Once again we are obliged to speak of the king known by the Belgians as "le roi bâtisseur", that is, the builder king. If you think we are talking about Leopold II, you're right. The list of works ordered to be built by this king is huge and not only in Brussels, but also in Antwerp and Ostende, with great examples such as Antwerp Central Station or the hippodrome and the Royal Galleries of Ostende.
The Palace of Justice of Brussels was at that time the largest building in the world. It took only seventeen years to build it, from 1866 to 1883; what is remarkable is that from the year 2000 the building has scaffolding around it and it has already been said that the restoration works will last more than the construction works.
In front of the Palace lies Poelaert Square, in honour of the architect who designed the building, which is 104 metres high, it has hundreds of rooms, courtyards and eight kilometres of corridors. He did not see his masterpiece completed and he was said to have become crazy by designing it. From the northwest side of Poelaert Square we can see, in the foreground, the district of Les Marolles, where ethere is a flea market every day between 7am and 14pm the in the Place du Jeu de Balle, or Ball Game Square. You can find here authentic relics. This viewpoint is on the verge of one of the few remaining parts os Brussels separating the upper town of the lower city. Also, you go down from the viewpoint to the district of Les Marolles by using a lift, accessible to everyone and free of charge.
Now if we lift up our eyes we will see a huge glass tower 148 metres high, is the Tour du Midi, a skyscraper built in the 60s which houses offices of the Belgian government . But tourists may be interested in the fact that, as a beacon, it indicates the way to Brussels South Station or Bruxelles-Midi where you can take the high-speed Eurostar train to London, Paris or Disneyland; the journey lasts around two hours to the two capitals and two hours into the domains of Micky Mouse.
From here are also visible the Basilica of Koekelberg, the Atomium or tour of Brussels City Hall, topped by a five-metre golden statue of the city's patron, St. Michael the Archangel. We can also see from here the church of Our Lady of the Chapel, a Gothic basilica with a Baroque bell tower that was once an important centre of pilgrimage since it had to a relic composed of five fragments of the Christ’s Cross.
If you want to go shopping, at the other end of Poelaert Square starts Louise Avenue, the street of the great brands: Tiffany & Co., Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Gucci, Ralph Lauren…
If you are looking for museums, then continue down the street right outside the front door of the Palace of Justice, the Rue de la Regence, which will bring you to the church of Our Lady of Sablon, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Museum of Ancient Art at the Fin de Siècle Museum, the Magritte Museum, the Belvue Museum, the Coudenberg Museum and the Museum of Musical Instruments. You can see the Royal Palace at the end of the street.
Therefore, it is a highly recommended visit, whether the views, museums, shops, the district of Les Marolles or simply to visit The Palace of Justice. In the Palace you can enjoy its monumental columns, pillars and pilasters that will bring you back in time to the days of ancient Rome thanks to the way Joseph Poelaert designed this stunning Neoclassical building.
The viewpoint is accessible for free. The Palace of Justice: Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 17:00h. Closed on weekends and holidays.
- Free entrance.
Poelaert Square 1, 1000, Brussels.
HOW TO GET TO THE PALACE OF JUSTICE IN BRUSSELS
- Metro: Louise, lines 2 and 6.
- Tram: Lines 92 and 94.