Brussels

Brussels - Belgium

Brussels. A city famed for its sprouts and Eurocrats. Sounds tempting?

Don’t be put off by the city’s reputation as there is a great deal for tourists to check out in this bustling metropolitan hub.

Brussels (French: Bruxelles), is the de facto capital city of the European Union (EU) and the largest metropolitan area in Belgium. Great shopping and dining await visitors on a weekend break away from the typical European destinations. Of course, those with a taste for power will also find plenty to fill their visits: Brussels is the home of both the EU and NATO.

Brussels started out as a 10th-century fortress tow and is now home to more than one million inhabitants. The Brussels metropolitan area, covers a total area of 4,127 km2, including the Brussels-Capital Region and its 103 surrounding municipalities.

Historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels became Francophile during the 19th and 20th centuries. In the twenty first century, most inhabitants are native French-speakers (although you will get by with Dutch – it is still an official language).

 

Architecture

Lovers of functional modern architecture will be in their element in Brussels.

More traditional attractions include the Grand Place, Brussels’ main market square. This was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and maintains the accolade today.

Built for the 1958 World Fair, The Atomium is a 103-metre tall that consists of nine steel spheres connected by tubes, and forms a model of a unit cell. It is a striking statement and represents one of Brussels’ most recognisable monuments.

In contrast, the Manneken Pis, a bronze fountain of a urinating child, is a popular symbol of the city.
Flemish town houses are among the popular attractions in the heart of the old town. Victor Horta’s striking Art Nouveau style buildings also give Brussels’ suburbs a unique look and feel. Etterbeek Ixelles, Schaerbeek and Saint-Gilles are noteworthy destinations for anyone seeking Art Nouveau styling.

Brussels is home to a healthy number of museums including, notably, the Royal Museum of Fine Art. Popular cultural destinations include the Brussels Theatre and La Monnaie Theatre and opera house.

The city has had a renowned artist scene for many years. The famous Belgian surrealist René Magritte, for example, studied in Brussels. The city is also a capital of the comic strip; some treasured Belgian characters are Lucky Luke, Tintin, Cubitus, Gaston Lagaffe and Marsupilami. Throughout the city walls are painted with large motifs of comic book characters, and the interiors of some Metro stations are designed by artists. The Belgian Comics Museum combines two artistic leitmotifs of Brussels, being a museum devoted to Belgian comic strips, housed in the former Waucquez department store, designed by Victor Horta in the Art Nouveau style.

The 50,000 seater King Baudouin Stadium is the largest concert and competition facility in Belgium. The site of the King Baudouin Stadium was formerly occupied by the Heysel Stadium, which was demolished in 1994.

Arts

Brussels is home to over 40 museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium.

 

Food

Brussels is best known for its waffles, French fries and chocolate (Godiva, Neuhaus and Leonidas call the city home).

The city is home to around 1,800 restaurants and a number of high quality bars. The Belgians have well and truly embraced cafe culture and you will never struggle to find a good afternoon snack on the streets of Brussels.

Lambic beer is only brewed in and around Brussels. The special yeasts needed to make the brew can be found in the Senne valley. Similarly, Kriek (cherry beer) is hugely popular and can be ordered in almost every restaurant in Brussels (and throughout Belgium).

 

 
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Climate

Brussels has a pleasant climate, with summer temperatures typically reaching the low twenties (centigrade) and winter temperatures rarely falling far below zero.

Useful Links

Brussels Weather (BBC)

Brussels Airport