It’s been a long day here in Brussels…
We started here, at the Royal Library of Belgium. Yes, there is still a Belgian royal family, and this public library marks the edge of where all their official buildings are (there’s almost like a little “royal neighborhood” type of thing going on here). This picture is obviously just the courtyard and view from the library towards the non-royal part of the city.
On the other side, you come out into what looks like just another neighborhood, albeit a fairly neat looking one.
You continue up the hill to see this awesome looking art (?) museum…
And then you suddenly find yourself in the Royal Park! This large park – it looks like it takes up maybe 4 or 5 city blocks on our map – connects the royal buildings such as the palace to the modern government buildings like the Parliament.
The park itself isn’t that ridiculously fancy. Honestly it just feels like someone picked up a chunk of forest, added a few paths, some benches, and a couple of fountains, and then plopped the whole thing into the middle of Brussels. But that makes it a pretty cool place in our books!
After wandering around the government distract for a bit, we headed over to see the cathedral. It’s dedicated to two different saints, Saint Micheal and Saint Gudule.
This is Saint Gudule, who is associated with young people and I believe education as well (the explanation given wasn’t entirely clear if that was what she was a saint of or if she just did a lot of educational work during her life).
The thing that struck us the most here though was the stained glass. They had a lot of windows in several different styles, since of which looked extremely old indeed. However, not a lot is known about the ages of most if the windows. This one in the picture though is known to date back to the 1500s!
Many of the oldest looking windows were protected by fencing like this, but hopefully you can still see the difference in style!
There were also a lot of statues inside, which helped emphasize the height of the gothic arches. The nave was lined with statues of various saints, complete with little plaques underneath saying which saint it was and giving a quote or two about them in both French and Flemish.
After all that walking (none of that was in the same neighborhood or on a reasonable subway line from each other!) we decided to relax with a bit of souvenir shopping. That had to include sampling some of Belgium’s most famous specialty products, including chocolate! They produce some of the best chocolate in the entire world here and there are specialty shops on nearly every street.
And it’s not just normal pieces of chocolate either…check out these amazing chocolate tools we saw! Some of them were so impressive, you almost didn’t want to eat them (almost…)
Our comments winner today is…Zoe E! Cheats Zoe! And congrats to Erin and Vanessa as well, really – you all are complete rock stars with your consistent daily comments! Everyone else, keep on chiming in – the more voices we hear, the better this conversation will be!