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Location - Western Europe; Capital - Brussels; Population - 11 million; Currency - Euro MORE BELGIUM

After a brief stop in Paris I continued on to Bruges by train - May 2010. I've also included the Bruges ice sculpture exhibition of December 2015.
I've updated the Brussels photos from several trips over the years, the last being where I caught the sound-and-light show in the Grand Place. Plus there's some quality street art and Tintin murals dotted around the capital - May 2010 to December 2015.


euroBelgium is in the Euro zone










belgium562In December every year an ice sculpture festival takes place outside the train station in Bruges


belgium569Ice Magic hosts a different theme every year and in 2015 it was WanaGoGo. No, I've no idea either! But the sculptures were very cartoonish - Bruges


belgium579What look like stairs is actually an ice slide (clear ice blocks are laid on top of the steps). Apparently because I was wearing jeans I 'slid' down in a very unfluid, staccato-like action - Bruges













belgium576A view of the ice bar and Christmas tree from the top of the slide - Bruges














belgium580Various sculptors from around the world come to carve the ice, with intricate designs and a flowing imagination - Bruges


belgium596A clever sculpture of a fish trapped in a dolphin's mouth - Bruges


belgium606Presumably these are WanaGoGo characters - Bruges















belgium610I love the dog - Bruges





















belgium591Check it out if you're in Bruges in the winter, but for the real McCoy get yourself to the incredible, amazing Snow & Ice festival in Harbin, China - Bruges


belgium468Passing through Bruges on my way to Damme in July 2013


belgium468aThe Belfort (belfry) dominates the Markt, the main square in Bruges


belg17The current version of the Belfort dates back to 1822 - Bruges



















belg18A hot air balloon floats past the Belfort - Bruges















belg27Climb lots and lots of steps for views of Bruges from the Belfort


belgium468bGabled buildings, mostly restaurants, line the north side of the Markt - Bruges


belg29The historic area of Bruges is a World Heritage Site















belg40There's loads of chocolate shops in Bruges, several of which produce the confectionery on-site














belg52Sculptures made entirely of chocolate, at the Chocolate Museum - Bruges


belg45A short walk from the Markt is the Burg, another square in the heart of Bruges. The Stadhuis (Town Hall) is on the left. To the right is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, named after the phial of Jesus' blood that you can lay your hands on inside. Of course it's real!


belg44The Burg hosted a cultural musical concert, shown here with the Stadhuis as a backdrop - Bruges














belg49This bar displays all of Belgium's '780 beers' past and present - Bruges















belg53Canals weave through most of central Bruges


belg58The Belfort rises above the canalside buildings - Bruges


belg66There's an endless supply of boats cruising the Bruges canals















belg57The canals look very atmospheric at night - Bruges















belg69Though Bruges became a wealthy commercial outpost over the 12th-15th centuries, most of the buildings in Bruges date to only the 19th and 20th centuries


belg68Bruges historic centre


belg37The Begijnhof, founded in the 13th century, was home to a community of Catholic women. They are now home to Benedictine nuns - Bruges













belgium471Take a bike ride along the canals and you'll pass several windmills - Bruges














belgium472None of these windmills were in operation, though maybe they get cranked up at some point in the year - Bruges


belg72A canal just across the road from the train station - Bruges


belgium998For some reason the Manneken Pis statue is very famous and obligatory on the tourist itinerary - Brussels













belgium997The original is in the Brussels City Museum at Maison du Roi on the Grand Place along with 800 of his costumes. Can't remember which one though! Think it's the one on the right - Brussels













belgium993The Grand Place is surrounded by grandiose buildings. Here the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) is on the left with the guildhalls on the right, on a lovely winter's day - Brussels


belg82The ornate guildhalls on the Grand Place, the ground floors of which are now restaurants - Brussels


belgium985The 15th century Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) on the Grand Place - Brussels














belgium989At Christmas time the Grand Place is the centre of an excellent sound-and-light show - Brussels













belgium991The focus is the Hotel de Ville but look around and you'll see the show surrounds you - Brussels


belgium992From green to blue to red to white, all with accompanying violins - Brussels


brussels2The guildhalls of the Grand Place - Brussels













belg84The Maison du Roi (King's House) is also known as the Breadhouse - Brussels














belg97Guess the subject of this opera - Brussels


belg98St Michael & St Gudula Cathedral, or Brussels Cathedral as I like to call it - Brussels


belg99The Parc de Bruxelles is further east of the Grand Place - Brussels














belg101The National Palace stands behind the Parc de Bruxelles - Brussels













belgium984Just off the Grand Place is the restaurant-filled Rue des Bouchers - Brussels


belgium981Rue des Bouchers opens out into Galeries St Hubert, an arcade of chic (read expensive) shops - Brussels


belgium979Like it! Outside a bar opposite the Galeries St Hubert - Brussels













belgium1001One of the most popular bars, for tourists anyway, is the Delirium Bar just off Rue des Bouchers. It has a crazy number of beers from Belgium and around the world - Brussels












belgium999The Manneken Pis is world famous, but this is the lesser known - and more recent - female version, Jeanneke Pis, opposite the Delirium Bar - Brussels


brussels35The Atomium is synonymous with Brussels and Belgium














brussels31It was built for the 1958 World Fair and represents an iron molecule expanded 165 billion times - Brussels














brussels44It consists of nine spheres, several of which detail the story of Expo'58 - Brussels


brussels36The Belgian flag flies above the top sphere, which is linked to the ground floor by a central lift - Brussels


brussels52Go to the top sphere for views of the city. And dine in the restaurant while you're at it - Brussels














brussels54Escalators link the spheres - Brussels















brussels53Looking down from the top sphere of the Atomium - Brussels


belgium982The 19th century Palais de Justice law courts was once the world's largest building - Brussels


belgium953 To many, Belgium is synonymous with chocolate, beer and Tintin. Plus Jean-Claude van Damme of course - Brussels













belgium946 I can't say I know the comic books but I love street art and murals. This impressive mural is inside Stockel metro station - Brussels













belgium948It features 140 Tintin characters in two murals created by Studio Hergé, stretching 135m each - Brussels


belgium954Hergé is the pen-name of cartoonist and Tintin creator, Georges Remi (Hergé are his initials reversed, RG). See his tag here on the Peeping Policeman mural on Rue Haute. See that the wall is now just a facade as the building behind has been demolished. Luckily the mural must be protected! Brussels


belgium957 A few metres from the policeman, on Rue des Capucins, 'Life Scene' is one of the murals that comprise the capital's Comic Strip Walk - Brussels













belgium959 ..Plus this one on the same road, with the dome of the Palais de Justice behind - Brussels














belgium960Place du Jeu-de-Balle holds a flea market selling all sorts of useful, and useless, second-hand items - Brussels


belgium962Sleeping Pigs is an excellent piece of street art somewhere on/near Rue de Marche au Charbon. It's tagged by Roa who also has a few works in London - Brussels


belgium965 Another Hergé mural is on Rue de l'Etuve featuring Tintin, Snowy the dog and Captain Haddock - Brussels













belgium969 'Tibet & Duchateau' is a clever and entertaining mural on Rue de Bon Secours - Brussels



















belgium966Sexy mural or just a shop shutter? I typed in the website name and nothing comes back but cool advertising anyway (or it would be if the website worked!) - Brussels


belgium973Christmas stalls, complete with ferris wheel , line Place Ste Catherine - Brussels


belgium978Scary monster time, or the Funny Christmas Ice Monster to give it its full name - Brussels














belgium974 The last of my street art photos is of 'Manneken Pis Displaced' on Rue de Flandre, near Place Ste Catherine - Brussels


















brussels13Tervuren, a 20 minute tram ride from Brussels, is home to the Royal Museum for Central Africa. It's built from the proceeds of King Leopold II's personal possession of the time, the Congo Free State, now the DR Congo (and Zaire before that).


brussels15King Leopold II caused millions to die in the Congo, in his quest for wealth gained from rubber and ivory - Tervuren


brussels17The Arcade du Cinquantenaire was also built by Leopold II using money gained from the Congo - Brussels













brussels27The European Parliament is a few minutes walk from the Parc du Cinquantenaire - Brussels














brussels28Not sure what this says (joke!). A very long-winded sign at the European Parliament - Brussels


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