Shot prior to and during a training session in the Old Center of Brussels, capital of Belgium. Many of the images were taken at Grand Place, dominated by the medieval Town Hall with its monumental gothic tower, and the Broodhuis (Breadhouse), officially renamed Maison du Roi (House of the  King) when Charles V became King of Spain in the early 1500s, but which retains the original name in popular usage.

Surrounding the two main buildings are the Guildhalls, which were originally built in the middle 15th century and rebuilt after the French bombardment of central  Brussels in 1695. There are also a number of images of the exterior of the magnificent St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral not far from Grand Place square.

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Rue de Colonies, Rue de Loxum 2961

This radiused style of building is common in the center of Brussels. Victor Horta, the premiere Belgian architect at the turn of the 20th c. and the key European Art Nouveau architect made curved facades and interiors popular, leading to Art Deco architecture styles.


St. Michael St. Gudula Cathedral 2966

At the end of this street is the Brabantine Gothic Cathedral of Saint Michael and St. Gudula, built between the 13th and 15th centuries. The sculptured exterior will be shown in greater detail further down the page.


Brussels National Bank detail 2999

A mood shot of part of the western facade.


Bourse Brussels detail 3223

Guilliame deGroot created niche sculptures for
the side facades of the Bourse (Stock Exchange).


Bourse Brussels detail 3215

Prudence and Vigilance, by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse.


Bourse Brussels detail 3230

The Bourse clock, by Victor de Haen.


Brussels Beenhouersstraat 3081

Rue de Bouchers is one of the market streets surrounding Grand Place. In the Middle Ages it was inhabited by sausage merchants, pork butchers, and “bouchers” (goat and mutton).


Toone Pub Theater 3284

A famous place in Petite Rue de Bouchers is the Toone pub and marionette theater. The building was built one year after the 1695 bombardment of the Grand Place by the French troops of Louis XIV.


Gaite Theater 3235


Brussels Busker 3211


Brussels Russian Buskers 3087


Brussels Russian Busker 3089


Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert 3064


Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert 3501

The 19th century glazed shopping arcade was designed in the Italian Cinquecento (15th c.) style after Vasari’s courtyard at the Uffizi in Florence. It replaced the poorly lit alleys and was built between 1846-47.

The Galleries are split into the Galerie du Roi (King), the Galerie de la Reine (Queen), and the side gallery (des Princes). One of the first indoor shopping malls, in the middle of the 19th c. they were the longest, highest, best lit galleries in the world due to their 200 meter long glass ceilings.


Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert 3085

Termination facade of the Galerie de la Reine.
Right is the similar facade of the Galerie du Roi.

The Galerie de la Reine is where the Swiss confectioner Jean Neuhaus invented the Praline. In the Galerie du Roi is where the first public showing of a motion picture occurred just after the Paris display in March 1896.

In 1951, the Galeries were demolished
and rebuilt to modern building standards.


Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert 3516


13th Century Tour Noire Brussels 3422

One of the few remaining parts of the 13th century walls of Brussels, the Black Tower was spared from the 16th century demolition because it could be used as a storage facility.

The Tour Noire is near the Grand Place, and just around the corner from St. Catherine’s Church.


St. Catherine 3397

Founded in the 16th century, the current church was built in 1854 by Joseph Poelaer, the architect who designed and built the Palace of Justice.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3544

Founded at the beginning of the 11th century, the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula
was originally a Romanesque church dedicated to the patron saint of Brussels, St. Michael.
In 1047 the Duke of Brabant had the relics of St. Gudula transferred to the church and it was
rededicated to both saints. The gothic choir was built between 1226 and 1276, and the nave
and transept were built in the middle of the 15th c. The facade was built between 1450-1490.
Built in Brabantine Gothic (a form of the gothic style specific to the Flemish Duchy of Brabant),
the construction of the cathedral spanned the entire period within which gothic architecture
was being developed until it was replaced by Renaissance architecture, and shows the
development of stylistic elements specific to the Brabantine Gothic architectural style.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3554


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 2993


Cardinal Mercier St. Gudula Cathedral 2972

Cardinal Mercier embodied the Belgian
resistance to the occupying Germans in WW I,
and he was a focus of some Allied propaganda.


Cardinal Mercier St. Gudula Cathedral 2977

He was also instrumental in getting Georges
LeMaitre to study Einstein (Georges LeMaitre’s
theories later developed into the Big Bang theory).


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3055

Shot with a polarizer to bring out the color
in the stone and definition in the clouds.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3053 detail

This detail image was taken without the
polarizer. Further below, I show two identical
shots taken with and without the polarizer to
show how it affects exposure and color
for shots of stone against a bright sky.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 2980

Sculptures in the arch above the left portal.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 2985

Sculptures in the arch above the right portal.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3052, 2984

The arch over the main portal with detail of the sculptures between the doors.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3052 detail (clip)

A 1358 x 1224 detail crop of the arch over the main portal shown in the left side
of the previous image. The arch has been clipped from the surrounding architecture
to reduce the file size, allowing a larger image size for detail examination while keeping
the file size reasonable. The file is still over 560 KB, but the 15th c. sculptures are worth it.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 2982 M

A large, M-sized (1306 x 1575, 667 KB) detail oblique of the main portal sculptures.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3003

A detail crop of St. Michael on the facade.
St. Michael is the patron saint of Brussels.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3008

Detail of some of the Gothic flying buttresses
supporting the apse at the rear of the cathedral.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3031CP, 3029

These two images were shot only 10 seconds apart, just long enough to screw on the
circular polarizer. The shot on the left (3031) is using the polarizer to darken the sky,
which increased contrast and saturation, allowing the color in the stone to be defined
without overexposing the sky. The apse exterior can be seen in the images below.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3020


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3022

This part of the church was built in the middle 1400s.

Below, a couple of shots of the facade at night.


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3577


St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral 3594


Grand Place
(Grote markt)


Grand Place 3107

Grand Place is the central market square of Brussels. The square is dominated by
the 15th century Town Hall with its Brabantine Gothic openwork tower. Surrounding the
square are houses that were built as the Guild Halls for the various craft guilds in Brussels.

The Town Hall was built first. The left wing was built between 1402 and 1420 with a medieval
belfry. When the craft guilds were added to the government, the building was expanded with the
right wing being added 1444-50. The Gothic tower, built from 1449-54, replaced the original belfry.
The facade is decorated with a number of statues which represent Belgian nobles, along with
saints and allegorical figures (the sculptures are reproductions of originals in the museum).

The Guild Houses were originally built between the 15th and 17th centuries in several
different styles. Opposite the Town Hall there used to be a wooden building where bakers
sold their bread (called the Broodhuis, or Breadhouse). This was replaced in the 15th c. by a
stone administration building for the Duke of Brabant, and was called the Maison du Duc. When
the Hapsburgs took over the Duchy the name was changed to Maison du Roi (House of the King).
Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor) rebuilt the Broodhuis in late Gothic style during his reign in the
16th century, and it was later rebuilt  in the late 19th century in neo-Gothic style as seen today.

In 1695, the French wanted to stop the siege of the French-occupied fortress of Namur,
and started a three-day bombardment of the center of Brussels, targeting the City Hall.
They succeeded in destroying the entire center of the city, leaving only a few walls
standing. The Grand Place was rebuilt in four years, and all plans for Guild Halls
had to pass the city administration, which resulted in a coherent look to the
houses on the square (even though they are built in different styles).


Le Mont Thabor, La Rose Grand Place 3100

These are two private houses on the left side of the section of the Grand Place that contains the Brewer’s Guild Hall. The 17th c. facades are typical of houses on the Grand Place.


La Rose, L’Arbre d'Or, Le Cygne Grand Place 3092

The Golden Tree, with the equestrian statue of Charles de Lorraine, was the Brewer’s Guild Hall. Le Cygne (the Swan) was the Butchers Guild Hall.


Guild Halls Grand Place 3116

Le Mont Thabor, La Rose, L’Arbre d’Or, Le Cygne and L’Etoile form the row
to the left of the Town Hall. They were built from 1698-1702, but L’Etoile was
demolished in 1852 to build a tramway. It was rebuilt (narrower) in 1897.


Le Cygne, L’Etoile, Town Hall 3097

L’Etoile is dedicated to Everard t’Serclaes.
Under the house is a monument to him (right).


Everard t’Serclaes 3383

Built at the turn of the 20th c. after L’Etoile
was rebuilt, the monument is very popular with
the people of Brussels due to a legend that says
if you rub the arm your wishes will come true.


Everard t’Serclaes 3380

As you can see, the arm is nearly worn through (it has required repair several times).
People also rub other parts of the statue and the angels as well as the dog and shield.

Everard  t’Serclaes was Lord of Cruyckembourg and a citizen of Brussels. When John III, Duke of Brabant, died in 1355, the succession of his daughter and her husband was disputed by the Count of Flanders, who invaded and occupied Brussels. In October 1356, t’Serclaes and a group of patriots scaled the city walls and drove the Count’s men from the city. He was later elected alderman five times.

In 1388 he stopped the Lord of Gaasbeek (who had his castle near Brussels) from suppressing the privileges of the citizens of Brussels. Later, when he was riding alone between Brussels and Lennik he was ambushed by the Bailiff of Gaasbeek and Gaasbeek’s bastard son, who chopped off one of his feet and cut out his  tongue. He was transported to L’Etoile,  where he later died. The citizens avenged his death by storming and destroying Gaasbeek castle. The sculpture of Serclaes on his deathbed was created by Jules Dillens and unveiled in 1905.


Broodhuis Grand Place 3127
(La Maison du Roi)

Originally the site of the wooden building used by the bakers to sell their bread, it
was created in stone as an administration building for the Duke of Brabant in 1504 by
Antoine Keldermans, of the famous Belgian architectural family who created and defined the
Brabantine Gothic style of architecture. Named the House of the Duke (Maison du Duc),
it was renamed Maison du Roi (House of the King) when the Hapsburgs took over the
Duchy of Brabant. It had fallen into disrepair over the centuries, and in 1873 it was
rebuilt in neo-Gothic style by Victor Jamaer, and houses the City Museum.

The locals still call it the Breadhouse (Broodhuis).


Broodhuis Grand Place 3129


Broodhuis Grand Place 3123

The Broodhuis facade, with and without people.


Broodhuis detail 3137


Broodhuis Grand Place 3156


Broodhuis Grand Place 3274

“Early Morning Gingerbread”. This shot was taken before the sun had hit the building.


Le Renard 3199

Allegories of the Continents flank a statue of Blind Justice on the
facade of Le Renard (The Fox), Guild House of the Haberdashers.


Le Renard 3149

Saint Nicholas stands above Le Renard.


Le Cornet Grand Place 3196

“The Horn”, Guild House of the Boatmen.


La Louve Grand Place 3191

A Phoenix stands atop La Louve (the She-Wolf), Guild Hall of the Archers.


La Brouette King of Spain 3162

La Brouette (Wheelbarrow) housed the Guild Hall of the Fat-Makers.
Le Roy d’Espagne (King of Spain) was the Guild Hall of the Bakers.


King of Spain Grand Place 3163

Le Roy d’Espagne (the King of Spain) was rebuilt in 1902, based on the original plans by Jan Cosyn. It houses a tavern and brasserie (restaurant). The name refers to Charles II, who in 1687 was the King of Spain and the southern Netherlands, which included Belgium. His is the bust on the facade (right).


King of Spain Grand Place 3135


King of Spain Grand Place 3208 M

An M-sized (1210 x 1580, 412 KB) detail shot of the dome of Le Roy d’Espagne.


Town Hall 3111

Old wing of the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) and Gothic Tower. At right is a detail crop of the Tower’s windows and turrets.


Town Hall 3119 M (900 x 1500)


Brussels Town Hall 3153


Gothic Arches Town Hall 3171


Town Hall Sculptures 3175

Detail of some of the sculptures to the
right of the main portal to the Town Hall.


Town Hall Portal detail 3276


Town Hall Portal detail 3189

Detail of the sculptures just to the left of the main portal to the Town Hall.


Town Hall Arch 3138

Sculptures above the main portal.


Town Hall Arch detail 3141 M

An M-sized (1813 x 1107, 435 KB) clip of the arch.

I clipped the arch from the architecture to allow me to post a size large enough
to show fine detail of the sculptures while still keeping the file size reasonable.


Town Hall Sculpture Detail 3178

Some of the allegorical figures.
These are below the major sculpture
groups, in front of the Town Hall entrances.


Town Hall Sculpture Detail 3182

Detail of the figures below the previous group.


Town Hall Sculpture Detail 3173


Town Hall Lion Detail 3173 RC

This is the lion below the sculpture group to the left,
rotated and cropped to allow detail examination.

Note the fellow about to get his throat slit
in the image at left, and check his expression.

These are wonderful medieval sculptures.
Below are shots of this group from the sides
(use the throat-slitting characters as a reference).


Town Hall Sculpture Detail 3177

The image above shows the same sculpture group from the right side.
Note the character who is about to get his throat slit, on the left (front).


Town Hall Sculpture Detail 3183

The left side of the small sculpture group shows a variety of medieval figures.
You can see the fellow about to get his throat slit on the right, and the lion below.


Brussels Town Hall 3633 M

A pair of M-sized images of the Tower at night.
Above, an oblique view (1120 x 1600, 500 KB)
At right, a front view (1030 x 1650, 427 KB).


Brussels Town Hall 3615 M


Brussels Town Hall 3607, 3390
1560 x 1313 (400 KB)

A composite with a frontal view and a close oblique.


Cinquantenaire Triumphal Arch 3437

For the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the Independent Kingdom of Belgium, the
Jubelpark or Parc du Cinquantenaire was created. Most of the buildings were created for
the 1880 National Exhibition. The Triumphal Arch was completed in 1905, and it acted as
the centerpiece for the Royal Military Museum (which has been here since 1880). It is the
widest and the 2nd highest Triumphal Arch in the world (after L’Arc de Triomph in Paris.

It is surrounded on both sides by a horseshoe-shaped arcade.
Atop the arch is a Roman-style Quadriga (a 4-horse chariot).

At the base of the triumphal arch are eight
allegorical sculptures of the Belgian Provinces.
Below are images showing four of these sculptures.


Allegory Cinquantenaire 3453


Allegory Cinquantenaire 3444


Allegory Cinquantenaire 3441


Allegory Cinquantenaire 3455


Allegory Cinquantenaire 3485


Allegory Cinquantenaire 3485 detail


M4A3E2 Sherman 3448

Below the arch, part of the Military Museum
is the M4A3E2 Sherman Tank, a special variant
with extra armor, including 4” in front of the turret
to protect the tank from the Tiger 88mm rounds.


M4A3E2 Sherman 3481

Nicknamed the Cobra King or the Jumbo, it
also had wider tracks and a special suspension
which gave a smoother ride. The limited variant
had some units fitted in the field with 76mm guns.


M4A3E2 Sherman 3472


For a detailed look at the best preserved medieval city in Europe,
click the display composite below to visit the Bruges Portfolio Section.