National Basilica


Ghastly but gigantic, this is the world’s fifth-largest church and the world’s largest art-deco building. When construction started in 1905 (to celebrate Belgium’s 75th anniversary), a truly magnificent feast of neo-Gothic spires was planned. However, WWI left state finances impoverished, so a 1925 redesign shaved off most of the intricate details. The lumpy result, finally completed in 1969, has some attractive stained glass but is predominantly a white elephant of dull brown brick and green copperwork.

Take the lift (adult/BrusselsCard €5/3) to a 53m-high panorama balcony for sweeping views, including an interesting perspective on the Atomium.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Brussels attractions

1. Tour & Taxis


A postal sorting shed doesn’t sound like an immediate tourist draw, but the Tour & Taxis complex is an architectural masterpiece, its 21st-century revamp…

2. Recyclart

1.42 MILES

This ‘arts laboratory’ recently moved from its old graffitied central Brussels location to Molenbeek. It hosts art installations and theatre productions,…


1.43 MILES

On the banks of the Brussels Canal, the engaged and engaging Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art (MIMA) showcases contemporary art with a permanent…

4. Sacrifice Mural

1.44 MILES

This raw and unsettling mural is based on Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Isaac, and shows a child about to have his throat cut. The artist, who has also…

6. Cubitus

1.55 MILES

In this mural a tetchy-looking Manneken Pis gazes up at his pediment, from which he has been displaced by a grinning, peeing bear.

7. Anspach Fountain

1.58 MILES

Surmounted by a tall granite tower topped by a bronze statue of St-Micheal, the fountain commemorates a former mayor.

8. Argos

1.58 MILES

A not-for-profit gallery in a former banana warehouse, founded in 1989 to promote video art that engages with politics. In addition to changing temporary…