Sights of Belgium: Top 25

Достопримечательности Бельгии: Топ-25

Belgium is one of the most prosperous European countries with excellent tourist services. The sights of Belgium are well-preserved medieval monuments, among which Gothic castles especially attract tourists. The high standard of living in Belgium directly affects the state’s attitude towards historical and cultural sites. It can be said that the cult of iconic historical objects dominates here. They are treated as a national treasure.

What to see in Belgium first of all

If you want your vacation to make an indelible impression, consider contacting specialists in organizing excursions. Guides in Belgium speak different languages and have a responsible approach to work – it’s enough for you to tell where you want to go, and the guide will make sure that the trip goes perfectly.

1. The historical center of Bruges

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View from the canal of the medieval houses and the Gall Tower in the historical center of Bruges

Modern Belgium is interesting to many travelers. This is largely due to the medieval castles and squares that have been lucky enough to survive to this day. When asking yourself what to see in Belgium, do not forget about the Belfry Palace and the Gall Tower. The Belgians consider the date of their construction to be 1040, and the square in Bruges became their location. The tower can be seen from everywhere, compositionally it dominates the square.

The architectural monument belongs to medieval sites. In previous centuries, it was nothing more than an indoor market. Trade was actively conducted here, since many trade routes have always passed through Belgium. The realistic originality of medieval architecture can be felt here by touch. The structure is monumental, built of solid stone. Due to the low-key colors peculiar to the Middle Ages, the palace and the bell tower seem gloomy from the outside.

Brown and beige tones prevail on the facades, but on closer inspection, tourists admire how many architectural and decorative details there are on the walls of ancient structures. The square is a UNESCO heritage site. Currently, the movement of vehicles is prohibited on it.

Official website: https://www.visitbruges

Belgium | Hotels at competitive prices

2. St. Bavon’s Cathedral, Ghent Altar (Ghent)

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The Cathedral of St. Bavon, where the Ghent altar is kept

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Church sash altar in the Catholic Cathedral of St. Bavon in Ghent Web Gallery of Art

The cathedral has a dedication. The structure was erected in honor of Saint Bavon. It is interesting for those who have not yet decided what to visit in Belgium. The construction work was carried out for a very long time, at various stages they stopped and resumed again. It is considered that the year of the cathedral’s construction is 1569. After the old abbey of St. Bavon was dissolved, the church became collegiate. This happened after the uprising against Charles 5. The diocese was founded later, in 1559. Tourists will be interested to know that it was in the church of St. Bavon that Charles 5 was baptized.

The Ghent altar is the treasury of the cathedral. Its architecture corresponds to a certain theme. It is based on the worship of the lamb. On the altar stands a defenseless and touching Lamb bearing the symbol of Christ.

The work of Jan and Hubert van Eyck was crowned with success, and the altar is considered to be a masterpiece of religious creativity. In his composition, the creativity of the Northern Renaissance was reflected in restrained shades.

Official website: http://www.sintbaafskathedraal

3. The Museum “On the fields of Flanders” (Ypres)

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The exposition of the museum “On the fields of Flanders”

The museum recreates the atmosphere of the frontline Ypres. The museum’s exposition, updated in 2012, contains authentic documents and attributes of that time. Here you can see maps, weapons, uniforms and personal belongings of soldiers.

The organizers used interactive technology, including sound systems, touch screens, and video projection tools. The software is provided by OCULAR.

The bloody battle of the First World War at Ypres is presented to visitors on an interactive relief map. At the same time, the image is complemented by the stories of doctors, soldiers, nurses and priests. Authentic stories of personal tragedies are presented in interactive kiosks.

John McCray’s poem “In the Fields of Flanders” is dedicated to the tragedy of the First World War. It commemorates A. Helmer, who died during the Battle of Ypres. For modern history, the poem is relevant in the sad image of the red poppy, which is perceived as a symbol of fervent grief for all those who died in military conflicts.

Official website: http://www.inflandersfields

4. Gravensten Castle (Ghent)

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The medieval castle of Gravensten between the rivers Lys and Lieve

The castle has become an example of a fortification. It was built in the 9th century during the reign of Count Baudouin I the Iron Hand. The functional purpose of the defensive structure was protection from the Vikings, who were famous for discipline and special cruelty. In the 10th century, the fortress was rebuilt by order of Count Arnulf 1. The building material was wood.

All fortifications were built around the main building, located on a hill. Over the centuries, the castle has undergone numerous upgrades. In the 12th century, at the behest of Count Robert 1 of Frisia, the tower was completely rebuilt. The new architects have equipped a three-storey building, which has luxurious halls with a stone staircase. A distinctive feature of this tower was the presence of latrines and stoves. It was available only to the wealthiest owners.

The castle retained its administrative function throughout the following centuries. In the twentieth century, it became one of the main attractions of Belgium. The 800th anniversary of the castle was celebrated in 1980.

Official website:

5. Basilica of the Holy Blood (Bruges)

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The interior of the Basilica of the Holy Blood

The monument was built in the 12th century. This is an ancient structure, which has been preserved for posterity almost in its original form. According to the tradition of that time, the monument is located on the market square. The chapel has two floors, and their architectural design is different. The lower level became a reflection of the Romanesque style.

The upper part looks more like a fortification, in which you can see loophole windows, rounded columns and tall pointed towers. The chapel complements the sights of Belgium and serves as a direct proof of how carefully the modern authorities treat historical monuments. The facades could be called ascetic, if not for the refined stone ornament and beautiful stone grilles on the oval windows.

Metal decorative elements of the upper level create the impression of flying lace. They somewhat smooth out the heavy visual perception of the medieval structure. The courtyard is paved with stone. The booming echo of footsteps in it remained as sonorous as in the old days.

Official website: http://www.holyblood

6. The Meuse Valley in Belgium

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The valley of the Meuse River

If you are wondering what to visit in Belgium, pay attention to the Meuse Valley. A trip along the river promises to be really interesting. Here you can admire the ancient limestones, which rise almost steeply above the fast river. Dense forests and plains have become a haven for small cozy villages. The Meuse Valley has many hiking trails.

In addition to hiking trails, you can choose a bike ride. Along the bike paths, you can see many of the sights of Belgium. There are many beautiful citadels on the tops of limestone cliffs, which guides enthusiastically talk about. The embankment itself is organized in accordance with the architecture of European towns. It is spotlessly clean, the pavements are not just cleaned, but washed daily with special shampoos.

Ecological cleanliness is felt in the special freshness of the air and the transparency of the river. The buildings on the embankment have no more than 5 floors. These are compact and very comfortable buildings, among which there are hotel houses with excellent service.

7. Grand Place (Brussels)

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Floral carpet on the Grand Place in Brussels Wouter Hagens

The Grand Place remembers the noise of the market trade. It was founded in the 13th century, and its purpose was to provide comfortable trade to wealthy merchants. Shopping malls were set up around the perimeter of the square. In modern terms, the area had a large capacity. It was paved with powerful paving stones, which easily withstood the greatest mechanical loads.

In addition to shopping malls, jousting tournaments were also held on the square. Demonstrative trials were also held here. The square corresponds to the Gothic style. The buildings surrounding it have stylish columns and lattice windows on their facades. Each building is necessarily crowned, according to the Gothic canons, with pointed towers or domes. The Grand Place should be visited by anyone who is interested in the sights of Belgium.

Interestingly, in Belgium there is an original and beautiful custom to decorate the Grand Place with a floral carpet every even year. Tourists from all over the world come to see this fascinating sight. The ancient buildings surrounding the square are so beloved in Belgium that they have been given their own separate names: Wolf, Cart, Fox Cub.

The Grand Place, like any building of the Middle Ages, has repeatedly withstood enemy attacks. For example, in 1695, the square was besieged by French troops, who thoroughly destroyed it. But over time, elaborate carvings, statuettes and garlands of stones reappeared on the buildings surrounding the square. Now the square is protected by the state.

8. The Old town of Mons

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The bell tower in Mons

The cozy and clean town is located 20 kilometers from the border with France. The city is called the university, you will not find impressive medieval castles and stone-paved squares in it. For tourists, Mons is interesting for its old buildings and special European comfort. The city has the main historical symbol — the Baroque bell tower, which rises 80 meters. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that in all of Europe it is the only bell tower made in the Baroque style.

It has become a UNESCO heritage site. If you haven’t decided what to see in Belgium, think about this small town. Other attractions include the modern museums of YOU and Pass. Here you can learn about the features of the exhibits, the geographical location of the city and its modern development.

9. St. Peter’s Church (Left)

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St. Peter’s Church with a temple Bell Tower

The sights of Belgium will be incomplete without visiting St. Peter’s Church. According to legend, the church was built on the site of a wooden temple, which was built in 987. When the church was restored after a fire in the 12th century, its Romanesque architectural style was preserved. But now she’s turned to stone. Its prototype is the Basilica of Our Lady in Maastricht.

Over time, the architectural style began to change actively. In Belgium, the Gothic style was often used in the creation of religious buildings. St. Peter’s Church was no exception.

Ancient architects planned a 70-meter tower, but the idea was not destined to come true. The fact is that there are unstable soils in this place, which would hardly withstand such a massive structure.

In our time, the devastating wars (World War I and World War II) have had their disastrous effect. St. Peter’s Church was destroyed almost to the ground, but each time it was reborn even more beautiful.

Tourists will be interested to see the famous work “The Last Supper” by Dirk Bauts in Belgium. In addition to this masterpiece, the works of 15th century artists are kept here. Guides in Belgium pay special attention not only to the external composition of the church, but also to its interior decoration. The church is decorated in classical Gothic traditions. It arouses constant interest among tourists.

10. Waterloo

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View of the Lion Hill monument

The municipality of Waterloo can be fully attributed to the sights of Belgium. The city is located 15 km from Brussels, and almost half of its population are foreigners. What is interesting about Waterloo for tourists? Of course, the legendary Battle of Waterloo, when Napoleon suffered a crushing defeat from the troops of the 7th coalition, led by the Duke of Wellington, as well as Field Marshal Blucher.

The stone lion facing France on a massive pedestal is a memory of that bloody battle. The monument was erected by decree of the King of the Netherlands. The king dedicated a monument to his son, the Prince of Orange. The prince was wounded during this battle, but doctors managed to save his life. In addition, Waterloo has a rich Wellington Museum and the beautiful St. Joseph Catholic Church. There is a legend that Wellington won the battle, thanks to his long prayers in this church before the battle.

Sights of Belgium: what else to visit while in Belgium

Obviously, there is something to see for any category of tourists, starting from families with children and pensioners, ending with young people and those who want to explore the local culture more deeply.It is worth continuing your acquaintance with this amazing country by going on excursions in Belgium to the following tourist sites.

11. Semua Valley

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The picturesque Semua Valley and the Semua River

What to see in Belgium? Everyone chooses a trip according to their own preferences. Some are attracted to noisy cities, others are fanatics of medieval castles. There are also travelers who are interested only in museums and only from a scientific point of view. In contrast to the tourist routes passing through the capitals and fashionable hotels, the Semua Valley invites those who appreciate the pristine beauty of nature.

Most often, hiking tours with professional guides take place along the valley, who will enthusiastically tell you about the features of this area. But a boat trip along the river will be no less interesting. The landscapes surrounding the travelers can be called divine. The gentle green shores and the silk grass of the valley leave an indelible impression on tourists. The valley is especially beautiful in spring, when there are a lot of beautiful wildflowers blooming here.

12. Notre Dame Cathedral (Tour)

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Notre Dame Cathedral on Tour

The Cathedral of Notre Dame is known to everyone who is interested in the sights of Belgium. Currently, the cathedral is the residence of the bishop. Notre Dame is an iconic architectural and religious site in Europe. The Romanesque architecture characteristic of the cathedral can be traced in the pointed towers and ascetic gray tones on the facade.

The building is 58 meters high and 36 meters wide. The reason for the creation of Notre Dame was a fire in the 12th century, which destroyed the episcopal church complex.

The main building of the cathedral was erected in 1191. Along with it, utility rooms, towers and choirs were added. Later, Bishop Gauthier de Marvi ordered the rebuilding of the religious building in accordance with the canons of the Gothic style. Notre Dame in its modern form was finally completed in 1325, when two more side chapels appeared.

Belgians are going through a major robbery in 2008, when more than 10 religious objects were stolen from the cathedral. Among them were two episcopal rings and 8 bowls. 3 crosses were also missing, one of which contained a particle of the Cross of Christ. Historians estimate the stolen valuables at 40 million euros. In 2000, the cathedral became a UNESCO Heritage site. Notre Dame is particularly proud of the Belgians.

13. Liege is the cultural capital

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Panorama of the city of Liege

The city of Liege is rightfully considered the cultural capital of Belgium. In the Middle Ages, there was a fierce struggle between the nobility and the clergy for Liege. The struggle was waged for life and death, which is confirmed by the preserved information about the tragic events of 1312. That year, supporters of the nobility were burned alive in St. Martin’s Church.

In addition to religious wars, Liege was shaken by economic and political cataclysms. In the 15th century, the Netherlands tried several times to annex Liege, but the city courageously defended its independence. Charles the Bold twice made devastating raids on the city. In 1468, Liege was almost destroyed because of this, but later rebuilt.

The 16th century is considered a golden time for the city. During the reign of Erar of the Lamarck family, a real cult of gunsmiths was established in the city. In addition, at the same time, the city was experiencing the rise of steel centers. Modern historians believe that if it were not for the constant struggle between the townspeople and the bishops, Liege could have become the largest economic center of the country.

However, the rule of the episcopate came to an end in 1789. Since then, it has become an administrative center. During the establishment of French rule, the townspeople showed great fortitude in the struggle for Belgian independence. It can be said that it was Liege that became the stronghold of the guerrilla war of 1830. When choosing what to visit in Belgium, it makes sense to get acquainted with the heroic history of this glorious city.

14. Statue of a Pissing boy (Brussels)

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The famous “Pissing Boy” statue

The funny, ironic and touching sculpture “Pissing Boy” is installed in Brussels next to the Grand Place. The sculpture is a child’s figurine mounted on a pedestal. Historians found the first mention of such a statue in the fifteenth century and even earlier – at the end of the 14th. According to legend, it has a reference to the events of the Grimbergen War.

Legend tells that the cradle with the son of the ruler Gottfried III of Leuven hung on a tree, and the sight of a little boy, the future monarch, served as a kind of inspiration for the warriors. According to legend, the boy urinated on the warriors, transferring his power to them.

There is another legend, according to which a certain boy extinguished the incipient fire from enemy ammunition in such a simple way. The authorship of the modern version belongs to the sculptor Jerome Duquenoy, who presented his funny masterpiece to the city in 1619. There is an attractive force in this monument. Perhaps his charm lies in the many heroic legends that surround the boy?

This landmark has been repeatedly attacked by robbers in Belgium. After the statue disappeared without a trace in 1960, it was replaced by a replica, and the event itself became the reason for the creation of the feature film “Saïda a enlevé Manneken-Pis”.

Official website:

15. Charleroi (Hainaut)

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Night Charleroi

Charleroi, one of the largest cities in Belgium, is located 50 km from Brussels. It is a major aviation and railway hub of the country. The population here is small, the city is home to just over 200 thousand people. The city-forming direction of the economy is steel production. The year of Charleroi’s foundation is 1666.

Then the Charnois fortification fortress was built on this site, later renamed at the behest of King Charles 2. Currently, the city is one of the five most beautiful cities in the country, which gives reason to rank it among the sights of Belgium. Interestingly, one of the city’s stadiums was used during the European Football Championship in 2000.

16. Diamond Quarter (Antwerp)

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Jewelry store signs in Antwerp’s Diamond Quarter Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Antwerp is the second most important Belgian city after Brussels, the birthplace of famous artists — Rubens and Van Dyck, the largest port and a place where historical and modern sights meet.Being the center of the diamond trade in Europe, Antwerp has its own Diamond Quarter, where a lot of jewelry stores, workshops are located, trading exchanges operate, and buyers are offered a huge number of precious diamonds of different colors, shapes and sizes. But contrary to expectations, you will not find here some semblance of the golden land of El Dorado — this quarter is occupied by ordinary, most often residential buildings, and jewelry shops huddle on their ground floors.

17. Atomium (Brussels)

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View of the Atomium – a modern symbol of Brussels Paweu88

A real treasure trove for guests of Belgium is the capital city of Brussels. Pompous streets are often occupied by monumental architectural creations — luxurious palaces, historical shopping galleries, museums full of priceless exhibits. Among the most iconic objects of the city are the Brussels City Hall, the Royal Palace, the Stock Exchange building, the Notre Dame du Sablon Cathedral, and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. A bright contrast to the Gothic, Empire and Baroque facades flashing everywhere makes up a modern monument to the molecule. This is an Atomium — a construction in the form of a model of a molecule magnified billions of times. Giant atoms are connected by pipes, inside of which there are entire corridors. The unusual monument was timed to coincide with the opening of the World Exhibition of Achievements.

Official website: http://www.atomium

18. Rene Magritte Museum (Brussels)

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Facades of the Rene Magritte Museum in Brussels Warburg

By placing the most important sights of Belgium on its territories, Brussels has not ignored the creativity of local talents. These include the famous Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte. The neoclassical building of 2009, located on the Royal Square, houses a permanent exhibition of more than two hundred works by the author. The collection of paintings created in the most mysterious surrealist style is complemented by sketches, sculptures, photographic experiments, short surrealist films and other creations of the artist. The museum itself is officially part of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts complex.

Official website: https://www.fine-arts-museum

19. Nemo 33 (Ukkel)

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A well of rounded shape with a depth of a twelve-storey house in the Nemo pool 33 Sergey Markov

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Portholes at the very bottom of the pool, through which the Nemo 33 Sergey Markov bar is visible

If the question of what kind of attraction is in the capital of Belgium, it is easy to find the answer in any tourist guide, then do not forget that there are other cities and districts in Belgium worthy of attention. For example, in the small Belgian town of Ukkel, a deep-sea swimming training center was opened not so long ago. It is unique in that it houses the deepest swimming pool in the world, with a well as deep as 35 meters. The pool is filled with 2.5 thousand cubic meters of fresh purified water, and numerous windows are built into its walls, through which you can watch swimmers at different depths. The complex was created not only for scuba diving training, but also for recreation and filming.

Official website: http://www.nemo-33m

20. Antwerp Central Station (Antwerp)

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Antwerp Central Railway Station on Astrid Square in Antwerp Rafaël Delaedt (Arafi)

Among other famous sites in Antwerp, it is worth highlighting the Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp with paintings by famous artists, the Museum of Fine Arts with works by local and European painters, a large city port, as well as the railway station, recognized as one of the most important attractions of the city. It was Antwerp Central that repeatedly occupied the leading positions among the most beautiful train stations in the whole world. Its building, erected at the beginning of the last century, has an impressive facade, similar to the facades of magnificent medieval palaces. The interior is striking in its luxury and scale — the walls and ceiling are decorated with more than twenty types of marble and other valuable stones.

21. The Bell Tower of Bruges (Bruges)

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The Bell Tower of Bruges on the Market Square Graham Richter

The main tower of the city of Bruges, which has become its symbol, is a beautiful Neo-Gothic structure in the center of the Market Square. The first belfry on this site was erected back in the 13th century — its tower was used to monitor the approaches to the city. Since then, the tower has been repeatedly erected, destroyed and restored again. Today, there are 47 bells in its bell tower, which emit a beautiful ringing through a carillon. Especially brave travelers strive to overcome the path of 366 steps to the top of the tower to see the beautiful panoramas from the very peak of this landmark. The Netherlands is particularly well viewed from here, from an 83-meter height, due to the proximity of the bell tower to the border with this state.

22. Leuven (Dil River)

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Attractions in the historical center of Leuven Wouter Hagens

Wondering what to see in Belgium in a week, it is worth making a plan of the most interesting tourist sites that are not very far from each other. For example, just 30 kilometers from the Belgian capital there is a small and cozy town with cute colored houses and cobbled streets. This is Leuven, located on the banks of the Dil River — a world of noisy students, green squares and beautiful old buildings. It is here that the oldest and most prestigious university in the country is located, so tens of thousands of local and international students come to the city every year to study. Among the interesting places in Leuven are the tourist office, which organizes walking tours of the city, the elegant stone and lace town hall, the Bolshoy Beguinage district with hundreds of unique ancient houses, and a beautiful botanical garden.

Official website: https://www.leuven

23. En-sur-Les (Namur province)

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One of the halls of En-sur-Les is a cave of natural origin user:Hullie

In the Belgian province of Namur, you can visit a mysterious and fascinating natural monument — the karst cave of An-sur-Les, formed as a result of the dissolution of limestone rocks by the waters of the Les River. Making its way underground at a depth of about a kilometer, the river once washed out an impressive cavity in the rocky rock. You can get inside the cave by a special excursion tram from the center of the village of the same name. Inside the cave there is always high humidity and low temperature — about + 13 degrees. The total length of the internal tunnels is more than 15 km. The stalactite hall, called the “Minaret”, deserves special attention. The vaults of the hall are dotted with stalactites and stalagmites, the age of which reaches 12 thousand years!

Official website: http://www.grotte

24. Lake of Love (Bruges)

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Scenic view of the Lake of Love in Bruges Luu

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Swans on the Lake of Love in Minnewater Park in Bruges Dennis Jarvis

Spring is an ideal time to travel across the Belgian expanses: the optimal temperature and sunny weather contribute to the creation of excellent conditions for tourism. When choosing what to see in Belgium in May, it is worth including a visit to the Lake of Love in the trip plan. In one of the most beautiful parks in Belgium, the Minnwater, which is especially transformed in spring, there is an artificial lake created in the 13th century as a reservoir. Once there was a port with access to the sea and the most important trade routes ran through it, but now it is a great place for May walks, when young greenery pleases with its rich colors, and the air has a comfortable temperature. Since the 15th century, swans have been bred here, which even today float sedately through the quiet lake waters.

25. Xuan Forest (Brussels)

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A green corner of the forest on the southern outskirts of the city of Brussels Donar Reiskoffer

When choosing the sights of Belgium for children, we recommend paying attention to an interesting natural object — the Xuan Forest, located very close to the capital. The forest area, spread over a small area of 40 square kilometers, is an ideal place for walking with children, because here you can not just walk, but also meet some of the inhabitants of the forest — such as squirrels, hares, various species of birds. You can also ride horses, have a picnic in the fresh air, play football, basketball, frisbee, badminton and other sports games on the territory of the sports school located here. In addition, there is a large and clean lake in the forested area where you can go fishing. You can get to the forest from the city by metro.


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