Lonely Planet review
Brussels' incomparable central square tops any itinerary. Its splendidly spired Gothic Hôtel de Ville was the only building to escape bombardment by the French in 1695, quite ironic considering that it was their main target. Today the pedestrianised square's splendour is due largely to its intact collection of guildhalls , rebuilt by merchant guilds after 1695 and fancifully adorned with gilded statues. Several now host tempting cafes , though similarly historic drinking spots are somewhat less expensive around the nearby Bourse . That's Brussels' 1873 stock exchange whose neoclassical stone facade features sculptures by the young Rodin. A block northeast of Grand Place, the 1847 Galeries St-Hubert was Europe's first shopping arcade and remains a must-visit. Enchantingly colourful lanes of close-packed fish restaurants lead south from here down the Rue des Bouchers ,but beware that (with some exceptions) many are notorious tourist traps.