Brussels medieval city centre is often called the hub of European culture, partly due to its position as head of the European Union and headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As an Alpha global city impacting international economics, finance and trade, it’s easy to overlook Brussels’s vibrant neighbourhoods, local arts and entertainment scene, foodie havens and craft-beer hideaways.
The main square in Brussels city centre, Grand Place unquestionably lives up to its reputation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With ornate architecture and gabled guild houses surrounded by cathedrals and museums, the area boasts the prestigious Museum of the City of Brussels, the Museum of the Belgian Brewers and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. Beer and chocolate production define the city on a more colloquial level, with tasting tours that include the historic Royal Galleries chocolate shops. Lively cafes, boutiques and antique shops bubble with energy along Rue Antoine Dansaert, Place Saint Catherine and the pedestrian strip of Rue Nueve.
Brussels Central serves as the main railway and metro station in Brussels, giving easy access to all points in the city centre, as well as to the entire Brussels-Capital Region and the Brussels Airport, about 12 kilometres from downtown. Tourists can hit all the major attractions in Brussels using the double-decker Hop-on Hop-off buses, with more than 21 stops and flexible passes. A low-cost Brussels Card gives free admission to at least 30 attractions and discounts for guided sightseeing tours.
Always in the political spotlight, the city centre of Brussels hosted the birth of the Belgian Labour Party in 1885 at Grand Place. Town Hall operated as a makeshift hospital during World War I, and the occupying German army raised its flag at Town Hall on August 20, 1914. The city centre is now considered a true international “melting pot” and multicultural bastion of modern Europe.