Sunday, February 24, 2013

A walk around the EU neighbourhood - Brussels

Brussels is quite a puzzling city and not only linguistically with everything double written in French and Dutch. It is the capital of Belgium and the unofficial capital of Europe and as such one might expect to find a beautifully shiny new city embedded in historical neighbourhoods and buildings. And it is indeed so, only that the mix of old and new has not always been tastefully done, the city is gritty and grey and the only thing that shines are the buildings of the European institutions. The EU area is made of many buildings of steel and glass which look all the same, which mane people consider to be terribly ugly. However, if you take a closer look there are a couple of beautiful places to be enjoyed and you might even realize that some of those buildings aren't actually that ugly. Well, at least I thought so after having spent some nice hours strolling around the European district.

I've been to Brussels the last two weekends and as I already know most parts of the city, at least most of the touristic parts, I decided to get to know better the area surround the EU area and I discovered (and rediscovered) some beautiful places sometimes neglected by tourists. I started walking along many streets lined with similar buildings and among them, the European Parliament and the Berlaymont building, home to the European Commission, really stand out. I also found a nice street (Rue Archimede, I think) full of international cafés and pubs. Place Jourdan and Place Luxembourg are also fine options to have a beer or some frites. 

European Parliament

Berlaymont building

Later, I walked around Parc Leopold, a tiny park just behind the European Parliament with a small lake in the middle. It is a nice place to rest for a while if it's not terribly cold but the Cinquantenaire Parc, which is 5 minutes away is a more beautiful option. It was designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the indepedence of Belgium and it has some charming gardens and a triumphal arch at the end, shlightly similar to Paris' own Arc de Triomphe. The arch lies in the middle of two big halls which host the Museum of Militar History and the Royal Art Museum. 

Parc Leopold

Parc du Cinquantenaire

A touristic tour of Brussels would normally end here, however I kept walking along the Avenue Tervuren and I was delighted to discover so many beautiful Art Nouveau buildings, most of them housing embassies or permanent missions for the European Union. The avenue is really long but if you appreaciate architecture as much as I do it is really worth it to walk from the Cinquantenaire Parc to the next metro station looking upwards to admire the so many beautiful ornated balconies and windows that decorate many impressive villas along Avenue Tervuren.

Avenue de Tervuren / Tervurenlaan

And that was the end to my pleasant walk. As you might notice the photos are a mix and match from different trips to Brussels. The snowy ones were taken today as I woke up this morning to find Brussels totally covered in snow and I have to say that I have never found Brussels more beautiful than it was today painted in white. Maybe I'm obsessed with snow!


  1. Nunca he estado en Bruselas pero por las fotos que nos muestras y todo lo que nos cuentas creo que me gustaría darme un paseíto tranquilo (como tú dices)por sus calles. Tiene unos edificios preciosos:Bsinss,wpa:)

  2. Amazing place, so beautiful. I hope to see it one day!! xx

  3. It's gorgeous to see Brussels in winter. That's a great thing you're doing, discovering non-touristy places and finding beauty over there. Have a lovely week!

  4. Awesome blog! Great photos!! It you want to follow each other visit my blog and let me know ;)

  5. the architecture is very pretty. simple, but the details truly bring it out. you took great pictures over a period of time irene. thanks for the birthday wishes today :)

  6. So pretty in white. I was only in Brussels for a night and due to my limited time, I didn't get to explore much and I did not like it as it was dull and not particularly attractive.
    But now I'm seeing a different side, the unexplored parts of Brussels which looks gorgeous. Thank you.

  7. La verdad es que es muy distinta de la Bruselas que recuerdo, solo la sede de la unión europea y esos edificios de cristal y acero que nombras.
    No vi ni los dos parques ni la avenida de Tervureen que parece preciosa, la verdad es que cada vez que paso por aqui me dan ganas de darle una segunda oportunidad a Bruselas, a mi tambien me gusta mucho la arquitectura aunque reconozco que tiro mas a la moderna.
    Besito Irene y precioso post, aunque da frio solo de verlo,
    Buena semana

  8. I love the pictures!!! Did you have fun in Brussels? I would love to go and explore the neighborhoods =P

    The Austrian Rose


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