Top 10 historic attractions in Brussels

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Book a Brussels hotel to discover a city of soaring Gothic cathedrals and guild houses, Art Deco taverns and evocative Flemish art. Slip back in time with this guide to the best of historic Brussels.

Guild houses on the Grand Place

Nothing says historic Brussels like the Gothic and baroque guild houses on the cobbled Grand‘Place. Look out for the one-time brewers' guild, The Golden Tree, at number 10, the former tallow makers' guild, The Wheelbarrow, at number 2 and The Bag, once home to cabinet-makers and coopers, at number 4.

Grand Place, 1001 Brussels

Time travel at the Brussels City Museum

The neo-Gothic Maison du Roi (King's House) houses the Brussels City Museum, which spells out the city's gripping history in a collection of gold, paintings and tapestries. Fashion fans should check out the Mannekin Pis statue's expansive wardrobe of 800 costumes on the third floor.

Grand Place, 1001 Brussels

History uncovered at the Mannekin Pis

He may be just 61cm tall, but the famous Mannekin Pis peeing boy statue has earned his place in history. Despite being kidnapped twice in the 18th century and smashed to pieces in the 19th century, Mannekin Pis still pees proudly today and has become Brussels' humorous mascot.

Rue de l'Étuve, 1000 Brussels

Art Nouveau grace at the Horta Museum

Once the home and studio of acclaimed Belgian architect Victor Horta, his namesake museum epitomises the romance of early 19th-century Art Nouveau. Sweep up twisting iron staircases to explore rooms full of curving stained glass, graceful furniture and artworks evocative of the age.

Rue Américaine 25, 1060 Brussels

Gothic beauty at the Town Hall

If walls could talk, the Gothic Town Hall on the Grand’Place would tell tales of medieval guildsmen, Hapsburg dukes and stampeding French invaders. Lace-fine turrets and stonework guide the eye to the gilded statue of St Michael, Brussels' patron saint. See the Town Hall glow gold by night before returning to your Brussels hotel.

Grand Place, 1000 Brussels

Contemplating the Cathedral of St Michel and Gudule

Inspired by Paris' Notre Dame, the gothic Cathedral of St Michel and Gudule sits on a hilltop overlooking Brussels. Seek reflection in the vaulted interior, lit by 16th-century stained-glass windows, and the Romanesque crypt. The cathedral reverberates to Gregorian chant at 10a.m. Sunday mass.

Parvis Sainte-Gudule, 1000 Brussels

The past in a beer glass at A La Mort Subite

A La Mort Subite (Sudden Death) bar evokes the glamour of Art Deco with its polished dark wood tables, globe lights and brass mirrors. Take a pew in one of Brussels' most historic taverns for a lambic or cherry- sweet kriek beer.

Rue Montagne-aux-Herbes Potagères 7, 1000 Brussels

Art through the ages at Cinquantenaire Museum

The Cinquantenaire Museum is a treasure-trove of artefacts and applied arts. Housed in a 19th-century pavilion, the collection revisits Ancient Egypt with a 4,500-year-old Saqqarah tomb, Rome with intricate mosaics, and 15th-century Belgium with ornate altarpieces.

Parc du Cinquantenaire 10, 1000 Brussels

Revisiting the Renaissance at the Erasmus House

Glide back to the Renaissance and times of religious turmoil at the little-known redbrick Erasmus House, where the great scholar and theologian Erasmus lived in 1521. A visit takes in oil paintings, Albrecht Dürer prints and Erasmus' early manuscripts.

Rue du Chapître 31, 1070 Brussels

Old Masters at the Museum of Ancient Art

Trace history on canvas at the outstanding museum. Among the 15th-18th-century works are standouts by Flemish masters. Take time to appreciate Rubens' vivid baroque canvases, Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder's colourful peasant scenes and Hieronymus Bosch's inventive altar paintings.

Rue de la Régence 3, 1000 Brussels