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A Guide to Brussels Iconic Architecture

Brussels is the architectural capital of Europe, with buildings inspired by five very different artistic movements. So where should you start?

The obvious choice is Brussels’ Grand Place, an arresting central market square and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Described by many as the most beautiful square in the world, the Grand Place rivals Florence’s Piazza della Signoria and others of that ilk.

The showpiece of the Grand Place is the 15th-century Hôtel de Ville, or City Hall, which towers the area at 96 metres high. You’ll need a low angle to fit the whole building in a selfie!
Much of the Grand Place was rebuilt following an attack by French forces in 1695. Nevertheless, the Hôtel de Ville, a hallmark of the Brabantine Gothic style with its intricate carvings and flying buttresses, has stood relatively unscathed — save for some restoration works in the 19th-century. 
Opposite the Hôtel de Ville, you’ll find The King’s House, which houses the City Museum. Topping off this beautiful part of Brussels are several 17th-century residences that reflect Brussels’ more recent Baroque influences.
Beautiful buildings like this are commonplace in Brussels.
Beautiful buildings like this are commonplace in Brussels.

Cheap hotels near Brussels’ Grand Place

There are plenty of cheap hotels near Grand Place Brussels, giving you a convenient base to explore more of the capital’s architecture. The closest ibis is brightly lit and situated just moments away from the district’s many bars and restaurants. Why not discover our whole collection of hotels near Grand Place Brussels for a gateway to the city’s Art Noveau masterpieces?

Art Noveau in Brussels

Art Noveau’s architectural style is characterised by curved glass, plant-like lines and ‘sgraffitto’ — the act of scratching metal to reveal ornate patterns. It’s both reserved and complex, and there are many examples of Art Noveau architecture around Brussels, thanks to the city’s most famous architect. 
Victor Horta spent many years in Brussels, designing townhouses for the upper classes. Four of these — the Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, and Maison & Atelier Horta — are protected by UNESCO. The latter is the architect’s old 19th-century home, now the Horta Museum in Saint-Gilles. From here, it’s a short walk to Hôtel Solvay and Hôtel Tassel.
To save money, look into the Brussels Card (from €27). This gives you free travel and access to the city’s best museums and galleries. That includes The Belgian Comic Strip Museum — a favourite with families and another breathtaking building from Horta.
Neo-classical architecture is a predominant style in the capital.
Neo-classical architecture is a predominant style in the capital.

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert and The Royal Palace of Brussels

No Brussels trip is complete without a visit to the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. This 19th-century neo-renaissance shopping arcade is served by the Gare Centrale (metro), Bourse (tram) and Arenberg (bus) stations. Nicknamed the Umbrella of Brussels, the arcade is lined with luxury stores and chocolate shops. It’s also close to the neoclassical Royal Palace of Brussels and the prestigious Arcade du Cinquantenaire. 
After all this, there’s so much more to see, including the grand Koekelberg Basilica (the largest Art Deco building in the world), the imposing Palais de Justice, and the city’s neoclassical Place Royale square. It’s all waiting to be discovered by foot, bus, tram or metro.

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