(Brussels, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium)
The Atomium is a very famous and distinctive structure in the city, and was built for the Expo of 1958. Long tubes link each of the nine spheres, which can be accessed by escalators. The views from the spheres are excellent, while at night time, the whole structure is illuminated to good effect.
Known for their beautiful topiary and formal planting, the city's Botanical Gardens (Botanique) are dominated by their beautiful palm house.
Although much of the cityscape contains historical buildings, there are also many more modern high-rise structures that now comprise the skyline.
The city contains countless highly affordable high-rise hotels, offering modern facilities in convenient locations. However, the best accommodation can become busy during the summer months of July and August, when room rates are known to rise.
The Grote Markt (Grand Place) is one of the most appealing places to eat out and this area is littered with cafes providing al fresco dining.
Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, the Grote Place was laid out in the 15th century, although needed to be almost completely rebuilt at the end of the 17th century, following an attack by the French forces. Today, the architecture of the square is surprisingly harmonious, comprising a mixture of Baroque, Flemish, Gothic, Renaissance and Louis XIV styles.
Surrounded by magnificent guild houses and Gothic-style architecture, the Grote Markt is also home to the Town Hall, which dates from the 15th century. Particular highlights include seasonal flower and bird markets.
A famous symbol of the city and much photographed by tourists, the Manneken Pis is a small bronze sculpture and fountain. The Manneken Pis can be found at the corner of the Rue du Chene and the Rue de l'Etuve, close to the Town Hall.
Used as the official palace of the Belgian monarch (King of the Belgians), the Royal Palace of Brussels (Palais Royal de Bruxelles) stages many official state functions. However, the royal family rarely stay here, since they choose to live on the outskirts of the city, in the Royal Castle of Laeken.
The central shopping district is filled with large trees, benches and attractive features, such as stone fountains and sculptures.
The Cathédrale des Saints Michel et Gudule (St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral) is a dramatic Gothic structure and is where all royal weddings in Belgium take place, together with prominent Roman Catholic services.
The St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral is situated at the Treurenberg Hill, where it is hard to miss. At the front is a small grassed area, lined with trees, while inside, the carved stone columns, vaulted ceiling and stained-glass windows are especially impressive attractions.