Grand Place at oh-dark-thirty

Grand Place at oh-dark-thirty

Grand Place in Brussels Belgium at sunrise.  The loveliest town square in the world without another soul around.

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Nightfall in Brussels

Nightfall in Brussels

A moody interpretation of a street scene from one of my favorite European cities, Brussels...

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A bit of this and that from Brussels

A bit of this and that from Brussels

Here it is - a monster post about Brussels, Belgium!  It's one of my favorite places - hey, it's famous for chocolate and beer, so what do you expect?  I've got 20 photos in here, so click in for a look and have a read too.  I ramble a bit about how these posts come about too, in case you were wondering.  Anyways, hope you enjoy the photo tour of Brussels!  It's a wonderful place!

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Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

I would be more interested in shopping if all the shopping galleries looked like this one!

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The amazing architecture of Grand Place

I love Grand Place - so much awesomeness in such a small place!

Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium is definitely a "must-see" place for everyone, as far as I am concerned.  It's the historic town square of Brussels, and is so incredibly beautiful that you will be forgiven if your jaw drops the first time you see it.  It's quite a sight to behold.

Truthfully, I feel the same way every time I see it.  It's just incredible. It's not a large town square, but the incredibly detailed and beautiful facades of these guildhalls surround you on every side, towering over you yet not feeling intimidating.  It's just awesome.  You have to go there.

The only problem is that EVERYONE goes there.  It's crowded at all times of day and into the night.  So I did the only thing I could think to do: get up early and shoot it.  I purposefully chose a hotel just a short walk away, and set my alarm for early enough to be there before sunrise.  

I got an empty town square, except for a few random folks here and there.  But it was basically deserted.  You see, that's the reason I get up early in places like this.  All the tourists are still asleep, so I can peacefully shoot away to my heart's content, and enjoy the stillness in a place that is not otherwise still.  Well worth a little lost sleep!

A bar in Grand Place

Me, my camera, and an empty Grand Place!

On my recent trip to Brussels, one of my main goals was to get up early and get a bunch of shots in and around Grand Place (their historic town square) before it got all crowded.  And believe me, that place gets crowded.  Like, really crowded.

So I did just that, and I am really glad that I sacrificed some sleep that day.  It was well worth it.  I had the town square literally to myself.  It was amazing.  It's hard to describe how big of a deal that is, unless you have been there and seen it.

There were no crowds.  There were no hordes of tourists.  There was not really any noise.  It was quiet, dark, and beautiful.  I loved it.

So in addition to a bunch of wide angle goodness, I also grabbed some shots like this one.  I love all the little bars and restaurants there...so much character.

The grand expanse of Grand Place

Brussels might be my favorite town in Europe - what's yours?

There is just SO much to love about Brussels, Belgium.  It's an incredible city full of beautiful architecture, delectable chocolate, and more beer choices than you can shake an empty glass at.  It really is fabulous, and I am thrilled that I got to visit there recently.

One of the many great things about the city is Grand Place, which is their incredible town square.  As I said here before, I have no doubt it is the most beautiful town square in the world.  You can't convince me otherwise - don't even try.  :-)

I grabbed this super wide angle view of it one evening.  I had been shooting, then got rained on and waited out the rain while sipping a beer in a nearby bar.  Once the rain stopped, it was full on into blue hour and I ventured the 100 feet or so to this spot to grab this shot.

There's really no way (unless you can get above Grand Place I guess) to get a full shot of the square, as it is pretty tight in there and that main building seriously rises into the sky.  But I can say that thus far, this shot is the one I have that does the best job of showing you the square.  I hope I get to go back and try again some other time!

The facade of Brussels Cathedral

Do you love church architecture as much as I do? 

There are few things I like more than shooting churches in Europe.  I am not sure why I like them so much, but I really do.  They just possess so much awesomeness.  Obviously I am a fan of architecture, but it runs deeper than that.  I'm a fan of the creation of these things and the skill it took to design them.  Considering that most are hundreds of years old (or more), I find it incredibly impressive they could accomplish such things back then - and that they still stand today.   

Look at the details in the facade.  This wasn't just "stack stones one on top of the other until it is this high" or something that basic.  It's sophisticated.  It's complex.  It's beautiful.  There is so much attention to detail that it baffles me.  This was done without the aid of computers or the machines we use now for design and creation.  This was done by humans.  

I'm constantly amazed at things like this.  I can buy something these days that was designed, engineered and constructed with the finest raw materials, and I bet it doesn't last 5 years.  This thing has been there for hundreds.  Awesomeness. 

And in case you missed it, the interior detail of the ceiling and more can be seen on this post from a little while ago. 

The cathedral in Brussels

The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

This is one beautiful cathedral, and I am very happy to have found it on my recent trip to Brussels.  I passed through Brussels last year and despite shooting quite a bit of the town, I never actually saw this cathedral (or knew about it, honestly).  I'm not sure how I missed it, but am glad that I corrected it when I was there a couple of weeks back. 

It sits just a short stroll from Grand Place, which is the historic town square in Brussels and which was the subject of my photo 2 days ago here on the blog.  I did a Google search and found this one, and then Google Maps let me know it was just a short walk from my hotel.  Perfect! 

I arrived late in the afternoon, because I checked for their closing time on the web. That's something I always do - try and plan your visit for shortly before closing time. There are usually much smaller crowds then.

But of course in this photo, you couldn't see anyone anyways since I was looking up.  I love shooting architecture, and especially in European churches, and this one was just stunning.  Be sure and visit when in Brussels, and remember it's close to Grand Place! 

Blue hour in Grand Place

My last few weeks have been a bit crazy.  I was in Glasgow (and have shared quite a few shots from there already) and then went to London (haven't even processed any of those yet).  I was then home for a week, then back across the pond, this time to Amsterdam (I have shared a few) and Brussels (starting with this photo).   Oh yeah, then I spent a day in Nashville.  Almost forgot about that.  :-)

So it is safe to assume that I have a lot of photos to get to, when I can find the time.  Ah, time.  Where do you go?  

Anyways, before I start to wax poetic here on the blog, I better get back in focus and talk about this shot.  This is Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium which is without a doubt the most beautiful town square in the entire world. I'm not kidding.  Clearly I haven't seen them all, but I have seen this one several times and it freakin' dominates.  It's a jaw-dropper the first time you walk into the square. 

When I found out that Brussels was one of my destinations, I was pretty excited because despite it being somewhat small and having a compact historic city center, I find it to be one of my favorite towns in Europe.  It's just beautiful.  It's helped a little by the fact that they are famous for chocolate and beer, which are two of my favorite things, and both are incredible there.  Ok, maybe that helps a lot.  

But just standing there and looking at this site is something everyone should do.  And if you can get up early enough to beat the crowds (and believe me, they are HUGE) then you can get a shot like this one.  I think this was about 6:30am and though I saw a couple of people and a street cleaner while there, it was nearly all mine.  It was awesome.