Since its inception in 1971, the Grand-Place in Brussels, Belgium, comes alive every other year with a creative floral exhibition called the Floral Carpet that lasts for just four days.
The Grand-Place, itself, is a gorgeous square built in the 1400s and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. It is home to Brussels City Hall which has the best view of the Flower Carpet.
This year, the theme for the 21st edition of the Flower Carpet was Guanajuato, a state rich in culture that is located in Central Mexico.
The name Guanajuato means Mountainous Place of Frogs and they are represented on the carpet as well as other symbols and motifs of the culture and people of the area.
The Flower Carpet was designed by graphic designer Ana Rosa Aguilar Aguado and it is made up of over 500,000 begonias grown in Ghent, Belgium. The red and yellow colors used for the carpet are representative of the colors used in Chupícuaro (one of the indigenous groups) pottery.
The bird in the center of the carpet is one that can be seen in Otomi (one of the indigenous groups) embroidery. The purple pattern around the edge of the circle is in the style of Talavera, a type of pottery. The sun can also be seen in the center. It’s apparent that a lot of thought and care are put into the details of the carpet and it really comes though in the finished product.
We flew over to Brussels for a day trip with the sole purpose of seeing the Flower Carpet, eating, and of course, a bit of shopping! It was a long day with our flight leaving for Brussels at 6:30 am, but it was well worth feeling a bit tired for such a special day.
If you have the chance to visit Brussels around the time of the Flower Carpet, I highly recommend taking the opportunity to see it. It’s quite an impressive sight.
Suggestions For Viewing The Flower Carpet
- While anyone can view the carpet from the street for free it’s 100% worth purchasing tickets to see the carpet from the balcony at Brussels City Hall to get a birds eye view.
- I would highly suggest purchasing tickets in advance, online. We did, and it saved us at least an hour of waiting in a queue just to purchase tickets in person. By the time we arrived around 10:15 am the queue was already snaking out of the City Hall and around the corner.
- Go early in the day. The area gets very crowded.
What To Eat In Brussels
Because we literally only had a day to spend in Brussels we decided to forego the museums and such and we focused more on wandering the streets and seeking out traditional foods to eat!
Although we sampled chocolate all over the city we found that we most enjoyed the hand made delicacies from Mary Chocolatier.
The chocolates are not only delicious but pretty, too. We eat with our eyes and the chocolates at Mary definitely satisfy all of the senses.
Mary Chocolatier opened in 1919 and has held a Belgian Royal Warrant since 1942. All of their chocolates are handmade in Brussels. And they’re addictive.
Aside from those with allergies or who have a general dislike, to my mind there is nothing better than a tucking into a huge pot of mussels with fries and a cold beer to wash it all down with. We ate at Chez Leon, a Brussels institution that has been around since 1893.
The mussels here were perfectly cooked and were plump and full of flavor. We had both the mussels cooked in white wine and also tried mussels in curry sauce. The latter shined, in my opinion. The curry wasn’t strong or overly spicy but it gave a fantastic flavor to the mussels.
As if we hadn’t already had enough to eat, there was no way were could leave Brussels without stopping for a Belgian waffle. At Maison Dandoy, located in Galeries Royale St. Hubert, the waffles were crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. And because we were feeling particularly indulgent, we had ours served with ice cream.
It was without a doubt a decadent day filled with food. Good thing we were walking everywhere!
Things To See And Do In Brussels
As I stated before, we skipped the cultural sites to satisfy our stomachs but we did manage to pass by some interesting sites, along the way.
The name says it all!
Manneken Pis is a statue of a little boy urinating. It is a replica of one that was originally designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy the Elder in the 1600s.
The original can be seen in The Museum of the City of Brussels.
Designed in 1985 by Denis-Adrien Debouvrie, Jeanneke Pis is the counterpart to Manneken Pis.
There is also a dog statue called Het Zinneke that is along the same lines as Manneken Pis and Jeanneke Pis.
Galeries Royales St. Hubert
The Galeries Royales St. Hubert is a beautiful, light-filled arcade that has been around since the late 1840s. It is filled with cafes and the type of shops that make for fabulous window shopping. Or regular shopping…
I enjoyed perusing the books at Topismes Libraires where I found a Belgian foods cookbook to bring back with me as a souvenir. Do you have anything special that you like to collect on your travels? Let me know in the comments area below. I collect cookbooks in addition to items for my home. I read them like novels and I love to recreate recipes that we eat on our travels.
I also picked up some lace to frame from Manufacture Belge de Dentelles. As a knitter, I know how much time can go into a project so I can only imagine the efforts required to make lace.
Notre-Dame au Sablon Church (Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon)
We stumbled upon this church on our way to do some shopping on the Boulevard de Waterloo. I have a thing for churches so we stopped in to take a peek. I’m always in awe of how these structures were built entirely by hand.
Construction on the church was built in the 15th century and took about 100 years to complete.
The church has one of the most beautiful pulpits I have ever seen with incredible detail.
My favorite view was definitely the back of the church, though. With the light pouring in it was a pretty sight to see.
Place du Petit Sablon
Located directly across the street from Notre-Dame au Sablon, Place du Petit Sablon was a nice space to people watch for a bit before making continuing our journey.
There were signs of autumn in the trees as they were starting to change color.
After sitting a spell in the square we continued on our way to Boulevard de Waterloo for a bit of shopping before finally making our way back to the airport to fly home. We left exhausted but grateful we were able to have the day to spend in Brussels.
Is there anything that you like to collect along your travels? Let me know in the comments area below.
Thanks for reading! Cheers!