The European Quarter Walking Tour, Brussels

The European Quarter Walking Tour (Self Guided), Brussels

Along with Luxembourg and Strasbourg, Brussels is one of the European Union’s de facto capitals. The office blocks of the European Quarter are mainly concentrated along and between two wide boulevards – rue de la Loi and rue Belliard – which Léopold II built to connect his Parc du Cinquantenaire with the city center.

Begin your exploration with the EU’s most symbolic construction, the Berlaymont, a huge office building that was widely praised for its design – shaped like a giant cross of St Andrew – when it opened in 1967. After a refurbishment that took thirteen years, it reopened in 2004 and certainly looks even better as a home to the European Commission.

Not far away, the Charlemagne high-rise accommodates the rest of the Commission’s bureaucracy, while opposite, housing the Council of the EU, is the cream-colored Justus Lipsius building, constructed in the mid-1990s and linked via two skyways to the much newer Europa Building – seat of the European Council.

On rue Belliard, the low-rise Jacques Delors building houses the European Economic and Social Committee as well as the Committee of the Regions, while the European Parliament is at l’Espace Léopold. The latter’s curved glass roof, rising to 70 m (228 ft), can be seen from all around the district, and there are particularly pretty views from Parc Léopold at its eastern side.

Take this self-guided walking tour to discover Brussels’ European Quarter at your own pace.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

The European Quarter Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: The European 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 or 0.8 Miles
Author: audrey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Berlaymont
  • Justus Lipsius Building
  • Europa Building
  • Charlemagne Building
  • Lex Building
  • Delors Building
  • Espace Leopold

1) Berlaymont

The Berlaymont (sometimes nicknamed "the Berlaymonster") is an office building in Brussels that houses the headquarters of the European Commission, the executive of the European Union. The unique form of the Berlaymont's architecture is used in the European Commission's official emblem.

The building now has 240,000 m² of floor space on 18 levels, connected by 42 lifts and 12 escalators. Offices for 3,000 officials and meeting rooms are in the tower. Restaurant and services, a 900-seat cafeteria, TV studio, conference rooms, storage rooms, Nordic sauna, car parking for over 1,100 vehicles and various services occupy the basement.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Justus Lipsius Building

2) Justus Lipsius Building

The Justus Lipsius building is a building in Brussels which has been the headquarters of the Council of the European Union since 1995. Like most government buildings in the EU district its architecture is very modern and functional. The building has a total surface of 215,000 m2 divided into three distinct: the Conference Centre, the Secretariat and the substructure. The building is named after Justus Lipsius, a Flemish philologist and humanist, who previously lent his name to a street that was removed to make way for the large complex.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Europa Building

3) Europa Building

The Europa building is the seat of the European Council and Council of the European Union. Its defining feature is the multi-storey "lantern-shaped" construct holding the main meeting rooms; a representation of which has been adopted by both the European Council and Council of the EU as their official emblems.

The Europa building is situated on the former site of the partially demolished and renovated Bloc A of the Residence Palace. Its exterior combines the listed Art Deco façade of the original 1920s building with the contemporary design of architect Philippe Samyn. The building is linked via two skyways and a service tunnel to the adjacent Justus Lipsius building, which provides for additional office space, meeting rooms and press facilities.
Charlemagne Building

4) Charlemagne Building

The Charlemagne building is a prominent high-rise located in the European Quarter of Brussels. It serves as the home for several important entities, including the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, the Directorate-General for Trade, and, since 2015, the Internal Audit Service of the Commission.

Designed by architect Jacques Cuisinier and built in 1967 (the same year bell-bottoms were all the rage), the building features three wings and encompasses 15 floors. Its construction coincided with that of the Berlaymont building, with the aim of centralizing various departments of the European Commission that were previously scattered; however, due to the Commission's decision not to share the Berlaymont with the Council of the European Union, the Charlemagne building was allocated to the Council's secretariat in 1971. It remained in this capacity until the Council relocated to the Justus Lipsius building in 1995, allowing for a comprehensive renovation of the Charlemagne.

The renovation, overseen by architect Helmut Jahn, was completed in 1998 and involved a transformation of the building's predominantly concrete exterior into one featuring extensive glass elements (because every building wants to be transparent these days). Following the restoration, the building became the new home for the Commission, contributing to the consolidation of various European Union offices around the Schuman roundabout. It's where important decisions are made, and where coffee expenses are audited with the seriousness they deserve.
Lex Building

5) Lex Building

The 15-story Lex Building is a government office in the European Quarter of Brussels. The building was constructed over a two year period and completed in 2006. The facade is made of a glass curtain system. Prior to construction of the Lex, an old mansion on the site had to be demolished. Instead of trying to renovate or incorporate the old building, it was demolished in favor of starting with a blank slate and designing a building that could suit the end users needs more appropriately. The desire for additional government offices was driven by the fact that the European Union (EU) was expanded in based upon the Treaty of Accession 2003 with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia.

The design for the building came out of an international competition, with Belgian architects Jasper-Eyers having the winning design. The design features two opposing shells. The building served as an annex to the Council of Ministers, which represents the Member States’ governments. Any acts that are relevant to the lives of EU citizens or have a large international impact are adopted by the Council, typically in conjunction with the European Parliament.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Delors Building

6) Delors Building

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Building, which is also known as the Delors Building, is the home of EESC. It was named after the French economist and politician, Jacques Delors, who was a prominent President of the European Commission from 1985 to 1994. He was the only president of the European Commission to serve three terms.

The EESC is an assembly of employer organizations, trade unions and other representative groups of related interest. The EESC was established in 1957 under the Treaty of Rome, with the goal of establishing a single market out of differing economic interest groups. The EESC acts in a consultancy role, however, based upon provisions of the Treaty of Maastricht, the EESC has influence in the areas of social policy, environment, education, health, consumer protection and indirect taxation, among other areas. The EESC provides input on subjects relating to European integration and issues opinion papers on various topics.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Espace Leopold

7) Espace Leopold

The Espace Léopold is the complex of parliament buildings in Brussels housing the European Parliament, a legislative chamber of the European Union.

It consists of a number of buildings, primarily the oldest, the Paul-Henri Spaak building, which houses the debating chamber and the President's offices, and the Altiero Spinelli building which is the largest. The buildings are located in the European quarter in the east of Brussels, with building starting in 1989.

The complex is not the official seat of Parliament, which is the Immeuble Louise Weiss in Strasbourg, France, but as most of the other institutions of the European Union are in Brussels, Parliament built the Brussels complex to be closer to their activities. A majority of the Parliament's work is now geared to its Brussels site, but it is legally bound to keep Strasbourg as its official home.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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.
Brussels Historical Churches Walking Tour

Brussels Historical Churches Walking Tour

As well as being Belgium’s political and cultural capital, Brussels is the spiritual home of its most significant churches. Historically, the city has been predominantly Roman Catholic, especially since the expulsion of Protestants in the 16th century. The pre-eminent Catholic temple here, located just a couple of minutes from the Grand-Place, is the Brabantine Gothic Cathedral of St. Michael...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 Km or 2.7 Miles
Brussels Introduction Walking Tour

Brussels Introduction Walking Tour

Brussels is a major European metropolis with a remarkable history and cultural heritage, renowned for its cuisine and gastronomy, as well as for its historical and architectural landmarks, some of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. The history of Brussels is closely linked to that of Western Europe, during which the city has evolved from a small rural settlement to an important...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Mont Des Arts Cultural Walk

Mont Des Arts Cultural Walk

Mont des Arts, meaning "hill of the arts", is one of the most important cultural sites in Brussels. A classic among the city’s vantage points, it offers a fine city garden and restored showcase of architecture, in addition to several great museums.

Start your journey by traveling towards the old part of the city, where you’ll find the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, greatly admired...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Grand Place Walking Tour

Grand Place Walking Tour

World-famous for its imposing Baroque-style buildings, such as the Town Hall, the King's House and the House of Dukes, the Grand Place of Brussels a whole is indisputably a masterpiece of human creative genius, with a special quality of homogeneity and coherency.

The buildings around the Grand Place, all different but built within a very short period, admirably illustrate the Baroque...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.3 Km or 0.2 Miles
Chocolate Tour in Brussels

Chocolate Tour in Brussels

Belgium is considered one of, if not the, best producer of chocolate in the world. The country's capital, Brussels abounds in opportunities to taste more than 2,000 different varieties of this delectable treat. There is a plethora of chocolate shops in the city which offer chocolates of all imaginable shapes, sizes and colors.

Planète Chocolat’s chocolate-making demonstration make a...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Brussels Beer Tour

Brussels Beer Tour

Belgians are not very prone to boasting, except with things such as chocolate, fries and, evidently, beer. They treat beer the way the French treat wine: for the makers, it's a prized art; for the drinkers, it is something to be savored and discussed. They say that, on average, Belgians drink 150 liters of beer per year per person, and one would often see them sipping it from early in the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles

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...