Markt & Belfry
Once the commercial centre of Bruges, Markt has been home to a weekly market going back as far as the 10th century. Once ringed by banks and guild houses the square now has a variety of restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from and makes for a greet meeting point. The Belfry tower is undoubtedly the most prominent feature of Markt. This 83 meter high tower is open to the public, allowing you to climb to the top for a great view of the city. However only small groups are admitted at a time.
Some describe Bruges as the ‘Venice of the North’ and it’s not difficult to see why. The network of canals offers a different way to experience the city. Boat tours leave from a number of different locations and are relatively inexpensive. They last about 30-35 minutes and often include some unique insights and stories from the driver.
This happens to be the only museum in the world that is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Why? This was once the Plantin-Moretus printing company, one of the pioneering world’s printing companies, and houses two of the world’s oldest printing presses. It also includes the Plantin family’s Grand Library, full of rare old books and maps.
Located near at Antwerp’s historical centre is Groenplaats. Similar to Markt in Bruges this is square is often buzzing with activity from the cafes and restaurants which surround it. Once again this acts as a great place to start your trip around the city. From here you can head over to the Cathedral of Our Lady, another UNESCO heritage site. Groenplaats is also close to the Rubens House, the former home of famous painter, Peter Paul Rubens. The house is now a museum featuring some of his works and the works of his pupils.
Belgium certainly has form when it comes to fine town squares. The Grand Place is near the centre of Brussels and features stunning architecture on its six old guild halls and the 15th century town hall. Brussels Town Hall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains examples of 16th, 17th and 18th century tapestries among other historic artifacts.
For one of Brussels’ more modern iconic monuments look no further than Atomium. The Atomium is both a sculpture and a building allowing visitors to take a surrealistic walk through its tubes and spheres, as well as giving 360 degree views over Brussels.
You might already know that Brussels is home to the European Parliament…but did you know that it also has a Mini-Europe? Not far from Atomium you’ll find this miniature version of the continent complete with mini Eiffel Tower, mini Big Ben, mini Colosseum…even a mini TGV!
Parlementarium offers a unique way to learn about the European Parliament in a surprisingly fun way. With interactive tools, floor maps and exhibits you can learn all about how the Parliament and the EU impacts your life as well as the lives of half a billion people. There’s fun for all ages from school children to adults so it’s a great way to spend a few hours of your trip.