Spotlight on Brussels, Belgium

Belgium without Brussels? No way!

By Don Heimburger

What would Belgium do without Brussels?

The capital of the kingdom, yes kingdom, of Belgium–Brussels–is located pretty much in the center of Belgium, south of Antwerp. Brussels is a cosmopolitan city of more than 2 million people (total area) that loves food.

Known for its Grand-Place/Grote Markt with its filigree stonework, the city is fashionable, upscale and village-like all at the same time. Did I mention beer? It’s said Brussels offers 2,000 kinds of beer. Then there’s the food, and the chocolates.

Let’s take a tour through Brussels, using some of the internet sites available:

Both public and private transport are highly developed in the Brussels area, with a network of high-quality roads, airline routes and inland waterways.
• Your arrival in Brussels–ways of entering the Brussels-Capital Region
• Moving around Brussels–means of traveling, using public transport, on foot, by bicycle, by car, by motorbike, by air, etc.
• Finding your way around Brussels–which are the best maps of the city available on the Net.

Brussels is served by Brussels Airport, located in the nearby Flemish municipality of Zaventem, and by the much smaller so-called Brussels South Charleroi Airport, located near Charleroi (Wallonia), some 50 km (30 mi) from Brussels. Brussels is also served by direct high-speed rail links to London by the Eurostar train via the Channel Tunnel (1hr 51 min); to Amsterdam; Paris and Cologne by the Thalys; and to Cologne and Frankfurt by the German ICE (Inter-City Express trains).

The Brussels metro dates back to 1976, but underground lines known as premetro have been serviced by tramways since 1968. A comprehensive bus and tram network also covers the city. Brussels also has its own port on the Willebroek Canal located in the northwest of the city.

An interticketing system means that a STIB/MIVB ticket holder can use the train or long-distance buses inside the city. The commuter services operated by De Lijn, TEC and SNCB/NMBS in the next few years will be augmented by a metropolitan RER rail network around Brussels.

Since 2003 Brussels has had a car-sharing service operated by the Bremen Company Cambio in partnership with STIB/MIVB and local ridesharing company taxi stop. In 2006 shared bicycles were also introduced.

Brussels contains more than 80 museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. The museum has an extensive collection of various painters such as the Flemish painters such as Brueghel, Rogier van der Weyden, Robert Campin, Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens. Brussel’s museums cover areas such as art, technology, industry, science, folklore, literature, history and many other subjects, each presenting a different face of Brussels. They are astounding in the wealth of their collections and the new perspective they offer of cultures from all over the world.

Brussels is known for its local waffles, its chocolate, its French fries and its numerous types of beers. The Brussels sprout was first cultivated in Brussels, hence the name.

Brussel’s gastronomic offerings include approximately 1,800 restaurants with very good food and atmosphere. Connoisseurs consider Belgian cuisine among the best in Europe. In addition to traditional restaurants, there is an overwhelming number of cafes and bistros and the usual range of international fast food chains. The cafes are similar to bars that offer beers and small dishes. Also widespread are so-called brasseries that offer a large number of beers and typical national foods.

Belgian waffles

Belgian cuisine is characterized by the combination of French cuisine with more hearty Flemish recipes. Culinary specialties include Brussel’s waffles (Gaufres) and mussels (usually served with “Moules frites”–French fries). The city is a stronghold of chocolate and praline manufacturers, with traditional companies like Godiva, Neuhaus and Leonidas. In addition, the Belgian beer enjoys a good reputation—Hoegaarden, Leffe, Duvel, Jupiler, Stella Artois and Kriek (cherry beer) are all examples.

Brussels has become a significant center for international institutions, notably those of the European Union. The city also plays host to the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which is based in the city, along with 1,000 other international organizations and 2,000 international corporations. Brussels is third in the number of international conferences it hosts and is one of the largest convention centers in the world. The presence of the EU and other international bodies means there are more ambassadors and journalists in Brussels than Washington D.C. International schools have also been established to serve this presence.

Art Nouveau in Bruxelles :
Atomium :
Chinese pavilion and Japanese tower :
Memorials, monuments, plaques and statues :

For more information, to go

The following websites also contain extra information:
Fun in Brussels
Belgium Hospitality
Restaurants in the center of Brussels

Restaurant maps
Deltaweb guide to restaurants

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