Walks - through the heart
The centre of Brussels is shaped like a heart, which we pierce from top to bottom. Along the way, we show how the city grew from a humble hamlet in the marshes to become first a Burgundian residence, and then the capital of Belgium.
The upper city around the Royal Palace is still the centre of power, with government buildings and embassies, wide avenues, squares laid out on rational principles and majestic parks. The lower city became a centre for trade and labour, with impressive guild houses and bustling market squares. It developed into a tourist attraction after the Second World War. Between the upper and lower cities, the north-south rail link runs like a scar through the old working-class districts. We end in the former port district around St Catherine’s church, at the lowest point in the Senne valley.
This walk gives you insight into the structure and soul of central Brussels. It lasts 3.5 hours (with a stop for a drink) and cannot be shortened due to the length of the route. Alternatives are The Emperor’s Clothes and Îlot Sucré.
Would you like a bike ride with the same theme? Through the Heart XL starts at the Parc du Cinquantenaire and passes through the Leopold Quarter and the city centre as far as the Canal in Molenbeek.
Four Contrasts in a Row is a good alternative for those already familiar with the centre. It takes in the same contrasts but runs through the Maalbeek valley.