Top 10 Most Famous Belgium Landmarks Travelers Talk About
Embarrassingly known perhaps best by Westerners for chocolate and waffles, (although there is little information available as to the latter) there is much more to this Western European country than food. In fact, there are over sixty different World Heritage Sites found in the creative, colorful and exciting country; and, while most may think of it as just another boring European territory, it’s actually a dual halved, attraction-packed paradise. Aside from the sweeping countryside and old world charm, there are many Belgium landmarks that attract thousands upon thousands of guests each and every year. The most popular ten of them follow, at the advises of satisfied past travelers.
1. Brussels Royal Palace: Near the city center lies this palace that surprisingly is not used as a residence for the royalty it represents. While Belgian Monarchs reside elsewhere, the Royal Palace serves as a place of political events and regular affairs and is where the King manages audiences and regular day to day activities. Aside from these functional purposes, the palace also provides a place for lodging important heads of state and holding larger events. Regardless of the function, there is little doubt that the palace is one of the most stunning Belgium landmarks, boasting an impressive size, perfectly manicured grounds and excellent examples of neoclassical architecture.
2. Peeing Boy Statue: There is a name for this misbehaving sculpture, situated in the city of Brussels. Although normally referred to by what he is doing, the Manneken Pis doesn’t seem to have a clear cut explanation of just what prompted its most unique design. However, perhaps even more bizarre than the actual statue itself is its ever changing wardrobe throughout the year. The boy is one of the only Belgium landmarks that can make for a different experience each time a guest pays it a visit. The Peeing Boy is dressed up in various ways, with the ensemble changing a few times a week. Some of the most beloved costumes include the judo outfit and the mayor outfit.
3. Atomium: Throughout the world there are numerous points of interest that never necessarily had a great purpose other than to be a genuine highlight at the World’s Fair, and this massive structure that is truly unusual falls into this category. Originally conceived by Andre Waterkeyn and a duo of architects, the over one hundred foot high stainless steel sculpture is an impressive sight. What’s even more fascinating about this perhaps most futuristic of all Belgium landmarks is that it’s familiar symbol is frequently the foundation of copyright claims for like images.
4. Cinquantaiire Arch: Found in the eastern portion of the European Quarter, one of the largest public parks draws locals and tourists alike with its impressive arched structures. The most famous of these Belgium landmarks is the central portion of the park’s U-Shaped structure, which found its present day home in the very early 1900s, serving as a replacement for the previous structures found in the arcade. Although now mostly just common area, there are numerous events held here annually including parades and movies and it’s still sometimes used by the military. The grounds also boast museums and religious buildings as well.
5. Church of Our Lady: This stunning, gothic monument to Queen Louise-Marie, who passed away in the year 1850 can be witnessed in Bruges. The Roman Catholic church was built by her surviving husband Leopold who erected it both to honor her memory as well as hold her mausoleum. The towering structure holds a Royal Crypt that boasts an impressive deceased line up of former rulers including Baudouin of Belgium and Charlotte of Belgium as well. While the burials of so many former monarchs is notable, what truly makes the church one of the most favored Belgium landmarks is its intricate styling and powerful architectural drama, found both inside and out.
6. Carnival of Binche: It’s a bit challenging to leave out the town of Binche when discussing important Belgium landmarks, because even though the town may not be a very well known place all year round, it hosts an incredibly important event each and every year. The town carnival is listed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and that’s a pretty big deal. This three day event begins the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and has been occurring since the 14th century. Wax masks, traditional garb, dancing, musical performances and more all come together to ward off evil spirits.
7. Steen Castle: Antwerp’s oldest building has been hanging around for around eight centuries and is perhaps one of the best examples in the world of the castle appearance that many people are familiar with. Conical towers and stone arches adorn the 13th century building, and surprisingly enough although the complex is quite large, what remains is merely a fraction (less than 20%) of what was originally constructed here in Antwerp. The grounds are also home to another popular sculpture amongst Belgium landmarks, the Lange Wrapper, which was created in 1963. legend has it that the statue’s inspiration could grow to giant size.
8. Antwerp Diamond Centre: Antwerp’s Diamond Quarter is known throughout the world for its city blocks upon city blocks of businesses dedicated to the gemstone industry, primarily diamonds. In fact, while less common now, in previous years a vast majority of the gem cutting and polishing of rough diamonds occurred in Antwerp, here in these historic Belgium landmarks. The actual Diamond Centre, which houses the major mining companies found throughout the world, is located in the famous Quarter and hosts nearly two thousand diamond dealers.
9. Cathedral of Our Lady: This gothic structure found in Antwerp has been standing since the early 1500s, serving as a center for the Roman Catholic religion for hundreds of years. The building replaced a formed chapel that trumped it substantially both in size and grandeur. Interestingly enough while one of the more inspiring of all Belgium landmarks and an important building indeed to the Catholic religion both in Belgium and the world over, the history of this iconic structure is also deeply rooted in music. World famous composers got their starts here, including renowned organists, composers and more.
10. Bouillon Castle: In Bouillon, near the border with France in south is this former fortress and one of the oldest of all Belgium landmarks, a riverside medieval castle. There is some debate as to what was found on the rocky water’s edge before Bouillon, which was first confirmed here before the year 1000, although it’s known that a castle of some sort has existed for some time in its place. It towers near an old bridge and modern cityscape and is one of the more interesting chateaus visited by both first time and repeat guests of this part of Europe.