There’s no other way of saying this: Brussels is a weird city. It’s not a place that is on every traveler’s to-go list when spending time in Europe, but it is in a country that I wanted to spend a little time in, so I made a quick stop there during my spring break Euro trip, and I’m glad I did!
After arriving in the city, I checked into my hostel. I don’t often plan out a lot of my trips in advance, so usually I’ll pick up a few city guides from the front desk to see what the must-see things are.
I knew right away that I was going to enjoy my day in Brussels when I looked at the city guide and saw the motto “We’re ugly and we like it.” Brussels isn’t a breathtakingly beautiful city like many other places in Europe; it always seems to fall just short of “pretty,” but it never fails to satisfy the qualifications of “interesting.”
One barely has to look further than the main attraction of the city: Manneken Pis. This fountain, which can be found in the side streets close to the main plaza, is a small boy doing exactly what his name suggests. Nobody knows the actual significance of the statue, but I think that’s what makes him so interesting. He certainly won’t win any beauty awards, but he will remind you of the “irreverent spirit” that Brussels is so proud of.
Always full of contradictions, Brussels’ other main point of interest is the impressive Grand Plaza. This brick square is surrounded by tall historic buildings that certainly could win awards. (In fact, it is named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.)
Looking through my photos of Brussels, I’ve found one in particular that I think summarizes the entire city quite well: a statue of the Manneken Pis standing atop a metallic hot air balloon sculpture and poised to do what he does best.
Even the shiniest of exteriors doesn’t hide how truly offbeat Brussels can be. But why should that be hidden? Brussels is shameless, eccentric, and different. What it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in personality. Brussels is ugly, and I like it.
Would you ever consider going to Brussels?