The European Quarter Walking Tour, Brussels (Self Guided)

Along with Luxembourg and Strasbourg, Brussels is one of the de facto capitals of the European Union. The city's European Quarter hosts some of the most important buildings of the European Union, such as the Berlaymont building, the Justus Lipsius building and the Paul-Henri Spaak Building. Take this two-hour tour and discover the European Quarter of Brussels.
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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: 1.4 km
Author: audrey
Residence Palace

1) Residence Palace

The Residence Palace is composed of three buildings and a press center. The buildings were constructed in the 1920s and feature a mix of Art Deco and Postmodern architectural styles. The major architects that had a hand in the design over time include Michale Polak, Philippe Samyn, and Buro Happold. The buildings were first envisioned as a luxurious apartment block that would serve the Brussels bourgeoisie. In the 1940s, the residents were forced to vacate the building as it because the headquarters of the occupying German forces during World War II. Following liberation, the building was used by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force and the Second Tactical Air Force and then became administrative office for the Belgian government. Today, the complex has different uses. The Belgian government continues to use portions of the building. New apartments are under construction in the courtyard area and the pre-war swimming pool, restaurant and theater have been maintained. Ongoing renovations have occurred over the years and in 2004 an international design competition was held to remodel the Bloc-A building to house the Council of the European Union and the European Council. The renovation is nearing completion, but has faced delays.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Justus Lipsius building

2) Justus Lipsius building

The Justus Lipsius building is a building in Brussels (Belgium) which has been the headquarters of the Council of the European Union since 1995. The building is located in the European quarter at Rue de la Loi 175 next to the Schuman roundabout and opposite the Berlaymont building of the European Commission. Like most state buildings in the EU district its architecture is very modern and functional. Many architects, engineers and firms from several Member States of the European Union participated in that large-scale operation. The result was the "Justus Lipsius" building of the Council. It has a total surface of 215,000 m2 (with 24 km of corridors.), divided into three distinct but closely linked parts: 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

3) Berlaymont

The Berlaymont (sometimes nicknamed "the Berlaymonster" or "le Berlaymonstre" in French) is an office building in Brussels, Belgium that houses the headquarters of the European Commission, which is the executive of the European Union (EU). The structure is located at Schuman roundabout at 200 Rue de la Loi, in what is known as the "European district". The building has housed the European Commission since its construction, and has become a symbol of the Commission (its name becoming a metonymy for the Commission) and the European presence in Brussels. The Commission itself is spread over some 60 odd buildings, but the Berlaymont is the institution's headquarters, being the seat of the President of the European Commission and its College of Commissioners. The building, under the provisional name "Centre Administratif Europe", was designed by Lucien de Vestel. It was directly inspired by the 1958 secretariat building of UNESCO in Paris.
Sight description based on wikipedia

4) Charlemagne

The 206-foot, 17-story Charlemagne Building is part of the European Quarter of Brussels and is home to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade and the Directorate-General for Enlargement. A Directorate-General is similar to a department or government ministry. The Directorate-General for Trade’s focus is to secure solidarity, security and prosperity for in Europe relating to manufactured goods, intellectual property, investment and services. The Directorate-General for Enlargement deals with matter related to the expansion of the European Union (EU). Over the years, the EU has expanded from six Member States to 27 members. Architect Jacques Cuisinier designed the building and construction was completed in 1967. The building recently underwent a renovation between 1995 and 1998 by Helmut Jahn, an American architect born in Germany. That renovation replaced the concrete exterior with the glass that is seen today. The exterior of the building along Rue de la Loi features several whimsical bronze statues of young girls. These eight statues are the work of the Belgian sculptor Rene Julien and were erected in this location in 1998. In 2010, the building was under consideration to serve as the headquarters of the newly formed European External Section Service (EESS), an organization that manages the EUs response to crisis. This ended up being rejected, as the EESS wanted to maintain an appearance of separation from the two other Directorate-Generals that were already located in the building.
Sight description based on wikipedia

5) Lex

The 181-foot, 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
European Economic and Social Committee Building

6) European Economic and Social Committee Building

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Building, which is also known as the Delors Building, is the home of the 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. There are 344 members of the EESC and membership is proportional to the population of each EU state. The highest representation of members is from Germany, France, Italy and United Kingdom, with 24 members each. Malta, with five members has the smallest representation.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Espace Léopold

7) Espace Léopold

The Espace Léopold is a collection of buildings that house the European Parliament, a legislative chamber of the European Union (EU). The building boasts a Postmodern architectural style and was designed by Atelier Espace Léopold with additional assistance from Michel Boucquillon. Construction started in 1989, the building opened in 1993, and construction was complete in 1995. Expansions to the building occurred, with the last expansion completed in 2008. The EU has many institutions in Brussels, so it made sense to have a place for the European Parliament as well, though the official seat of the Parliament is in Strasbourg, France. The public may tour the building as long as there are no Parliament meetings being held. It is free and an audio guide is provided. There is also a visitor’s center which provides more information on the complex. The European Parliament has an impressive collection of over 360 paintings and sculptures and they are displayed throughout the buildings Outside of the Paul-Henri Spaak building of the complex is May Claerhout’s “Europe” statues, which depicts the figure Europa. She is depicted as being supported by a mass of people, but also separate from them. Europa carries an “e” symbol, which is the currency symbol of the euro.
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.
The Sablon Sights Walking Tour

The Sablon Sights Walking Tour

The Sablon is a hill and neighborhood in the historic upper town of Brussels. At the top of the hill we find the twin squares of Grand Sablon and Petit Sablon, divided by the Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon. The area is especially known for a great variety of antique dealers, chocolate shops and art galleries.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.6 km
City Center Orientation Walk

City Center Orientation Walk

Brussels is a major European capital with a remarkable history and cultural heritage. It features a large number of architectural sites, museums and world -famous specialty shops. Take a walk and discover the main landmarks of Brussels such as the world-renowned Grand Place and the Royal Palace.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 km
Small Ring Walking Tour

Small Ring Walking Tour

The Small Ring is a road in Brussels which surrounds the historic center of the city. It was built on top of the city's former fortifications, originally constructed in a pentagonal shape. Today, the Small Ring is home to several significant sites, such as the Egmont Palace, impressive memorials, as well as the last remains of the city's fortifications, the Halle Gate. Take this two-hour...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 km
Chocolate Shops Tour

Chocolate Shops Tour

Belgium is considered one of the best producers of chocolate. Its capital, Brussels, offers you the opportunity to taste more than 2000 different types of chocolate. There is a plethora of chocolate shops in Brussels which offer chocolates of all shapes, sizes and colors imaginable. Go ahead and take a look at Brussels most visited chocolate shops in this tour.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Laken Park Walking Tour

Laken Park Walking Tour

Laken, also known as Laeken, is a park in a residential suburb of Brussels. Laken Park was formerly the official home to the Belgian Royal Family and is home to the Royal Castle, the Royal Greenhouses, the statue of Leopold I of Belgium, and more. Take this three-hour walk to visit the most famous attractions of Laken Park in Brussels.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 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

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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...
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...

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.