Porte de Hal

©Analia Glogowski/Lonely Planet

Porte de Hal


For centuries Brussels was surrounded by a grand 8km fortress wall. It was partly demolished in the 1790s, then removed altogether on Napoleon’s orders in 1810. Well, almost. In fact, a few isolated parts survived, including the Porte de Hal, one of the seven very imposing 14th-century gatehouse towers, which the French preserved for use as a military prison. The Porte de Hal was converted into a museum in 1847 and romantically embellished with statuary, windows and neo-Gothic turrets thereafter.

Today an audioguide leads you round its decent little city-history museum and exhibition of armour, and you can climb to the 6th-storey battlements.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Brussels attractions

1. Josephine Baker Mural

0.38 MILES

In one of the most distinctive Marolles murals, slinky chanteuse Josephine, with a leopard on a lead, shakes hands with a rotund monk. Behind, both in the…

2. Peeping Policeman

0.39 MILES

This Hergé character uses the terrace end brilliantly for a little spying.

3. Palais de Justice

0.44 MILES

Larger than St Peter’s in Rome, this 2.6-hectare complex of law courts was the world’s biggest building when it was constructed (1866–83). While the…

4. Elevator

0.44 MILES

A glass elevator leads from the Palais du Justice down to the earthy Marolles district.

5. Jardin d’Enfants

0.44 MILES

Victor Horta's first civic commission, the charming Jardin d’Enfants in the Marolles still functions as a schoolhouse.

8. Viewpoint

0.49 MILES

Look out over the Marolles towards the old town.