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Brussels Belgium

INTRODUCTION

Located in central Belgium, Brussels is the capital of the country and a crossroads between Belgium's Flemish speaking north (Flanders) and its French speaking south (Wallonia). The city is also the defacto capital of the European Union, which bases its headquarters in the city. Brussels is also the base for NATO and the Western European Union.

Brussels

Visitors to Brussels will enjoy the grandeur of the extravagant homes and lovely cafes in the historic square called the Grand Place. The square serves as the center of Brussels and is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. It serves as the setting for many concerts and events in the city, and when the climate is warm it houses a flower market that only adds to its charm.

HISTORY

The area around Brussels has been inhabited since the BC era. Throughout its early years the area was controlled by many groups including the Romans, Franks, Brabant's, and Hapsburgs. In 1831 the area finally became Belgium with the rise of King Leopold who expanded his empire into Africa. During World War II Belgium and Brussels were invaded by Germany and the country spent much of the war under German control. During the Post war period King Baudouin became one of Europe's most loved leaders by liberating Congo, calming Flemish-Franco tensions in the country, and bringing NATO and the European Commission to Brussels.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Most of the population speaks mostly English, French, and/or Arabic, in addition to many local dialects.

Walking is a favoured pastime for many, and is one of the best ways to experience the culture.

ATTRACTIONS

The town hall, otherwise known as the Hotel de Ville, is one of the most noticeable places in the Grand Place and was built in the 13th century. The building’s construction and appearance can be described as Gothic—there is a crooked spire that spans 315ft high and is topped by the angel St. Michael. Tours of the inside are offered, where visitors can marvel at the 15th century tapestries and wondrous works of art.

For those who like to be surrounded by luxury, the Galeries St Hubert is the place to visit. This exquisite glass-roofed arcade is sprinkled with cafes, theaters and lavish stores. For those looking for mental stimulation, a trip to the Monts de Arts will be worthwhile. It is near the gardens of Petit Sablon and Egmont, so one can stop there and enjoy the floral brilliance before stopping at the area that has an abundance of museums, theatres, and historical monuments.

Brussels also hosts the annual Queen Elizabeth Music competition, which brings classical musicians from all over the world. There is also an annual jazz festival which draws jazz stars to the city. Ballets and operas are shown at the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie. For Americans who need to feel a touch of home, there are cinemas with American films in their original version. If the party scene is what your looking for, there are also nightclubs and discos to satisfy your urge to let loose.

  • The Grand Place district of guild houses from medieval times trade was extremely important.
  • A perennial Favourite around the world - The Manneken Pis, the statue of a little Boy, *blush* peeing in the fountain, typical of Belgian humor; it has been amusing folks since 1619 and always attracts a crowd of shutterbugs.
  • The Royal Galleries, recently renovated.

A fabulous glass-roofed shopping arcade built in 1847, it is one of the most dazzling places in Brussels, showcasing high fashion and art, fine food and dining.

  • The European Union, an organization of more than 25 different countries. The Union is divided in to a triad: The European Parliament, The European Council, The European Commission.
  • The Cantillion Brewery, founded in 1900, is now a museum with tastings and tours all year long.
  • The Royal Palace, is open to tours during the summer months only.
  • Place De Grand Sablons, a fresh and lively open air market and bistro area, houses restaurants, bars, night clubs and other fun night spots.

RESTAURANTS

More of a bar than a restaurant, La Morte Subite (meaning "sudden death") can be true to its name if you're not careful. Dozens of different Belgian beers, some having an alcohol content upwards of 12% can really creep up on you if you don't keep a slow and steady pace. To soak up the alcohol, Subite offers a menu of food ranging from sandwiches to omelettes. The distinct Parisian design of the bar and its wide array of native beverages makes for quite the entertaining night on the town.

LODGING

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