Lonely Planet needs no introduction. The English version of the Guide du Routard has reached all corners of the globe since 1972 with the motif that “ Everything you want to do, it’s for you to decide to actually leave and do it. That’s always the hardest part.” What we’re talking about today is not at all a question of travelling far away, rather just a few metro stops down. Here is the selection found in Brussels included in 1000 things to see in the world according to Lonely Planet
In general when people think of Brussels, the Atomium, the Manneken Pis, comic strips and chocolate comes to mind. The Atomium and its unique representation of the iron molecule naturally found a spot in the category of the most extravagant structures.
Contrary to this gigantic 9-sphered structure, the Manneken Pis, whose small size (61 cm) often surprises tourists, was included in the section dedicated to the most odd monuments. This “petit Julien” is so popular that it was chosen in a second category as well, for “fountains unlike any other”… It is true, a little boy peeing is indeed a fountain unlike any other. What would other peeing statues like Jeanneke and Zinneke say? In Brussels, masterpieces are not always hidden behind museum doors. The comic book tour where you can see the frescos on buildings is the best representation of these exposed works of art. It seems Lonely Planet took note.
The reputation of Belgian chocolate has been firmly established. To represent it well, the Maison des Maitres Chocolatiers Belges was included amongst the most gourmet places on the planet. Between the Tsukiji fish market and the Instanbul and Roquefort spice bazaar, our master chocolate shops stick out.
Caps off to architecture
In an era where shopping centers seem to all look the same, the most beautiful shopping galleries in the world do not follow suit: in the guide, the Saint-Hubert Royal Galleries is ranked next to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, as well as the galleries at the Grand Central Terminal in New York and the Beyoglu district in Istanbul.
Art-Nouveau, its contours and floral or geometric motifs, was born in the city of Brussels. Amongst its strict selection, the authors of Lonely Planet owed it to themselves to take a glimpse at the Belgian capital. And what a glimpse it is! Hotel Tassel is considered the first 100% Art-Nouveau structure in the world. Designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2000, this idea by the scientist Emile Tassel is the work of a single man: Victor Horta, whose attention to detail even extended to a personal design of the door handles. Unfortunately, this hotel is rarely opened for visits. Hôtel van Eetvelde, Hôtel Solvay and the Horta Museum and workshop were under the same UNESCO application as Hotel Tassel.
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. The 5th largest church in the world is found in Brussels. Initially intended to be a neo-Gothic style, the Koekelberg Basilica was finished off with a touch of Art Deco. And this is the section where the Basilica is found in Lonely. Amongst 10 other classics of Art Deco, this religious structure rubs elbows with the Miami Biltmore Hotel, the Chrysler Building in New York and the Regal Cinema in Bombay. During visits to Belgium, the popes generally always pay a visit to Koekelberg for a prayer. Sometimes we forget, with all the hype from the Atomium and the arcs of the Cinquantenaire, that the Basilica’s dome also makes for a beautiful panorama view of the capital.
And finally, what would Brussels be without its multitude of events that we pick out especially for you every week?
The close readers of Lonely Planet will remember the Waiters' Race from the Cinquantenaire and, with less alcohol but just as fun, the Flowercarpet. If you must wait until August 2014 to admire the next begonia arrangement at the Grand Place, the city of Brussels and the Floralies of Ghent are joining forces to organize another floral event called Floraliëntime.
Ref: 1000 ultimate sights on Amazon