This picturesque country is very rich with great architecture. It is even hard to single out which architecture here is the most impressive and interesting – be it Romanesque and Gothic churches, extremely well-preserved castles and palaces, or the magnificent Art Nouveau jewels. The most impressive wonders of Belgium are:
- Historical cities and towns – many cities and towns here have well preserved (or carefully rebuilt) medieval centers but few cities in the world can rival the beauty of Bruges and the magnificent Grand Place in Brussels.
- Castles and palaces – there are several thousands of castles and manors in Belgium and many have outstanding architecture. Often these castles are surrounded by beautiful gardens. It is hard to single out the best among the best, but Gravensteen in Ghent is one of the most impressive castles in the world while Freÿr Castle and its gardens provide some of the most impressive sights of human-made landscaping anywhere.
Map with the described wonders
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Top 25 wonders of Belgium
Historic Centre of Bruges
Once an important trade center, this city has almost intact medieval architecture and numerous canals. The site of the first stock exchange (1309) and numerous important financial institutions.
The central square of Brussels, one of the most beautiful city squares in the world. It is surrounded by gorgeous medieval structures, a town hall among them. These structures were built in the late 17th century. Especially impressive the square is at the beginning of August when it is covered with intricate flower carpet.
Unique exhibition complex with nine spheres united by 3 m wide tubes and forming an enormous, 102 m tall representation of the cell of an iron crystal. Constructed for Expo 58 in 1958.
One of the oldest cities in Belgium with numerous very old buildings in Romanesque and Gothic styles. Here are some of the oldest private houses in Europe that were built in 1175 and 1200 in Romanesque style.
Well-preserved castle in the center of Ghent. Castle has a fortification wall and a castle in the middle. Constructed in 1180.
Brussels Town Hall
Sumptuous structure in Flamboyant Gothic style, constructed in 1402 – 1420. The tower is 96 m tall, the facade is adorned with numerous sculptures.
Antwerp City Hall
Ornate city hall, built in 1561 – 1564 (when Antwerp was fabulously rich). One of the forerunners of the Northern Renaissance style that left a profound influence on the development of architecture in this part of Europe.
The largest church in Belgium, an outstanding landmark. One of the greatest achievements in Romanesque architecture although part of the church is also in Gothic style. Built in 1110 – 1255.
Leuven Town Hall
Unusual building in Brabantine Late Gothic style. Its facade is adorned with stone lace.
Bruges Town Hall
Old, Gothic-style town hall, built in 1376 – 1421. Beautiful facade.
Gorgeous town, stretched along the River Meuse and a large cliff. The small town has an impressive Gothic church and the impressive Citadel of Dinant above the town, on the cliff.
Belfry of Bruges
A gorgeous bell tower, 83 m tall. Constructed around 1240 and rebuilt around 1280.
Ghent Old City
Well-preserved medieval center of once very rich city. Numerous great structures have been preserved including a complex of magnificent Gothic towers.
Most likely this is the very first building in the Art Nouveau style. It is designed by Victor Horta and built in 1893 – 1894.
Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula
Magnificent Gothic cathedral, built in 1226.
Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent
Large cathedral in Gothic style, built in the 14th – 16th century. Contains the Ghent Altarpiece – a masterpiece by Jan van Eyck and Hubert van Eyck, one of the greatest works of the Northern Renaissance.
St. Rumbold’s Cathedral in Mechelen
Great Gothic cathedral, built in 1200 – 1520, with magnificent and unfinished, 97 m tall tower. It was planned to be 167 m tall, the tallest in the world.
Ypres Cloth House
One of the largest commercial buildings in medieval Europe, 125 m wide, with a 70 m tall belfry. Originally built in Gothic style in the 13th century – 1304, rebuilt in 1933 – 1967.
Horta Museum (Maison & Atelier Horta)
House of the distinguished architect Victor Horta, built in Art Nouveau style in 1898 – 1901. The ornate interior and numerous household items have been well preserved or restored, the museum contains also numerous other Art Nouveau-style items.
An impressive medieval castle, well preserved. Built in the 13th century, water castle.
An outstanding example of Art Nouveau architecture, created by Victor Horta who designed every detail including furniture, carpets, doorbell. Built in 1898 – 1900.
Mountaintop castle that rises above the town of Bouillon, for the most part, built in the 11th century.
Church of Our Lady in Bruges
Enormous church in Gothic style, built from brick. Its tower is 122.3 m tall. Constructed mainly around 1270 – 1280, with some later additions. Contains a sculpture by Michelangelo.
Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal)
Magnificent Gothic cathedral with a 123 m tall belfry. Built in 1352 – 1521. One of the towers has not been completed. Contains valuable artworks by Rubens and other artists.
Fine, well-preserved water castle. It was built around 1450 – 16th centuries and rebuilt in later times.
Stroll through the bustling city streets, explore the Caves of Hotton, and visit the Euro Space Center when you travel to Belgium and Luxembourg. See history, art, and more in these unique and vibrant countries.
Inside Rick Steves Belgium: Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp & Ghent you’ll find:
– Comprehensive coverage for spending a week or more exploring Belgium
– Rick’s strategic advice on how to get the most out of your time and money, with rankings of his must-see favorites
– Top sights and hidden gems, from the European Parliament and Flanders Fields to boutique breweries and cozy cafés with perfect Belgian fries.