The historical nucleus of the city, the medieval and Renaissance Grand' Place, a large square, is the site of the Gothic city hall (15th cent.); the Renaissance-style Maison du Roi or Broodhuis (13th cent.), meeting place of the old States-General of the Netherlands; and a number of rebuilt Gothic guildhalls. Near the Grand' Place is the famous fountain of a small boy urinating, Mannekin-Pis (1619). Other noteworthy buildings include the Collegiate Church of St. Michael and St. Gudule (founded in the 11th cent. and rebuilt in the 13th–15th cent.), which contains many noted Flemish paintings; the Palais de la Nation (parliament building); the Palais de Justice; and the Palais du Roi (royal palace). Brussels is the seat of a university (founded 1834), which in 1970 was divided into two separate institutions, one French-speaking and the other Dutch. There are also excellent art museums and a botanical garden. The rest of Brussels is mostly modern, with contemporary office buildings and broad boulevards that circle the city along its former ramparts.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.