Brussels, Belgium is a city shouldering many responsibilities. It is the capital of Belgium, the capital of Flanders, the capital of the French Community of Belgium. It is also the location of many of the European Union’s institutions and is, therefore, considered the capital of the European Union. And, if that weren’t enough, it’s also the political seat of NATO. Although its responsibilities give it an air of importance, Brussels is not to be overlooked as one of the premier vacation cities in Europe.
The city’s name is derived from an old Dutch word, broucsella, which means “marsh home” or “home consisting of one room, in the marsh.” Along with its rather quaint name, Brussels has an equally charming body of local traditions.
One such tradition is the House of Toone, a theater of marionette puppets. It was originally in the Marolles area. However, it presently holds shows that introduce visitors to the local languages and customs in a 1696 estaminet just steps away from the Grand Place.
Another popular tradition in Brussels is the Ommegang, which means “walking around.” The tradition began in the 14th century as a religious processional. It occurs each July and is in memory of Charles V’s Joyous Entry into Brussels in 1549. The parade is very colorful, including floats, giant puppets, and groups dressed in medieval costumes.
Still another interesting custom is the Meyboom or “tree of May” celebration. As part of this ancient festivity, a young beech tree is paraded through the city and planted amongst joyful music and giant puppets.
Brussels also has many cultural attractions and landmarks, such as Grand Place, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, and the Royal Palace of Belgium. Belgium is also the birthplace of many comic characters, like the Smurfs, Largo Winch, Tintin, and Lucky Luke, so there are many murals and frescos throughout the city honoring these characters.
Indeed, the comic spirit of the inhabitants of Brussels is evident in its most famous statue. A quirky little bronze statue called Manneken Pis or Jeanneke Pis. It depicts a little boy urinating into the basin of a fountain.
Visitors to Brussels, Belgium will find a variety of accommodations suited to meet the needs of virtually any tourist. These accommodations include both hotels and holiday apartments.
Examples of hotels in Brussels are:
Alma Grand Palace Hotel: This beautiful hotel is located in the historic center of Brussels very close to the Grand Place and Manneken Pis. Rooms are elegantly decorated and business facilities are available. Tourists may communicate with staff members for tips on traveling and sights within Brussels. Hotel services and amenities include air conditioning with individual controls, satellite television, wireless Internet access in all rooms, facilities for disabled people, and a 24-hour front desk.
Bedford Hotel: This lovely hotel combines the traditional with the modern for a comfortable stay. It’s situated within walking distance of major tourist attractions, like the Grand Place, Royal Palace, and Manneken Pis. Guests can also walk to many museums and shops. Hotel services and amenities include a restaurant, bar, central heating, business center, and 24-hour front desk.
Brussels Hotel: This modern hotel is located on Avenue Louise near the business center of Brussels, the parliament, and the European Commission headquarters. It contains 69 rooms all equipped with an array of conveniences, such as a mini-bar, satellite television, and modem. There are also 16 suites, each with its own kitchenette.
Chaochow Palace: Just 15 minutes from the airport, this hotel is conveniently located whether you’re in Brussels on business or vacation. Hotel services and amenities include room service during certain hours, air conditioning, a bar, multi-lingual staff, 24-hour front desk, and a breakfast buffet.
Examples of holiday apartments in Brussels are:
La Tete dans les Nuages: This gorgeous apartment is decorated in a modern style using the basic colors black, red, and white. It’s a very unique, yet beautiful, apartment with inner walls made from modular blocks on wheels to keep everything you need for living inside the walls and off the floors, freeing up lots of space for relaxing. The location of the apartment is in the center of Brussels in the European quarter near many restaurants and shops. Sleeps five and includes a balcony, air conditioning, and Internet access.
Cloeps: These two apartments are located on a picturesque 17th century farm 25 km from Brussels. They’re a wonderful place to stay if you enjoy the country and would like easy access to the city. Though they’re on a historic farm, the apartments have all the modern conveniences needed for a lengthy holiday stay. Apartments sleep four in two bedrooms and include a barbecue and access to lovely gardens.
Schildknaap: This is a stylish, renovated apartment located in the historic center of Brussels. A two-minute walk will get you to the Grand Palace, shopping areas, the cinema, and the supermarket. It’s also close to a bus stop and the metro for convenient travel to other parts of the city. This cozy one-bedroom apartment sleeps two and includes a balcony, Internet access, and DVD player.
With its quirky but quaint traditions and attractions, Brussels is an excellent place to vacation. You’ll find everything from historic landmarks to colorful events. The vacation accommodations of Brussels are equally varied so that visitors have a choice of hotels or holiday apartments suited to their individual styles.