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About city What to see Gallery Where to stay

Today, Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is not only the largest city in the country, but also a political symbol of unified European power. Brussels is also home to the Belgian government and the European Commission – the administrative body of the European Union. The city is also famous for its extraordinarily tasty chocolate, beer and waffles, while its name became known through association with the small green vegetables - sprouts.

This great city has a rich history which dates back to the 11th century, when it was a small duchy barely bigger than the current business area. In 1830, Belgium became independent and soon after that, at the request of the new king and parliament, Brussels became its capital.

Even though Brussels had changed its appearance hundreds of times since the 11th century, some of the original monuments, buildings and streets remain to this day. During its long history, the city became a home for kings and the centre of trade and crafts – the aesthetic way that the old part of the city meshes together with modern architecture is evident even today.

Mexican group Pueblo Maya de Xcaret reconstructs a purification ritual
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Mexican group Pueblo Maya de Xcaret reconstructs a purification ritual

Brussels is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world – around 27 per cent of its local inhabitants are foreigners (not counting those who already obtained Belgian citizenship). This city justifies its title as the capital of Europe perfectly – over 40,000 EU employees, around 4,000 NATO representatives and roughly 300 different agencies (lobby groups, embassies, media corporations) operate from here. After being chosen as the meeting place of European Union conferences, the city became a real centre for European business and politics. Brussels is currently home to the following institutions: the European Commission (which recently began to hold its quarterly sessions here), the European Parliament, and , the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or NATO.

Lithuanian Folk music group Poringe gives free concert on Grand Place
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Lithuanian Folk music group Poringe gives free concert on Grand Place

Brussels has a soft and temperate climate – the temperature outside rarely drops below +1 degree during winter and hardly ever exceeds +23 degrees during summer. If you decide to go out for a walk, however, don’t forget to take an umbrella with you - rain is quite a frequent guest here, except during the period between April and May. When the sun is shining, skies over Brussels become incredibly clear, making leisurely strolls a real pleasure.

What’s interesting is that since Belgians don’t have a single, standardised language, French, Dutch (Flemish) and German all became officially accepted substitutes. It is those three languages that divided the country into the Southern part, Northern part and the third region – Brussels itself. Most people speak French in the capital, although officially the city is considered to be bilingual, which is why all of the names, documents and signs are in two languages. The French version of Brussels is Bruxelles and the Dutch one - Brussel.

Brussels is a city with a long history of being an important geopolitical site in Europe, with a lot to offer outside of politics, too. It’s home to myriad museums, art galleries, exhibitions and extraordinarily cosy cafés that serve excellent coffee and hot chocolate – just don’t forget that everything here, including even pharmacies and shops, are closed on Sundays.

Medieval Market
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Medieval Market

It’s interesting to note that Brussels has 249 butcher’s shops, 647 pharmacies and 874 hairdressing salons - you’re bound to notice at least a few of each while taking a stroll through the streets.

By the way, don’t get surprised at the constant barking – the people of Brussels are head-over-heels for their pets. At least one cat or dog can be found in virtually every home, with some holding several pets even in very small apartments.

One of the most popular objects with tourists here is the famous Peeing Boy Fountain. But little do people know that in 1987 Belgians had created a female version of the fountain, called the Peeing Girl Fountain. As if that wasn’t enough, a Peeing Dog sculpture, with its hind leg raised above a lamp post, was erected in 1999.

Manneken Pis statue in Brussels. Statue of a pissing boy in a beautiful summer day in Brussels, Belgium.jpg
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Manneken Pis statue in Brussels. Statue of a pissing boy in a beautiful summer day in Brussels, Belgium.jpg

Apart from that, Belgium is also famous for its hotels, which range from castles and palaces to futuristic hostels and cosy economy-class little rooms. But what’s more important is that great service is near-universal here – hotels in Brussels are constantly commended by tourists for the attention and politeness of their employees, who are always ready to answer all of your questions.

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