Explore Belgium's city of Brussels
More than 1000 years old, Brussels is the capital of Belgium. Its two official languages are French and Dutch. However, the city is multi-ethnic so you will often find many differing nationalities, cultures and languages in the streets, giving it an international flavour. This is due to its position as a crossroads for most of Europe.
You will also find a wonderful diversity in the differing architectural styles. Gothic cathedrals stand in stark contrast next to art nouveau buildings or more classical facades. If you are going to see Brussels, one of the best places to start is the Grote Markt (Grand Place). It is a historic market square bordered by wonderful guild houses and the impressive Gothic structured Town Hall. Grote Markt is considered to be one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe.
Brussels was officially founded in 979 when Carl of France decided to build a fortress on the island. However, mention was made of Brussels in 977. Before the building of the fortress the island was known as the Island of Saint-Gorik, a preacher who settled and built a chapel here. In the middle of the 11th century, the new ruler of Brussels built a new fortress here as well as began the cities first walls.
This is the earliest recorded beginnings of Brussels, and the city has since gone from strength to strength regardless of any small problems it may have encountered along the way. Even the 1st and 2nd World Wars were unable to completely halt progression and once the wars had ceased, Brussels was made the capital of the European Union.
There are so many things to enjoy in Brussels. The famous Manneken Pis, the satute of the peeing boy, can be seen near the Grote Markt. Or if you are visiting between April and September, the town square and buildings become part of a magnificent light show. You can also see Mini Europe: small replicas of all the major buildings and monuments in Europe, or Bruparck: a reconstructed Belgian village as well as an amazing cinema complex, imax screen and swimming pools.
If you are interested in art, why not visit the Belgian Comic Strip Center, home of Tintin and many others. Finish off your day at the Toone Theater with a mug of beer and a wonderful puppet show. The iguanodons of Bernissart will transport you back to the age of dinosaurs, while the Ommegang, if you are in Brussels at the end of June, will allow you to enjoy a 16th century procession. Perhaps one of the nicest attractions is held every two years in the third week of August. A Flower Carpet is created in the Market Place to a theme, delighting young and old alike.
Though there are a lot of influences on the city at this stage, Brussels has found a way to balance them out resulting in an exquisite destination made for memories. Why not see it for yourself?