Brussels has 19 municipalities to explore, each with its own unique character. One of my favourite neighbourhoods is Saint-Gilles. The neighbourhood is centrally located with the perfect ratio of residential space, parks, bars, and restaurants. Today much of Saint Gilles's character comes from its international atmosphere, more so than many of the other international neighbourhoods in Brussels. The municipality has a large immigrant community, with over half its residents coming from outside Belgium. Having a drink on one of the many terraces at the Parvis de Saint Gilles, you will hear languages from across the globe.
Lovers of architecture will fall in love with the art nouveau houses, many designed by the famous architect Victor Horta, who spent most of his life living in Saint Gilles. His original home, now being the Horta Museum, which like many of his other buildings, is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Despite the impressive list of art nouveau houses to be found in Saint-Gilles, one of the most memorable buildings is definitely the city hall, which looks more like a palace than an administrative centre. One other unique building that has to be mentioned is the Pianofabriek, even if you show no interest in its mission- a community center that promotes creative and innovative projects – it is still worth walking by to admire its unique façade.
Once you have explored all the architecture Saint-Gilles has to offer, it might be time for a drink and some food; luckily, Saint-Gilles has a lot to offer in this department too. One of my favourite little bars with a great selection of beers and a cozy interior is Ramdam, definitely worth a stop. If you are looking for something with more atmosphere where you can easily spend the entire night drinking, eating, and enjoying your friends' company, then Moeder Lambic is an excellent option. It is by far one of Saint-Gilles' most famous and popular bars; this Belgian pub always has a great atmosphere. If you are looking for something more high end, you can always visit the Modern Alchemist, known for their rum cocktails: you are bound to have a great experience here.
Exploring Saint-Gilles for a day is a truly unique experience; there is something here for everyone. I discover something new every time I walk around the neighbourhood, and I am sure you will too!
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