Brussels Half Marathon

European capital and birthplace of Jean-Claude Van Damme. How can you fail to fall in love with the city's wonders? To mark the Brussels Half Marathon, Finishers takes a look at the most beautiful places in Brussels.

The 18th edition of the Brussels Half-Marathon kicks off on October 1st. For this occasion, we've put together a little guide highlighting the monuments, buildings, and iconic spots you'll get to admire along the way. Get your sunglasses ready – you're in for some spectacular views! 😍

From start to finish, the city will unravel before you!

© Place de Brouckère / Wikimedia Commons

Place de Brouckère: Your race's starting line📍

This is one of the most beautiful, ancient, and prestigious squares in the Belgian capital! Located in the city center, Place de Brouckère is the perfect spot to kick off your half-marathon journey🏃‍♀️. With its wide range of shops and restaurants, not to mention the National Theatre of Belgium, this square boasts stunning Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Belle Époque, and modern buildings. It's a sight that will surely inspire you to snap some photos 😉. And we bet you'll be back to enjoy a beer here after completing your 21 km run 🍻. 

© Basilica of Koekelberg / Wikimedia Commons

National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg 💘: the 2nd stop

Your next stop on the Brussels half-marathon will bring you face to face with a historical monument: The Koekelberg Basilica, the fifth largest church in the world! It commemorates the 75th anniversary of the country's independence, making it a significant landmark in both the Brussels skyline and the hearts of the capital's residents 🫶. King Léopold I initiated the construction of this impressive and unique building following a visit to the Sacré-Coeur in Paris. However, it's not a copy! This monumental work, standing 89 meters tall and 167 meters wide, showcases the distinctive Art Deco style. It's definitely worth a detour, right Snowy? 🐶 Plus, the basilica is located right across from the Elizabeth Park, a majestic 21-hectare park that will surely refresh you as you continue on your journey!

© Our Lady of Laeken / Wikimedia Commons

⛪ The Church of Our Lady of Laeken: More than halfway there!

Your half-marathon is progressing well: you've just passed through the King Baudouin Park and are approaching the Laeken Park. Nestled between these two green spaces lies the royal Church of Our Lady of Laeken. Commissioned by King Léopold I in memory of his wife, the Queen Louise-Marie of Orléans, this church is arguably the most significant in the country as it houses the necropolis of the Belgian royal family 🇧🇪. Indeed, all Belgian sovereigns who have passed away since 1850 are buried here! This monument serves as a gateway to the History of Belgium and is a masterpiece of the Gothic Revival style. Interestingly, it was consecrated by Pope Leo III alongside Emperor Charlemagne (how exciting! 🐓). In 1854, Léopold I himself laid the first stone of the new edifice. However, the project was only completed much later due to several setbacks related to the church's structure, the composition of its stones, financial constraints, and disagreements among the architects. Architecture enthusiasts are in for a treat! 😍

© Laeken Castle / Pixabay

The Laeken Castle: The royal residence 🏰

While the English boast Buckingham Palace, the Belgians take pride in the Laeken Castle! 👑 Since 2013, it has been the residence of King Philippe, his wife Queen Mathilde, and their four children. Located in the north of the city, opposite the Laeken Park and near the Church of Our Lady of Laeken, rest assured, it's possible to visit! This tour will surely share fascinating stories with you... Did you know Emperor Napoleon gifted the castle to his first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, as compensation for the Élysée Palace? Indeed, Laeken Castle was once French! 🇫🇷 The palace's design, in the neoclassical style, was even conceived by Napoleon. We hope this magnificent view gives you the boost needed to continue your race! 🔋

© Atomium / Wikimedia Commons

🪩 The Atomium: The penultimate stop

We know you're already burstingwith anticipation. The monument you've been most looking forward to is finally within reach, but it arrives almost at the very end of your race. At this point, you're likely eager to cross the finish line, just a few kilometers away... But take a moment to pause! The city's symbol, the Atomium, today stands as a must-see in the Belgian landscape. Tourists, heads of state, and artists from around the globe don't hesitate to snap a beautiful photo 📸. Now it's your turn! Erected for the 1958 World's Fair, the structure represents an iron crystal magnified… 165 billion times! 🔬 Weighing 2,500 tons, it’s not just its size that makes this structure beloved. The monument, originally intended to last only six months, has ultimately won over the hearts of Belgians with its originality, aesthetics, and symbolism! Its popularity and success, bridging the gap between sculpture and architectural work, have ensured its permanence. And that’s a good thing! You might just be among the 600,000 annual visitors who come to enjoy the city's most stunning view 👀.

Bonus 👇

© Japanese Tower / Wikimedia Commons

⛩️ The Japanese Tower: A little extra

You'll only catch a glimpse of this tower from a distance as you make your way toward the King Baudouin Stadium. However, we think this dash of exoticism will spark your curiosity to explore more! Opened in 1905, the Japanese Tower, alongside the Chinese Pavilion and the Museum of Japanese Art, forms part of the “Far Eastern Museums” 🇯🇵.

In conclusion...

A wonderful array of iconic locations awaits! The finish line is situated at the King Baudouin Stadium, recognized by soccer fans as the venue for the Belgian Cup final ⚽. The Brussels Half-Marathon, known for its flat and fast course, is perfect for both setting a personal best and enjoying the surrounding panorama... So, convinced to sign up? We'll drop the link right here, just in case! 😉


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