Day 171: Exploring BrusselsAugust 4, 2017 in Belgium
Another busy day, this time exploring the World Heritage sites in Brussels! Up and out fairly early, as we wanted to check out La Grand-Place, the main central square in the old town before it filled up with tourists.
So we walked into town, stopping en route at the Manneken-Pis, the fountain statue of a little boy pissing that is inexplicably famous. I know most people are surprised at how small the Mona Lisa is, but this is another thing entirely - it's actually about the size of a garden gnome. I really have no idea why it's famous, since phallic/crude fountain sculptures aren't exactly uncommon in Europe.
Anyway. We made it to the Grand Place around 9:30am, which was fairly early but not quite early enough as quite a few people were around already. Particularly people running free walking tours, with their giant colourful umbrellas. Could be worse I guess, could be surrounded by cruise ship passengers!
The Grand Place is the old market square of Brussels, and is a WHS in its own right. The original market from the 11th century was burned down by French invaders in 1690, and over the next 10 years architects and tradesmen rebuilt the buildings in grand style. Because the entire project was being overseen by the city's aldermen, the buildings are all very complementary, and because the merchant guilds were all competing to build the nicest facades, they're all very impressive too.
But as nice as it is, it's ultimately just a large town square. We filmed each of the four directions, said some words, picked out some nice details and then headed on.
Next up we hopped on a tram to the rich north-east of Brussels to visit another world heritage site: Stoclet Palace. This is a large semi-art deco mansion building on the outskirts of Brussels, constructed in the 1910s. Money was no object for the financier, a wealthy banker and art collector, so it was constructed in the most lavish styles and with exquisite finishings inside. Of course, it's still in private hands (the same family no less), so we just filmed it from the outside. Back on the tram!
Hopped off the tram, heading towards the Horta Museum we'd seen the outside of yesterday, and stumbled across the headquarters of the European Commission. Couldn't go inside, obviously, but interesting to see and take a few photographs of. This isn't the parliament building though, that's in a different part of the city.
Grabbed some lunch and then headed to the Museum. I wasn't feeling particularly up for it, but I'm really glad we went as it was fantastic. The house was furnished basically as Horta had left it in the 1930s, and it looked fantastic. Obviously the art nouveau style looks quite dated now, but it really inspired feelings of the belle epoque and the optimism of the early 20th century. Spent a couple of hours in here, though sadly no photos permitted.
Back to the hotel fairly early where we spent some time editing videos and entertaining a lonely dog! Ate dinner out on the terrace of a nice local restaurant, still no rain today though very overcast sadly! Had a very delicious Belgian beef stew - very thick gravy made with dark beer, yum.Read more