The cosmopolitan capital of Belgium is a bilingual city where both French and Dutch are official languages. All of the streets have two names; for example, the main square is called both La Grand-Place and de Grote Markt. The Grote Markt contains an array of spectacular Gothic buildings, including the 15th-century Brussels City Hall, which towers 315 feet above the square and is capped by a 12-foot statue of St. Michael. Elsewhere, you will find art nouveau museums and art deco residences. Brussels is also a European gastronomic capital. Street fare includes moules frites, fresh waffles, handcrafted chocolate and artisanal beer.
Squares are common enough in European cities, but La Grand-Place is a standout. I love the guild houses, which, during the evenings of April to September, are washed with colored lights. Christmas is especially lovely with a huge tree and crèche.
The city takes pride in its collection of art nouveau structures. Locally, the foremost proponent was architect Victor Horta, and admirers of the style will find a visit to the Horta Museum (25 Rue Américaine) rewarding.
Memorable bars in which to try local beers include Au Bon Vieux Temps (Impasse Saint-Nicolas 8/4), which has an extraordinary gothic interior, and the lively A l’Imaige Nostre-Dame (Rue du Marché aux Herbes 8), with wood beams and stained-glass windows.
Some of Brussels’ most interesting fashion can be found along Rue Antoine Dansaert between Rue des Poissonniers and the Place du Nouveau Marché aux Grains.
Art & Design Museum
ADAM (Place de Belgique), the Art and Design Atomium Museum, opened in 2015. Its colorful permanent collection of plastic objects is housed in the unique “Plasticarium.”