8. Brussels’ Noble Beginnings: An Upper Town Audio Tour
Once upon a time, Brussels’ Upper Town was home to a majestic medieval castle on a hill that overlooked the city. As it expanded and Belgium came into its own, the Upper Town was redesigned to resemble other imperial capitals, like Paris and Vienna. On this walking tour, you’ll find out about the city’s metamorphosis, and hear about the pivotal characters and moments that define its history. Our tour starts outside Brussels’ parliament complex, the Palace of Nations, where you’ll hear how it took shape under Emperor Joseph II in the 1700s, and about its continual struggle with bureaucratic obstacles. You’ll saunter through the Parc de Bruxelles, once the hunting grounds of nobility and now expansive parks and gardens for the public to enjoy. Once you’ve traced the Royal Palace’s outline, your walk continues amongst the Square of Petit Sablon’s pretty flowers. At Egmont Park, you’ll hear epic tales of royal turmoil and religious conflict within the grounds that witnessed the reigns of Charles V and the Iron Duke, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo. The tour ends with city views fit for a king at the Palace of Justice. On this Brussels walking tour, you’ll have a chance to: • Learn what happened to the old Royal Palace and how the surrounding neighborhood came to be • Hear how a missing statue led to the founding of the Church of Our Lady of Victories at the Sablon • Discover the many faces of Egmont Palace and how its occupants were responsible for modern Belgium • Find out about “the ring,” the city’s historically dense core that was divided into two parts • Explore the different buildings around the Parc de Bruxelles, such as the Parliament, Royal Park Theatre, and the Vaux Hall of Brussels, another theatre • Promenade through the historic district of Sablon, known for its charming cobblestone streets and sophisticated wine bars • Get the layout of the museum district, including some of Brussels’ best like the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Musical Instruments Museum, and the Magritte Museum, an art museum • Stroll through a secret garden at Egmont Park and enjoy a drink at one of the best beer gardens in town During this tour through Brussels’ historic core, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the capital, while you discover both its secrets and finest sights along the way.