Leopold Quarter Walking Tour, Brussels (Self Guided)

Built in 1837, the Leopold Quarter is a popular district in Brussels and features some of city's most significant buildings, like the Paul-Henri Spaak building, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and Antoine Wiertz Museum. The district is also home to the popular Leopold Park and Jean Rey Square. Check out this next three-hour tour and enjoy the best sites of the Leopold Quarter in Brussels.
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Leopold Quarter Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Leopold Quarter Walking Tour
Guide Location: Belgium » Brussels (See other walking tours in Brussels)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 km
Author: audrey
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

1) Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences is owned by the Royal Belgian Institute and is dedicated to natural history. The museum was founded in 1846 and started with the collection of Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine. In the 1860s, when new fortifications were being constructed near Antwerp, several whale fossils were unearthed. These became part of the museum’s collection. A mammoth skeleton was also unearthed around the time and became a popular display. The museum also displays fossils of the rare Iguanodon, a bulky herbivore dating back to the Early Cretaceous period. There are more that 37 million specimens or items in the museum’s collection, making it an important repository not only for Belgium, but one of the top-10 natural science museums in the world. The museum’s permanent collection includes: dinosaur hall, mammoths, north and south pole exhibits, a gallery of shells, the insect gallery, a mineral gallery and whale hall. Temporary rotating exhibits, which tend to be interactive in nature, are also presented at the museum. Research conducted by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences is occasionally showcased at the museum. An extensive library with old naturalist history books and contemporary academic journals is also on site.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Friday: 9:30 am - 5:00 pm; Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Antoine Wiertz Museum

2) Antoine Wiertz Museum

The Antoine Wierzt Museum, part of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, is dedicated to the works of the Belgium sculptor and painter, Antoine Joseph Wiertz. The artist studied in Antwerp and then in Italy after he won the Prix de Rome in 1832. That award allowed him to spend three years in residence in Rome. Wierzt is credited with developing a new style in oil painting. He did not like the shiny effect that oil painting left, so he developed a style called mat painting, which uses mixed colors, turpentine and other additives. His 1853 piece, “The Homeric Struggle” was the first large-scale piece to use this technique. Unfortunately, this technique resulted in a slow decay of his work, due to the additives to the paint. He moved to Brussels in the later years of his life, partially motivated by the death of his mother. When he came to Brussels, the local government gave him a workshop and studio space, which is the museum that you see today. Since Wiertz often created large-scale pieces of art, the workshop was also large in size. Wiertz’s artistic works actually garner mixed reviews and the museum typically has low attendance.

Operation hours: Tuesday – Friday: 10 am - 12 pm and 1 pm - 5 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Paul-Henri Spaak Building

3) Paul-Henri Spaak Building

The Paul-Henri Spaak building (PHS) is a department of the European Union Committee in Brussels. Named after former President Paul-Henri Spaak, it houses the hemicycle for plenary sessions in that city, as well as a press centre and offices for the Parliament's president and senior Parliament staff. The building juts from the main buildings out into Leopold Park surrounding the far side with trees. With its striking cylinder-shaped glass dome, redolent of the Crystal Palace as well as the Northern Bordiau Hall of the nearby Parc du Cinquantenaire, the building known to locals as the "Caprice des Dieux" (whim of the gods), which is the name of a cheese with the same shape. The 12th floor President's Dining Room is the dome's interior. This is being used for some press events and special occasions. One of the glass facades inside the dome is covered with a 150 square meters large ceramic mural called Miti del Mediterraneo, portraying the abduction of Europa and other elements of Greek mythology, which was made between 1992 and 1993 by Aligi Sassu.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Leopold Park

4) Leopold Park

Leopold Park is located within the heart of the European Quarter. It is adjacent to the Paul-Henri Spaak building, home to the European Parliament. The park covers 10 hectares (25 acres) and replaced the Royal Zoological Gardens, which were located on this site. The park was opened in 1880. At that time, the park supported buildings of the campus of the Solvay School of Commerce. The school wanted to add additional buildings to the campus, but there was concern from the public that they would encroach into the park too much and detract from the enjoyment of park visitors. The original buildings for the school still stand in the park, though only one is still owned by the school. The park is popular with local and visitors, as it offers a lushly-vegetated respite from the hustle and bustle of Brussels. Remains of the medieval Eggevoort tower are in the park. The pond, which is fed by the Maalbek stream, is a prominent feature in the park. The pond is also one of the last that remains in the entire Maalbek Valley. Several avian species can be found in the park, including coots, mallards, geese, parakeets and moorhens. Entrance to the park is free and there is also a play area that is popular with young visitors.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Institute of Physiology

5) Institute of Physiology

Now a department of Emile Jacqmain lyceum, the former Institute of Physiology is famous for the Solvay Conference hosted in this building. The conference brought together such personalities as Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Marie Curie. The building is also remarkable for its impressive architecture.
Jean Rey Square

6) Jean Rey Square

Jean Rey Square is located in the European Quarter of Brussels and was inaugurated in June 2001, concurrent with the beginning of the Belgian European presidency. The square is situated between Leopold Park and the Justus Lipsius building. The square was included in development plans dating back to the 1980s, but faced construction delays due to controversies of development in the surrounding area. Part of the motivation of construction the square was to provide vegetation and public space in the rather stark European Quarter area, which tends to be dominated by high rise structures. The square features natural stone paving with planter box borders and benches. A row of trees lining the western side of the square mirrors the axis that runs from the entrance of Leopold Park and across the street to the south. There are 24 water jets in the center of the square that mirror storm drain system below. The square was named after Jean Rey, a Belgian lawyer and the second President of the European Commission. Future redevelopment plans in the European Quarter would retain the square, and it would be integrated into any future plans. The Belgium transit authority is considering building a metro stop at the square in the future.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Convent Van Maerlant

7) Convent Van Maerlant

The Convent Van Maerlant is a former convent composed of a chapel and church featuring a neo-gothic architectural style. It is located on Rue Van Maerlanstraat in the European Quarter. The red brick exterior makes the building stand out on the urban landscape. The original chapel was constructed in 1435 under the authority of the Papal Bull and renovated in the late 1700s. The current chapel is a near duplication of the one dating back to the 1400s, but renovations in the 1990s removed the original interior features. The convent was home to the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, an Order started in 1844. The convent was made from a converted house in the 1850s. The convent was closed in the 1980s due to the lack of people seeking a vocation with the church and eventually became the site of the European Commission’s central library and the Directorate-General for Education and Culture. This Directorate-General has the mission of building a knowledgeable Europe and also developing a European cultural area. The building still serves as a local chapel, but it is also used as a meeting space to encourage dialogue between different European Christian groups.

Walking Tours in Brussels, Belgium

Create Your Own Walk in Brussels

Create Your Own Walk in Brussels

Creating your own self-guided walk in Brussels is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
City Center Museums

City Center Museums

Known as the cultural capital of Belgium, Brussels has a large number of museums located in the heart of the city. Brussels is famous for such museums as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the Magritte Museum, the Museum of Brussels, the Museum of Musical Instruments, etc. This

tour includes the most popular museums in Brussels City Center, all within a pleasant walking distance.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Cinquantenaire Walking Tour

Cinquantenaire Walking Tour

Cinquantenaire is a famous public park in Brussels. Planned by King Leopold in the late 19th century, Cinquantenaire hosts some of the most significant museums in Brussels, such as the Museum of Art and History, the Museum of the Army and Military History, and the Autoworld museum. There are also a number of monuments located in the park. Check out this guide to fully explore this wonderful park.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
Mont Des Arts Walk

Mont Des Arts Walk

Mont des Arts, meaning "hill/mount of the arts", is a historic site in the center of Brussels. The Mont des Arts offers one of Brussels' finest views, the famous tower of the Brussels Town Hall in the Grand Place is clearly visible. On a sunny day, the Koekelberg Basilica and even the Atomium can be seen.
Major tourist attractions are located within walking distance of the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
A Walking Tour in Heysel Park

A Walking Tour in Heysel Park

Situated in north Brussels, Heysel Park was home to the 1935 Brussels International Exposition. Today, Heysel Park is a great place to take your family and kids, it is home to such entertainment venues as the Planetarium, Carousel and Oceade water park. Heysel Park also includes a number of significant tourist spots, such as the Atomium, the Palace of Exhibitions, Bruparck, and other Art Deco...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
Marolles and Matonge Nightlife

Marolles and Matonge Nightlife

Brussels' nightlife is represented by the variety of its clubs, among which are not only out and out discotheques, but also clubs that host world-famous DJs and live music. Brussels is home to some of the most fashionable night clubs in Belgium. Take this walking tour to visit the most famous venues located in the Marolles and Matonge districts of Brussels.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
City Center Churches

City Center Churches

Brussels is the cultural capital of Belgium, it is also the spiritual home of Belgium's most significant churches. The city has a number of unique religious sites such as the Saint Nicholas Church, the Church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle and the Sablon Church. Take this tour to visit some of the most impressive churches and cathedrals in Brussels' city center.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

What to Buy in Brussels: 15 Ideas for Travelers

What to Buy in Brussels: 15 Ideas for Travelers

It's no secret that Brussels is not all about JCVD muscles and EU headquarters. Small country as such, Belgium abounds in signature items, such as beer, chocolates and... the peeing boy. All of these have made prime Belgian souvenirs for years. Now you can explore the Brussels gift scene in...
Belgian Beer Tour of Brussels

Belgian Beer Tour of Brussels

Belgium is world-renowned for its beers and Brussels is the best city to sample the huge variety of flavors. We'll show you the best places to buy them and to drink them. We'll even show you a family brewery where the liquid gold is produced right in front of your eyes! This tour is meant...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Brussels for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Brussels has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money getting around Brussels and visiting the city's multiple highlights, you may want to resort to the Brussels City Card.

Among other conveniences, this card allows its bearer to explore Brussels's top attractions, tours, restaurants, bars and clubs, and selected shops either completely free of charge (41 museums) or with great (up to 50%) discounts. The card provides 24-, 48-, or 72-hour passes to these locations, plus free ride on the hop-on hop-off bus and public transportation (optional) thus putting Brussels at your fingertips! Reduced rates for children and students also apply at participating venues.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Brussels hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: NH Brussels Carrefour de L’Europe, Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo, Hotel Novotel Brussels Off Grand Place.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Brussels, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close, with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, as a guided tour of Brussels typically costs from around US$20 up to US$50+ per person:

- Take a 3-hour guided walk around central Brussels to discover the city's historic locations, learn about its legendary men and women who made history, delve into the origins of Brussels, and acquaint yourself with the Belgian capital's contemporary culture and gastronomy;

- Embark on a must-see tour of real Brussels exploring the city's top attractions through the eyes of a local guide revealing a flip side of the well-known locations, plus discovering a few secret spots only the locals know about, away from the trodden tourist paths. En route, you may give yourself a treat to the authentic Belgian cuisine at a local eatery, not forgetting the world-famous Belgian chocolate, plus indulge yourself in some other local delights along the way.

- Appreciate Belgian gastronomy in its diversity – chocolate, waffles, beers, fries, and more – on the Food and Beer walking tour of Brussels offering a unique chance to savor a variety of local foods, drink local beers and unleash your sweet tooth onto the delicious local chocolate, whilst listening to a great deal of fun stories associated with each of these delights!

- Come and see what's made Belgium an international beer superpower on a 2.5-hour beer tasting tour of Brussels led by a local expert. Here, you will learn to tell a difference between the Belgian and foreign-made brews plus acquaint yourself with some of the 1,000+ craft beers made in this country.

- Pedal your way across Brussels on a 3.5-hour guided biking tour to discover the city's beauty manifested in its top landmarks, breath in the local atmosphere, plus enjoy along the way some of the best fries and beer (optional) the city has to offer.

- Explore the artistic side of Brussels on the tour following in the footsteps of renowned Belgian artists who left their mark in the field of Surrealist painting and Art Nouveau architecture. On this tour you will see some of the city's hidden gems, visit independent galleries and more, led step by step by a knowledgeable local guide.

Day Trips

If you have a half or full day to spare whilst in Brussels, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Ghent and Bruges, Antwerp, Maasmechelen, or Waterloo. For as little as US$10+ to US$100+ you will get a chance to acquaint yourself with the UNESCO World Heritage city of Ghent's medieval architecture, learn about Bruges's Viking and Middle Age history, get to see Antwerp - the hometown of Peter Paul Rubens and one of the largest harbors in the world, shop till you drop at Maasmechelen Village with over 100 international boutiques offering big-name brand clothing at reduced (down to 40%) prices, plus visit the site of one of the most significant battles in the history of Europe that saw the ultimate defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. All these trips start and end at your hotel and you'll be carried by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or minivan, accompanied by an English-speaking tour guide.