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About Me:I'm a graduate student studying International Criminal Law and first started writing for King's News almost 4 years ago! My hobbies include reading, travelling and charity work. I cover many categories but my favourite articles to write are about mysteries of the ancient world, interesting places to visit, the Italian language and animals!
When I think about my brief weekend in Brussels I distinctively remember the deliciously sweet aroma of fresh waffles, the breath-taking view of the Grand Place from my hotel window and of course the infamous Manneken Pis.
Brussels is both the capital and the largest city in Belgium with a population of approximately 1.8milion. In 1830, when the Kingdom of Belgium was founded, Brussels was largely a Dutch-speaking city yet today it has been transformed into a multilingual city with French as its main language. Brussels truly caters to the needs of any tourist, hosting a mixture of historical monuments, stunning views and fun activities waiting to be discovered. The choice of museums ranges from historical, such as the Museum of the City of Brussels - which narrates the history of Brussels through painting, tapestries, photos and sculptures – to the fun Comic Strips Museum where you can meet Tintin and the Smurfs!
Art resonates throughout the city but is not limited to architectural wonders and traditional tapestry shops; indeed the city is decorated in beautiful street art. Besides creative wall paintings, the city is home to a very odd sculpture that has captured the heart of both tourists and residents in Brussels: Manneken Pis. Manneken Pis (which means ‘little man pee’ in Dutch) is a statue located near the Grand Place square of a young boy peeing. At first I was very confused about the frenzy over such a small statue, measuring only 24inches, but the city adores him as he features in museums and shops – you can even find little chocolates shaped like Manneken Pis! The city is filled with different legends about who the young boy really is but all agree that Manneken Pis is a must see in Brussels!
Brussels is the capital of the European Union in Brussels and as such has hosted innumerous historical meetings and negotiations which have resulted in ground-breaking treaties such as the Brussels Pact which was signed in 1948 and assured a mutual defence agreement between Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, France and the UK. I learnt an incredible amount of history on Belgium’s foreign relations at the Parliamentarium, the European Parliament’s visiting centre. As I entered the conference room, I became fully immersed in parliamentary affairs as projections of debates within the European Parliament were projected on the wall and the wise words of speeches resonated throughout the room. It was truly a fun way to learn more about how the EU works and how the decisions which emerge effect the UK.
Besides the divine food and spectacular views, I felt like the people truly made Brussels such a vibrant city! Everyone was extremely kind, smiley and helpful in giving directions. Another must-see is the Atomium, a museum which is 102m tall. It features nine 18m diameter stainless steel spheres which are linked together by tubes forming a unit cell of an iron crystal which has been magnified 165 billion times. Right next to the Atomium you’ll find mini-Europe (which was unfortunately closed for renovation when I visited). As you walk through the park you can travel around Europe and visit the most famous monuments of European nations in just a few hours! The park has action models of trains, cable cars and even Mount Vesuvius! Throughout the city it is impossible not to notice the strong love for Europe, which makes Brussels the perfect heart of the EU. It is a city which left me amazed and I hope to return to Brussels someday.
Images: author's own.