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Streets and Squares in Brussels

Since most activity in a city takes place in its streets and on its squares, it's not a bad idea to plan your sightseeing tour according to which are worth seeing the most. In Brussels, you can't omit the Grand Place, as it’s considered the most splendid market square in Europe and located in the centre of the Old Town. In the Old Town, you'll also find the small and charming Rue des Bouchers (Vleeshouwersstrate), where in the Middle Ages predominantly meat was sold, but today the street is filled with elegant restaurants and cafes. If, however, you'd rather experience the atmosphere of a busy market, you can go to Boulevard du Midi, where the stalls of Brussels' largest food market, Marche du Midi, offer virtually all kinds of food products from all over the world.


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Rue des Bouchers (Vleeshouwersstrate)
Address: Rue des Bouchers (Vleeshouwersstrate)
 

The picturesque Rue des Bouchers (Butcher's Street) is located close to the Grand-Place, set in the very heart of Brussels' old town. Its name derives from Medieval times, when this avenue was inhabited by pork slaughterers and sausage merchants. As legend has it, during the Middle Ages the street was the only place to find bouc (goat) and mutton, whereas only the Grand Boucherie, set behind the Maison du Roi, was permitted to sell beef. Today, the butcher's stalls are replaced by elegant cafes and restaurants specialising in gourmet delicacies. Apart from its culinary attractions, Rue des Bouchers is known for its stepped gables and curls, most of which date from the 17th Century. The street also boasts the Musée de la Serrurerie, which showcases locks gathered by Guillaume Dehaen, the former treasurer of the Ilot Sacré quarter. Rue des Bouchers was made particularly famous in the 1920's, thanks to the Flemish singer, Jean de Baets, who wrote the song 'In de rue des Bouchers'. The street is also popular because of its own feminine version of the small 1619 bronze statue Manneken Pis (Peeing Boy), an emblem of Brussels. At the end of the Impasse de la Fidélit stands a statue of Jeanneke Pis, a larger and more realistic equivalent of its famous original. The sculpture was created in 1985 after the initiative of the Ilot Sacré merchants to support charity work.
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Petite Rue des Bouchers
Address: Petite Rue des Bouchers
 

The Petite Rue des Bouchers, perpendiculaar to the larger Rue des Bouchers, was also known under the names Crantje Straetje (Tap Street) and Rue du Cornet. In the beginning of the 19th Century, many butchers settled in this street after the original market area, Marché aux Tripes, was transformed into the herbs market, Marché aux Herbes. The street still boasts some 12 mansions dating back to the 17th and 18th Century. During the Belle Époque, the street was packed with numerous small music halls, such as the famous jazz club La Rose Noire, where the famous Belgian singer, Jacques Brel, received recognition in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the club had to close its doors and today is occupied by restaurant Les Armes de Bruxelles. Today, one of the most visited attractions of the picturesque Petite Rue des Bouchers is the Theatre de Marionnettes de Toone, situated at the end of the Impasse Schuddeveld. The theatre was created in 1966 by José Géal, the successor of the great Ancient Toone, the 'father of the puppet show'.
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Rue des Dominicains (Predikherenstraat)
Address: Rue des Dominicains (Predikherenstraat)
 

As the name suggests, Rue des Dominicains is laid out on the site of the Dominicans' monastery. Initially, the street was named Rue de l'Ecuyer until the beginning of the 18th Century. After the demolition of the convent in 1797, the French changed its name to Rue de la Démolition, and in 1815 it was officially named Rue des Dominicains, in order to commemorate the monks. This small street has always been a lively, mercantile alley packed with fashionable boutiques and restaurants. A popular venue in the street is Restaurant Vincent, with its walls covered with ceramics dating back to 1913.
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Rue de la Fourche (Predikherenstraat )
Address: Rue de la Fourche (Predikherenstraat )
 

The narrow Rue de la Fourche originates from 1368 when it was called Grijpstraete (grijp meaning 'fork' in Flemish), after the heraldic griffin seen on ancient coins. The street is situated in the heart of the fashionable Ilot Sacré quarter and attracts tourists with its cosy cafes, restaurants and small hotels. The famous cafe A l'Aigle d'Or once resided here, where the second version of the Belgian national anthem 'La Brabançonn' was created, composed by the opera singer François Van Campenhout on September 28, 1830.
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Rue Grétry (Grétrystraat)
Address: Rue Grétry (Grétrystraat)
 

The narrow street Rue Grétry, edged with beautiful 19th-century mansions, was laid out in 1873 on the site of two old streets: Rue de la Coupe and Rue aux Suifs. Originally, Copstraet was a passage which started from the ancient Marché aux Poulets (chicken market) and led north to Boulevard Anspach. In turn, Rue aux Suifs (Tallow's Street) was built on the ruins of the old Madelonnettes' convent, situated between Rue des Fripiers (Clothes Dealers' Street) and Rue de la Fourche, where also the former square Marché aux Veaux et Volailles (veal and poultry market) was located, which changed its name in 1835 to Marché aux Peaux (leather market). The Rue Grétry, under the great portal of Palais d'Eté, hosted the most popular entertainment venue in Brussels, Le Pôle Nord. The north wing of this large market area was converted into an ice rink, where cabaret festivals were held each spring, with musical revues. However, today, there is a car park there.
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Place Royale (Koudenberg)
Address: Place Royale (Koudenberg)
 

The symmetrical square Place Royal was constructed in a typical Viennese Neo-Classical style by Austrian aristocrats in the core of the Upper Town, which became Brussels' centre of power in the 18th Century. In the heart of the square stands the equestrian statue of Godefroid de Bouillon, the legendary crusader and king of Jerusalem. The square boasts underground digs on the former site of the 11th-century residence of the dukes of Brabant. The Baliënplein square was once in front of the palace, where markets, festivities, and even executions took place. Place Royale was also a favourite sitting spot of local nobles, who built their elegant mansions and houses in the area. The square was once surrounded by a beautiful garden, which today is known as Royal Park. The castle here served as the residence of the Austrian governors until February 3, 1731, when most of it burned down. The ruins of the palace have been excavated, showcasing the main hall, Aula Magna, with its collection of tapestries, paintings and art objects. The square also boasts the church of St-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg, which was designed after an ancient Greek temple. During the French Revolution, the church was converted into the Temple of Reason for a short time. Another highlight of Place Royale is the 1900 Art Nouveau-style building on the north-west corner, which hosted the department store, Old England Store. Today, the store is home to the Musée des Instruments de Musiques (Museum of Musical Instruments), which displays an exhibition of ancient mandolins, lutes and bagpipes. Other notables of Place Royale include the Hôtel Ravenstein, which is the only surviving mansion from the 15th Century, and the 1920 Art Deco-style concert hall Palais des Beaux-Arts, designed by Victor Horta, the famous Belgian architect who is said to be the first to introduce the Decorative Arts to architecture.
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Avenue Louise (Luizalaan)
Address: Avenue Louise (Luizalaan)
  Phone: +32 2 513 8940
 

Avenue Louise, constructed in 1847, is one of the most significant thoroughfares in Brussels, located in the most exclusive shopping district. The avenue is sometimes referred to as Brussels' equivalent to Champs-Elysées in Paris and New York's Fifth Avenue. Bordered by chestnut trees, it led directly to the popular green area of the Bois de la Cambre. The street was named to honour King Leopold II's daughter, Princess Louise-Marie. Today, Avenue Louise is home to numerous upmarket shops, exclusive restaurants and institutions. Apart from luxurious boutiques by such designers as Cartier, Armani and Chanel, the avenue boasts the scenic Jardin du Roi, a garden descending toward the Ixelles Ponds. Authentic Neo-Classical pavilions and 19th-century Art-Deco-style mansions also adorn the avenue. The major shopping area is situated at Stéphanie Square, while Louise Square hosts mostly law court buildings of Brussels, as well as the Blue Tower skyscraper.
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Boulevard du Midi (Zuidplein)
Address: Boulevard du Midi (Zuidplein)
  Phone: +32 2 514 4538
 

Boulevard du Midi is one of the most thriving hubs of Brussels. Not only is the boulevard the favourite meeting point of locals and tourists, it is also the seat of numerous cultural and social events, such as the Festival du Midi, held each year from mid-July to August. The boulevard is also home to Brussels' largest food market Marche du Midi, where products from all over the world are found.
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