Brussels , officially theBrussels-Capital Region (French: Région de Bruxelles-Capitale, Dutch: Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest)., is the capital and largest city of Belgium and the de facto capital of theEuropean Union (EU). It is also the largest urban area in Belgium, comprising 19 municipalities, including the municipality of the City of Brussels, which de jure is the capital of Belgium, in addition to the seat of the French Community of Belgium and of the Flemish Community.
Brussels has grown from a 10th-century fortress town founded by a descendant of Charlemagneto a sizeable city. The city has a population of 1.2 million and a metropolitan area with a population of over 1.8 million, both of them the largest in Belgium.
Since the end of the Second World War, Brussels has been a major centre for international politics. Hosting principal EU institutions, the secretariat of the Benelux and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the city has become the polyglot home of numerous international organisations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants.
Brussels is just a few miles north of the boundary between Belgium's language communities—French in the south, Dutch in the North. Historically a Dutch-speaking city, it has seen a major shift to French since Belgian independence in 1830. Today, although the majority language is French, the city is officially bilingual. All road signs, street names, and many advertisements and services are shown in both languages. Brussels is increasingly becoming multilingual with increasing numbers of migrants, expatriates and minority groups speaking their own languages.
|Region of Belgium|
A collage with several views of Brussels, Top: View of the Northern Quarter business district, 2nd left: Floral carpet event in the Grand Place, 2nd right: Brussels City Hall and Mont des Artsarea, 3rd: Cinquantenaire Park, 4th left:Manneken Pis, 4th middle: St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, 4th right: Congress Column, Bottom: Royal Palace of Brussels
|Nickname(s): Capital of Europe Comic city|
Location of (dark green)
The architecture in Brussels is diverse, and spans from the medieval constructions on the Grand-Place to the postmodern buildings of the EU institutions.
Main attractions include the Grand Place, since 1998 a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the Gothic town hall in the old centre, the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula and the Royal Palace of Laeken with its large greenhouses. Another famous landmark is the Royal Palace.
The Atomium is a symbolic 103-metre (338 ft) tall structure that was built for the 1958 World's Fair. It consists of nine steel spheres connected by tubes, and forms a model of an iron crystal (specifically, a unit cell). The architect A. Waterkeyn devoted the building to science. Next to the Atomium is the Mini-Europe park with 1:25 scale maquettes of famous buildings from across Europe.
The Manneken Pis, a fountain containing a bronze sculpture of a urinating youth, is a tourist attraction and symbol of the city.
Other landmarks include the Cinquantenaire park with its triumphal arch and nearby museums, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart ( National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg ), Brussels Stock Exchange, the Palace of Justice and the buildings of EU institutions in the European Quarter.
Cultural facilities include the Brussels Theatre and the La MonnaieTheatre and opera house. There is a wide array of museums, from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium to the Museum of the Army and the Comic Museum ( Brussels Comic Book Museum ). Brussels also has a lively music scene, with everything from opera houses and concert halls to music bars and techno clubs.
The city centre is notable for its Flemish town houses. Also particularly striking are the buildings in the Art Nouveau style by the Brussels architect Victor Horta. Some of Brussels' districts were developed during the heyday of Art Nouveau, and many buildings are in this style. Good examples include Schaerbeek,Etterbeek, Ixelles, and Saint-Gilles. Another example of Brussels Art Nouveau is the Stoclet Palace, by the Viennese architect Josef Hoffmann. The modern buildings of Espace Leopold complete the picture.
The gastronomic offer includes approximately 1,800 restaurants, and a number of high quality bars. Belgian cuisine is known among connaisseurs as one of the best in Europe. In addition to the traditional restaurants, there are a large number of cafés, bistros, and the usual range of international fast food chains. The cafés are similar to bars, and offer beer and light dishes; coffee houses are called the Salons de Thé. Also widespread are brasseries, which usually offer a large number of beers and typical national dishes.
Belgian cuisine is characterised by the combination of French cuisine with the more hearty Flemish fare. Notable specialities include Brussels waffles (gaufres) and mussels (usually as "moules frites", served with fries). The city is a stronghold of chocolate and pralines manufacturers with renowned companies likeNeuhaus, Leonidas and Godiva. Numerous friteries are spread throughout the city, and in tourist areas, fresh, hot, waffles are also sold on the street.
In addition to the regular selection of Belgian beer, the famous lambic style of beer is predominately brewed in and around Brussels, and the yeasts have their origin in the Senne valley. Kriek, a cherry lambic, enjoys outstanding popularity, as it does in the rest of Belgium. Kriek is available in almost every bar or restaurant.