Yea, some of the buildings are just breath taking. Great place for a honeymoon you know:-)

  16. Yay. Your entry brought back the memories of my 2 weeks visit to Brussels in 2005.
    Lovely lovely city. I actually rate it as no.3 of my top 10 favorite cities.

    Anyway, I tagged you Renny.Haha.

    Glad I could refresh your memories then. So which cities are 1 and two then?
    Thanks for tagging me – that was sweet of you :-)

  17. btw – how come your site is reffering to Singapore?

    I don’t have a clue Tor?
    Btw: Hope you are safely landed in South America now!

  18. Hi its AWSOME !to show some about Brussels , with an english bus ha!

    FIRST ,Have a good weekend!
    When you like i I showed some more ( 3post’s)about Paris, you’re welcome to visit my blog:)

    It was really a nice trip yea.
    Wish you a good one too!
    I’ll pop over as soon as I have the time – thanks.

  19. Great post, lovely pictures! Brussels is one of my fave cities and it always amazes me that people don’t think highly of it. It’s a real gem.

    Thanks – its actually become one of my fave too:-)

  20. Gorgeous shots renny! Brussels is a lovely city indeed!

    have a great sunday renny! take care

    Glad you liked them and there are more to com in the next post.
    Wish you a great one too.

  21. Seems like there is more to Brussels than chocolates! ;-) Joking, of course. For a history buff like me, there is so much in Europe that I could spend all my vacations there and still have places to cover, I guess.

    There is, but their chocolate is one of the best ;-)
    I’m glad you liked what I provided about the history and I do hope you’ll visit Europe again and then don’t forget the Nordic countries.

  22. I’ve referred to Wikipedia, and it says that the population of Brussels uses French the most (up to 80%) while the remaining consists mainly of Flemish/Dutch speakers. Brussels is the only offiically bilingual city in the country. :)

    Thanks for the efforts and for taking your time to enlighten us Kyh. You know I love history, backgrounds and details, so this was a great add.

  23. You know more about Brussels than I do. If we are both in Belgium at the same time I will ask you to be my guide! ;-)

    What a compliment from a local! I think we should guide each other ;-)

  24. Thanks for sharing y’alls trip! As usual your tour is very informative on places I’d love to see. I LOVE the chocolate castle!!

    Your welcome and you know I love to share these kind of adventures. Glad you learned something in this post too – thats always my intention you know.

  25. This all brings back so many memories: the architecture, the chocolate, the lace, the beers:) I was there for work but remarkably we must have seen and done more than I thought.

    Glad you have experienced it a while a good to then and it seams like we both have good taste:-)

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