Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Brussels, the capital of the kingdom of Belgium, and the chief town of South Brabant, is about 50 miles from the sea, 27 from Antwerp, and 193 from Paris. It is on the top and sides of a hill sloping down towards the little river Senne, which is now arched over; and besides being the centre of the Belgian railway system, which keeps it in touch with France, Germany, and England, it has canals connecting it with Charleroi and the Sambre, and with Antwerp by way of the Rupel, which communicates with the Scheldt at Rupelmonde a few miles above Antwerp. The cradle of the city was a little marshy island called Broeksel, close to the Senne, where there was a church in 610; but it has now grown and extended so as to form with its suburbs a population of about 520,000. The town is divided into the Old or Lower Town, and the new or Upper, Which is approached by the street Montagne de la Cour. The lower town is the more ancient, and from an archaeological point of view the more interesting, and naturally the more unhealthy; the Upper Town contains most of the public buildings, and the fashionable part of the community. The old fortifications now form a series of boulevards surrounding the town, and a circular railway leads from the chief stations of the north and south to the station de Luxembourg, which terminates the line from Namur, Arlon, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Brussels is sometimes called a miniature Paris, and Paris is the city which it takes as a model; and though the park at Brussels with its Wauxhall cannot rival the Bois of Paris, it is not without its charms. The Grande Place, with its market and its noble town hall, and surrounded by buildings dating from the Spanish occupation, was the scene of the execution of Counts Egmont and Hoorn, and the Place des Martyrs contains the monument commemorating those who fell in the revolution of 1830. The king's palace is near the park, and a fine street leads from the Place Royale to the new Palais de Justice, one of the finest buildings in Europe, which cost more than £2,000,000. Its surroundings are not yet all that could be desired, since it is situated in a somewhat squalid part of the city; these are being gradually cleared away, and doubtless the quarter will try to live up to the Palais. The terraces of the Palais command a splendid view of the country round Brussels especially in the direction of Soignies, Groenendael, and Waterloo. The Place de la Monnaie contains the Mint, the Exchange, and the Theatre de la Monnaie. The church of St. Gudule is of the 13th century, and was the scene of the meeting of the first chapter of the Golden Fleece. Its carved pulpit is a wonderfully elaborate structure, and is considered to be the masterpiece of Verbruggen. Brussels has many good fountains and other public monuments, among which is the quaint little Mannekin Pis, who is said to be the oldest citizen of the town, and wears a special dress upon gala days. The Allee Verte in the Lower Town is an agreeable promenade, which runs parallel with the Mechlin canal, and leads towards Laeken, where the royal family chiefly reside. A visit to Brussels would not be complete without seeing the Musee Wiertz, in the Quartier Leopold, containing the weird pictures of the most eccentric of Belgian painters. The Quartier Marollien, too, is worth a visit if it is only to hear the curious patois, said to be a mixture of Spanish, Flemish, English, and Walloon, and throwing a curious light on the past history of Brussels. The town is of considerable manufacturing importance, among its industries being the making of steam-engines and railway material, refining of sugar, the working of cotton and wool, porcelain, and the brewing of beer, especially the noted Lambic and Faro. The Brussels carpets are chiefly made elsewhere; but a good deal of Brussels lace is really made in Brussels and the neighbourhood. There is also a good deal of carriage building. It was under Charles V. that Brussels became the capital of the Netherlands; and for the fifteen years between the downfall of Napoleon and the revolution, the Hague and Brussels were alternately the seat of government.