Rue du Lombard, place de la Justice and rue Lebeau climbs up to the PLACE DU SABLON, the area of antique shops, bric a brac and antique dealers. The square is surrounded by inviting cafes, restaurants and terraces, where you can take a break. At weekends an antiques and antiquarian book market is held here. Don't miss it, it's a must see. It attracts a lot of people, coming from far over the borders of the country.
The place du Grand Sablon is one of the most elegant squares of Brussels. Very lively and attractive with world famous specialty patisseries like WITTAMER which sells (expensive) pastries and pralines at nos.12-13, MARCOLINI juts at the other side, next to the chic brasserie AU VIEUX SAINT MARTIN, a boulangerie-patisserie-salon de thé, already world famous in its conception of convivial table settings (franchised in Paris and New York), LE PAIN QUOTIDIEN. They are all recommended for a gourmand break.
North of the place, stands the flamboyant styled church
of NOTRE DAME DU SABLON built in the 15th-16th century. Inside you can admire a rose window representing the Virgin and Child. In one of the baroque chancel chapels lie the tombs of Thurn and Taxis. The choir is a pure masterwork with its fine columns and ravishing ensemble of glass stained windows, reminding those of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris.
Cross the rue de la Regence (where we will return later to see the synagogue and the palais de justice), and admire one of the cutest, quietest, most charming and beautiful
squares in Brussels, PLACE DU PETIT SABLON. Built in 1890, it has a completely different atmosphere, with an attractive park lying behind wrought iron gates. Flemish Neo-Renaissance style from architect Beyaert. The 48 bronze statues, standing on 48 fine neo gothic columns, recall the guild masters of the 16th century. Tile and thatch roofers, chair makers, gold beaters and dried cod dealers. In front of the central fountain, a statue group represents the counts of EGMONT and HORN, executed by the Spanish oppressors in 1568. All around, you will recognize the statues of Gerard Mercator, Abraham Ortelius. The palace you see at the upper side of the square is the PALAIS D'EGMONT, now a dependence of the ministry of foreign affairs.
Return now to the rue de la Regence and mount to the Palais de Justice, you can't miss it.
You'll pass the Music Conservatory (many world class recitals and concerts) just before the SYNAGOGUE, of a Roman - Byzantine style, dating already two centuries. But now we come to the PALAIS DE JUSTICE, described as the "mammoth"
and the biggest 19th century building in the city. Built between 1866 and 1887 by Joseph
Poulaert, it's more like a temple of colossal architecture. A dome 97.5 meters high! a surface of 26,000 square meters, an entrance porch of 40 meters height, mad, mad! ! It's not especially my cup of tea, this sever and imposing mastodon seeming ready to crush you. Monstrous, it lacks taste in proportion to its gigantism. It is located on a top of a hill, called the "Galgenberg" (Gallows hill), where they used to hang the criminals.
An anecdote: the Germans put the dome on fire during WWII because they were furious that the people of the "Marolles" (popular quarter behind the justice palace), had stolen their entire wine and champagne reserves they stored in the cellars!!
The building dominates Brussels (nice view from the balustrade on the place Poulaert), and is the start of our next walk to the chic shopping area of the avenue Louise and avenue de la Toison d'Or.
"Guide illustré de Bruxelles "by D.des Marez (Brussels 1979), " Gids " voor Vlaanderen (Vlaamse Toeristenbond), "Brussel, groei van een hoofdstad, by Jean Stengers (Antwerp, 1979), Guides du Routard (ed.Hachette 1979)"Vlaanderen's roem", by Guido Peeters (Brussels 1975), "Bruxelles au Moyen Age", by A. Joris ( Paris 1987),"Brussels : Fin De Siecle", by Philippe Roberts-Jones(Evergreen Series),"Brussels : The Art of Living", by Piet Swimberghe(1998)