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Brussels

The historical center of Brussels, encircled with the boulevard ring on the site of the ancient city walls, has preserved its medieval layout which was improved in the 19th century. The Centre is divided into two parts. The Lower Town has always been a center of trade, craft, and industry. While the Upper Town is known as the area of ??palaces and park complexes of the king and the aristocracy where the most famous tourist attractions are concentrated. The districts of the Belgian capital have largely retained their functions. The difference is, however, that now the Lower Town houses the stock exchange, banks, shopping malls, and hotels, and the Upper Town has government agencies, the headquarters of the European Commission, and numerous museums.

The heart of the Lower Town and one of the main attractions of Brussels is a large square, the famous Grand Place, where the majestic City Hall stands as a masterpiece of Gothic architecture of the first half of the 15th century. In 1450, the City Hall was crowned with a 90-meter high lookout tower and a statue of St. Michael, the patron of Brussels. Opposite the City Hall, there is the "Royal House" where, despite its name, no king has ever lived. The house was a baking warehouse, tribunal and a prison. Built by order of Emperor Charles V, the "Royal House" and the City Hall are the main attractions of the ensemble of this huge square. In 1873, the building was renovated in the Gothic style, and nowadays it is home to the Brussels municipal museum.

Continuing to enjoy the sights of Brussels, one turns a little away from the central square and to the world-famous fountain "Manneken Pis" which is a symbol of Brussels. According to the legend, centuries ago, one little boy saved the city from fire in such an extravagant way. In addition, the Pissing Boy is the owner of the wardrobe consisting of more than 2000 attires stored in the municipal museum of Brussels (the "Royal House"). These clothes, national costumes in particular, are traditionally put on the figure during the visits of foreign politicians.

Downtown Brussels has a great number of other attractions. For example, here is the oldest in Europe neo-Renaissance shopping mall, St. Hubert Gallery, which was opened in 1847 by King Leopold I. Today, it also offers expensive boutiques and cozy cafes.

The most notable place in the Upper City district is the Royal Palace which is now the official residence of the king of Belgium. Previously the seat of Parliament, it also included the Royal Academy surrounded by the splendid Brussels Park. Next to the entrance to the Royal Palace, one finds an equestrian monument to Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine, and one of the leaders of the first Crusade.

One more famous symbol of Brussels is a one hundred-meter steel model of a crystal of iron which is called "Atomium". For the city of Brussels, Atomium is somewhat like the Eiffel Tower for Paris. Popular scientific expositions are placed in each of the huge interconnected spheres.

Nearby, there is a museum of "Mini Europe", which brings together models of the most famous European landmarks at 1:25 scale. Another recognizable landmark of Brussels is Arc de Triomphe which was erected to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the independence of Belgium and is crowned with the national flag. Continuing to describe the attractions of Brussels, it is worth mentioning the Palace of Parliament located deep in the Brussels Park. And, of course, the well-known fact is that Brussels is home to the headquarters of the EU supreme body of executive power, the European Commission, and often welcomes sessions of European Parliament.