The Best UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Brussels

The Grand Place
The Grand Place | © Brussels Panorama, Steve Collis/ Wiki Commons
Ayla Sileghem

There are buildings and sites that are worth a visit soley based on their historical significance and original beauty. In fact, those that meet a specific list of historical and cultural criteria can earn their status as a World Heritage Site and be protected and conserved by the branch of the United Nations entitled, UNESCO. Belgium has no shortage of buildings that contribute to this list – including many in the capital. Find out which sites have gained the World Heritage Site status, and the ones that are waiting to be approved.

The Grand Place

It’s not hard to see why this town square is a popular attraction for tourists. From the flamboyant guild houses to the tall 15th century Town Hall, the scenery is certainly picture-pretty. The Town Hall is worth a visit due to its historical significance and ornate designs, which include the many statues decorating its walls. From the middle ages to contemporary time, the Town Hall has a tale or two to tell. The Grand Place is also the home of La Maison du Roi or Het Broodhuis – a historical building that is now a popular museum.
This town square qualified as a UNESCO site resulting from the way it effortlessly blends the different architectural and artistic styles that are typical of the region. The Grand Place is also a great example of how an historically merchant city grew into prosperity, while remaining true to its original shape and style. The Grand Place hasn’t changed much since 1695.

Grand Place by night

Victor Horta’s Town Houses

Tassel House Stairway

Stoclet Palace

After the height of the Art Nouveau period, a new building style entered the world of architecture. The Stoclet Palace is a cavernous private house, commissioned in the 20th century by banker Adolphe Stoclet. The architect, Josef Hoffmann, was given an artistic and financial carte blanche by the owner. The result is a building that marks the ending of Art Nouveau and the beginning of the more sober Art Deco. Many artists helped realize this project, including Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Frantz Metzner, Richard Luksch, and Michael Powolny.
Despite not being a public building, the Stoclet Palace has made it to the World Heritage list because it’s a well conserved example of Western aesthetics at the beginning of the 20th century.

Palais Stoclet

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

The perfect place to go window-shopping while enjoying architectural ingenuity. The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is a 19th century indoor shopping district representing an ornate Italian style of architecture and design. The gallery itself is made up of three different parts – the King’s Gallery, Queen’s Gallery, and the Gallery of the Princess. Located in the heart of Brussels near the Rue de Bouchers, the Central Station and the Grand Place, it remains a frequently visited destination. The gallery is not officially a World Heritage site, but it is waiting to be added to the list, which could take five to ten years.

Galeries Royales St. Hubert

Palace of Justice

Not a palace for royals, but one for judges and lawyers. The Palace of Justice is the most important court building in Belgium. The architect was Joseph Poelaert, who also restored the Théatre Royal de la Monnaie and built the Church of Sainte-Cathérine and the Church of Our Lady of Laeken. Commissioned by the Belgian government, it was a costly endeavor, and resulted in part of the Marolles neighborhood being demolished to make room for the building.
Located on the macabre Galgenberg (‘gallows mountain’) hill, the neoclassical and eclectic building is an architectural beauty. Currently undergoing extensive restorations, it too is currently on the Tentative List – a mandatory step before it can attain the official World Heritage designation.

Palais de la Justice

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article