View the Grand-Place for the First Time (Brussels)
There's nothing quite like strolling out of one of its unremarkable side streets onto the historic Grand-Place. You'll never forget your first look at this timeless cobbled square, surrounded by gabled guild houses and the Gothic tracery of the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) and the Maison du Roi (King's House).
Shoot Manneken-Pis (Brussels)
We mean with a camera, of course. The centuries-old fountain-statue of a small boy making water with a "what-a-clever-boy-am-I" look on his face, has become a much-loved symbol of the city, and a metaphor for its brand of irreverent humor. Nobody can resist this statue of a gleefully tinkling little boy. Why should you be any different?
Admire Art Nouveau (Brussels)
Brussels considers itself the world capital of Art Nouveau, and local architect Victor Horta (1861-1947) was its foremost exponent. You can view the master's colorful, sinuous style at his former home, now the Horta Museum, and in buildings around the city.
Visit the Comic-Strip Museum (Brussels)
Cast aside any thoughts of Superman and Batman. Belgian comic-strip art is an altogether more sophisticated product, though its most famous creation, Hergé's Tintin, proves it can also be fun.
Stand Under the Seven Giant Spheres of the Atomium (Brussels)
And hope that none of the giant spheres of this colossal representation of an iron atom will fall on your head. Next to this monstrous model, 165 billion times bigger than the real thing, you'll be the one who feels like a microscopic particle.
Stroll Around Europe (Brussels)
Mini-Europe, that is. This collection of emblematic buildings from the European Union's member nations includes the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Big Ben, the Acropolis, the Arc de Triomphe, the Brandenburg Gate, and more, all in beautifully rendered 1:25-scale detail.
Take a Hike (Brussels)
Nowhere has Brussels more green than in the Forêt de Soignes, which stretches from the Bois de la Cambre to Waterloo. This is a great place to escape maddening crowds and fuming traffic.
Enjoying Opera at La Monnaie (Brussels)
Belgium's 1830 war of independence broke out during a performance at this graceful neoclassical theater -- so you never can tell what an evening at the opera has in store.
Refight the Battle of Waterloo (Brussels)
They actually do "refight" the great 1815 battle in a reenactment every 5 years on its anniversary (the next will be in June 2005). Otherwise, settle for climbing the Lion Mound on the battlefield south of Brussels for a magnificent view over this theater of war.
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