Are you visiting Brussels for the very first time, or have you stayed in our beautiful city before? Either way, here’s a selection of sights that you simply mustn’t miss. They’re all a short walk away from Hotel Villa Royale.
The Royal Park
The entire area of the Royal Park (Parc de Bruxelles/Warandepark) and the Royal Square (see below) is situated on an historic site where the castle of the Dukes of Brabant stood from the 11th century. Later, this developed into the impressive Palace of Coudenberg, which was destroyed by fire in 1730. The site was then developed as neo-classicist pleasure gardens, where music was played and people had somewhere to sit and relax. It is from this time that the building known as the Waux-Hall or Vauxhall dates. In September 1830, the Royal Park was caught up in the events of the Belgian Revolution.
The Royal Square
In the middle of the Royal Square (Place Royale/Koningsplein) stands a statue of Godfrey of Bouillon, one of the leaders of the First Crusade (1096-1099). The statue was installed in 1843, around the same time as other statues of famous figures of the past across the country. The new state of Belgium was keen to legitimise its historical roots during this period. The square is flanked by three museums: the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the Magritte Museum and the BELvue Museum devoted to Belgian history.
The Column of Congress
This 47-metre column is topped by a statue of King Leopold I and has an interior staircase of 193 steps. Inspired by Trajan’s Column in Rome and inaugurated on 26 September 1859, it commemorates the National Congress which proclaimed the Belgian Constitution (1831) following the Revolution of 1830.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
At the foot of the Column, between two colossal bronze lions by the sculptor Simonis symbolising the independence of Belgium and its devotion to its freedom, is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The mortal remains of an unknown Belgian soldier were deposited here during a solemn ceremony on 11 November 1923, and an eternal flame burns above the Tomb.