Are you looking for the best views of Brussels? Here are some of the top spots to admire the myriad landscapes the capital has to offer.
Climb up and enjoy the sight! Choose a location and see the capital and its surroundings from a completely new perspective. Typical little red roofs, skyscrapers, treetops and bell towers make up the cityscape... The vantage points below are also spots worth checking out by hopeless romantics or would-be photographers.
(c) Alex Vasey
The view from Place Poelaert is a classic. As soon as the sun comes out, Brussels’ young residents flock here. No wonder, as the view of “Lower Brussels” is particularly beautiful at sunset. What can you see on the horizon? The Atomium, the Koekelberg Basilica and even the letters 'Hollywood' on a residential tower in Molenbeek. Did you know that the Law Courts were built here for strategic reasons? The Marolles, situated just below, was a somewhat rebellious neighbourhood at the time. With such a building towering above their heads, the inhabitants had no choice but to respect the law!
© visit.brussels - Eric Danhier
Mont des Arts
Another great classic among Brussels’ vantage points: the Mont des Arts. Make yourself comfortable at the top of the stairs, between the Mont des Arts and Place Royale, and simply enjoy the show. In the foreground, you have a front-seat view of the French-style gardens, whose colours change with the seasons. In the background, a panorama of the historic heart of Brussels, overlooked by the City Hall tower. This tower is 96m high! Tip: go to the fifth floor of the Royal Library or to the terrace of the Musical Instruments Museum for another view from the Mont des Arts.
But to what does it owe its name? The Mont des Arts was built gradually from the end of the 18th century around the palace of Governor Charles of Lorraine, which at that time housed numerous artistic and scientific collections. Gradually, the Royal Library (1795) and a departmental museum (under the French regime, in 1801) were installed there. In 1880, King Leopold II, wishing to make the upper part of the city an artistic hub, commissioned the architect Alphonse Balat to build a Palace for the Arts (the future Royal Museums of Fine Arts) to house various collections.
© Azamat Esmurziyev
The Cinquantenaire Arch
King Leopold II (yes him again!) was the man behind many of the capital's historic buildings. The Cinquantenaire Triple Arch is one of his exceptional commissions to celebrate 50 years of Belgian independence. The 45-metre high arch boasts a wonderful view of Brussels. How do you get there? Pay the entrance fee to the Museum of the Army and Military History and look for the staircase leading up to the top of the Arch. It's worth the effort! You’ll be met with a breathtaking view of the Cinquantenaire Park, the main thoroughfares, the European quarter and several Brussels bell towers.
© visit.brussels - Denis Erroyaux
The bridge above Tour & Taxis Park
Perhaps one of the most little-known vantage points in Brussels. And yet the bridge over Tour & Taxis Park also offers a great view over the city. The perspective not only takes in the greenery of the park, the history-laden Tour & Taxis site but also Brussels’ economic hub in the background. The skyline is dotted by buildings and towers worthy of Europe's largest urban and economic centres. What do you see? On the right, the Maritime Station, a recently renovated glass and steel giant, and the imposing Royal Warehouse. On the left, a strange building in the shape of a toaster. This is the eco-designed building of Brussels Environment. Further on, on the horizon, the Up-Site tower, the highest residential tower in the country, and the three skyscrapers of the World Trade Center in Brussels’ northern district.
© visit.brussels - Jean-Paul Remy
For a 360-degree view, the Atomium is the place to go. Climb up to the upper sphere, 92 metres high, to take in the panorama stretching out all around you. The seventh level of this strange building, erected for the 1958 World Exhibition, can even boast visibility as far as Antwerp when the weather is clear. What’s more, telescopes and signs are on hand to help you to identify the various buildings in Brussels. You can even find out how far you are from other major cities in the world. In addition to a breathtaking view of the region, you can also explore the various exhibition areas at the Atomium. There is a charge for admission.
© visit.brussels - Jean-Paul Remy
Another building, another vantage point. Let us now invite you to the top of the immense Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg, 52 metres high. This Art Deco masterpiece by architect Albert Van Huffel is not only physically impressive but will also win you over with its view over Brussels and its surroundings. On a clear day, you can even see the Sloping Lock of Ronquières, located in the province of Hainaut, and Mechelen Cathedral, located in the province of Antwerp.
The foundation stone of the Basilica was laid in 1905, but it was not until 65 years later, after two world wars, that the building was completed on 11 November 1970. Not to be missed!
© J-P Remy
Between the Congress Column and the Finance Tower there is a huge concrete slab. From here you can admire: the bell towers of the Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula, the tower of the City Hall, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg and the skyscrapers of Brussels’ northern district. A view that takes on a particular magic in fine weather and at sunset when the light and clouds are reflected on the surrounding glass towers.
And a last one for the road: the old Botanical Garden. While there is nothing really to climb, the sight is still one for sore eyes. Believe us, from the steps along the Rue Royale you have a contrasting view of the terraced gardens, the baroque buildings of the Botanical Garden with its rotunda and greenhouses, and, in the background, the glass giants of Brussels’ business hub. A patchwork that merges into a poetic vision.
© visit.brussels - Jean-Paul Remy
Situated south of Forest Park, Duden Park is a green oasis its own right. Duden Park’s dense woodland and undulating terrain lives up to the name of the surrounding municipality of Forest. One of the slopes even reaches 90 metres in altitude. From the northern slope, you have a wonderful view of square Lainé, Forest Park and the Law Courts.
In the Middle Ages, Duden Park was part of "Heegde wood", owned by the abbey of Forest, which, in turn, was part of the larger whole of Soignes forest. It then changed ownership several times before being bought in 1869 by Guillaume Duden (hence the name), a lace merchant. On his death, Guillaume Duden bequeathed the park to King Leopold II on condition that he transformed it into a public park.