The Passion of Brussels, Belgium in Pictures

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    Grand Place

    center of Brussels
    ••• Several of the buildings feature gold accents and have shops and restaurants embedded on their ground floors. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    What's your passion? Whether it's food, drink, shopping or even spiritual, you can satisfy it in the city of Brussels, the capitol of Belgium.

    Brussels is a small (one million population) European capital city, yet its passions are outsize. Although it is the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, there is more to Brussels, Belgium than international trade and politics.

    Where traveling couples ought to start: Brussels' Grand Place is the city's central gathering spot. The wide, cobblestoned plaza, which was was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, is surrounded by buildings dating from the 1400s. Today many of them are filled with shops, restaurants and hotels.

    Also See:

    Top 10 Belgium Attractions & Activities for Couples

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    St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral

    ••• The cathedral is notable for its beautiful stained-glass windows, religious statues, and wooden carvings. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    The passions of Brussels, Belgium pleasure to residents and visitors alike. The spiritually inclined will want to put Belgium's leading Roman Catholic church, the dual-named St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, on their agenda. It was constructed hundreds of years ago.

    Standing high on Treurenberg hill, the Gothic cathedral was first built in the 11th century, renovated in the 13th, and completed in the 15th. It provides succor to those for a passion for Catholicism and draws admiration from those with a passion for history and architecture.

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    Brussels Cathedral

    ••• Interior of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Senses of sight and sound are piqued on a visit to Brussels Cathedral. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    The Brussels Cathedral features a massive pipe organ that fills the nave and towering vaulted ceiling with liturgical music.

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    Splendor in the Grass

    ••• A bit of green in an urban space provides a carpet for lovers. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Your visit doesn't have to be all liturgy and looking up. On the lawn across from St Michaels and St Gudula Cathedral, a couple takes a break from Brussels sightseeing.

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    Galeries Royal St Hubert

    ••• Built in 1847. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Have a passion for shopping? One of Europe's most elegant addresses, the Galeries Royal St Hubert houses several of Brussels' finest chocolatiers and purveyors of luxury products.

    Like the Galleria Umberto in Naples, the Galeries Royal St Hubert is an early example of a covered shopping area.

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    Belgian Lace

    ••• Belgium is consider the home of the world's finest lacemakers, although the craft is dying out. Passionate collectors are willing to spend generously to acquire the most intricate lace designs. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    A handmade treasure to be cherished for generations, Belgian lace is valued for its delicacy, intricacy and quality. Lace is woven from linen thread, and the natural color of unbleached lace is beige. This Galeries Royal St Hubert shop sells handkerchiefs, runners, christening gowns, and more.

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    Cobblestone Street

    ••• Generations ago, many of Brussels' butchers did business along this alley. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    It won't cost a Euro — Belgium's official currency since 2002 — to people watch. Have a passion for street life? Outdoor cafes line both sides of this cobblestone street off of Galeries Royal St Hubert.

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    Outdoor Café

    ••• Menus are often printed in French and another language. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Belgians have a passion for dining out, and the city's approximately 4,000 cafés and restaurants accommodate them with French and other fare.

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    Mussels in Brussels

    ••• Ten Euros for mussels and fries, which are another delicacy that originated in Belgium. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Eating mussels in Brussels is one of many culinary passions in this city. (You may want to avoid them in any month that does not have an R in its name.)

    Brussels is also credited with cultivating Brussels sprouts, although the vegetable has fewer fans than lovers of Belgian waffles, beer, fries, and chocolate.

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    Beer Temple

    ••• This shop in Brussels features all different types of beer and drinking paraphernalia. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Love beer and tasting a variety of different brews? Belgians are justly proud of the quantity (more than 400 varieties) and quality of their beer.

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    Belgian Beers

    ••• Dark beer, light beer, lager... what's your passion?. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Some of the many brands of Belgian beer at the Beer Temple, all of which are for sale.

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    Belgian Beer Glasses

    ••• Heaven help the bartender who pours a beer into the wrong glass. A sure case of someone needing a different kind of beer glasses. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Interestingly, every beer has a distinct glass into which it is intended to be poured. And you want to be proper, don't you?

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    Belgian Chocolate

    ••• Assortment by Mary Chocolates, which also has outlets throughout the world. U.S. stores include Boston and San Francisco. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Of the many passions in Belgium, chocolate is paramount. The city of Brussels is filled with chocolatiers, many of whom have been in business for generations.

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    Neuhaus Chocolates

    ••• The moment you enter the store, your senses will become intoxicated by the fragrance. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    One of the best-known of Belgium's top-quality chocolatiers, Neuhaus Chocolates maintains an elegant shop in Galeries Royal St Hubert.

    Neuhaus chocolates are meticulously made and beautifully packaged.

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    Artisanal Chocolate

    ••• Chocolates are displayed as if they were rare jewels. They do cost less. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    In addition to the big-name chocolatiers, Brussels supports numerous smaller ones who turn out creative batches of unique chocolates.

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    Belgian Waffles

    ••• Belgian waffles and ice cream in waffle cones are sold side by side at this vendor. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    And no trip to Brussels is complete without a serving of Belgian waffles, known as gaufre in French.

    How do you like your waffles? Sweet or savory, piled high with fruit and/or whipped cream, Belgian waffles are mouthwateringly good whether bought on the street or consumed in a Michelin-starred restaurant. If you use use the proper tool to create them at home and follow the recipe, each time you make them will help you picture a visit to this charming city.