Greater Brussels consists of 19 municipalities. On the first half of our sightseeing bus tour we toured the central portion and the European Quarter of the City of Brussels plus the municipality of Ixelles. For the second half of the tour we headed west and northwest to visit the Laeken neighborhood and the municipalities of Koekelberg, Molenbeek-Saint Jean, Jette and Ganshoren.
From the Central Station we headed west down the hill past the Cathedral and the Royal St Hubert Gallery and toward our hotel on Blvd Anspach . Then we turned north to tour the northwestern suburbs.
Brussels was the largest city we visited on our five-country vacation (though metropolitan Cologne is much larger than metropolitan Brussels). It was also the smoggiest and the most traffic-congested. I guess all of those facts go together. I think the tour was supposed to take about an hour and a half but because of the end-of-the-day commuter traffic it was close to two hours. Somewhere near the Brussels-Charleroi Canal it took us five minutes to get by one busy intersection that had no signals.
Here are some of the photos I took on this portion of the tour.
Leaving Central Station.
Passing Rue Getry (Getrystraat), one of the pedestrian streets leading up from Blvd Anspach. That’s Sainte Catherine Church in the background. The Drug Opera is a three-story pub and restaurant in a building that used to be a drug store and is a block away from the Opera House.
The Start People building on Blvd Anspach.
Yes, they drink coke in Brussels. This building stands at the “Y” where Blvd Anspach ends at Place du Brouckere and is near our hotel.
I think we turned this corner on two wheels!
Bride and Groom clothing store on Blvd Adolphe Max.
The Sheraton Hotel (left) on Place Rogier.
Blvd Leopold II leads to the Sacred Heart Basilica. We looped around Laeken, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Jette and Ganshoren and ended up back at Blvd Leopold II on our return to central Brussels.
Same view but with my camera held vertically.
Still on Blvd Leopold II.
The European Quarter isn’t the only district in Brussels where you will see skyscrapers.
We passed this building on Blvd Simon Boliver in the business district (near Gare du Nord / Noordstation).
The Church of Our Lady of Lakean (Eglise Notre-Dame de Lakean / Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk vanvLeaken) stands proudly at the end of Avenue de la Reine.
I didn’t get a good shot of the Royal Palace (too many trees) but managed to shoot a lion at the palace gates.
A minute later we turned around and I managed to get both lions this time.
Leopold I Monument, mausoleum opposite the Royal Palace. Members of the Royal Family are buried here.
The Atomium was built for Expo ’58, the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels.
It took 15 minutes to drive from the Atomium in Lakean through Jette (where the artist Rene Magritte lived for 24 years) to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg. The restaurant on the right is in Ganshoren.
The National Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Basilique Nationale du Sacre-Coeur / Nationale Basiliek van het Heilig-Hart) is the largest Art Deco structure in the world and the fifth largest church in the world.
Hogeschool Universteit-Brussel (HUBrussel) is a Flemish Catholic university. Economics and Business classes are held in English and all other courses are in Dutch.
These buildings are across the street from the Godiva Chocolate factory.
Zeehaven Monument on Place Sainctelette (Saincteletteplein)where Blvd Leopold II meets the canal.
This statue is guarding the canal.
Le Petit Chateau, once an army barracks, is now the Refugee Center for people seeking asylum in Belgium.
A fabric shop on the Rue du Chien Vert.
The Brussels-Charleroi Canal.
Approaching Place de la Bourse (Beursplein) from the south.
Close-up of the Brussels Stock Exchange (Bourse de Bruxelels / Beurs van Brussel) tympanum.
- The steps of The Bourse — a favorite spot for people-watching.
My last shot: design on a building next to the Central Station.
This was our last full day in Belgium. The next day we took the train back to Amsterdam and flew home the following morning.