Known for being Europe’s capital city, Brussels is the place where most of Europe’s important decisions are made. All of the country’s main motorways lead to the city, making it a city with easy access, together with Brussels-South railway station, which facilitates international traffic, and the airport, which is the fourteenth largest in Europe and sees up to 35 million passengers passing through a year.
Belgium is the country of beer, chocolate and comics, with a charm which is difficult to resist.
Flanked by France to the south, Holland to the north and Germany and Luxembourg to the east, the country is split into two main regions - the Flemish-speaking region (Flanders) and the French-speaking region (Wallonia), with Brussels serving as the capital in the middle.
You can get to Belgium from all continents via one of the two main airports. The Silken Hotel Beralymont is accessible by bus (8-10 EUR) from Brussels South Airport (Charleroi), or by train (15 EUR). It takes just under one hour. The national airport is located a lot closer (around 15 minutes). A taxi will cost 30-35 EUR and the bus 4-5 EUR.
The country, which has a central position in the heart of Europe, was once, in Burgundy times, Spanish, Austrian, French and Dutch. For this reason, it has fantastic history, art, cuisine, architecture and nature.
The cosmopolitan city consists of nineteen neighbourhoods, divided into two languages. The Grand Place is the centre and can be accessed via all communal transport. In centuries past, this square was home to food markets, with the surrounding streets being named after the products you could find there. Nowadays, these markets are no longer there, but the square that Victor Hugo described as "The prettiest square in Europe" continues to be a place you must visit during your lifetime. Here is some further information on the most tourist neighbourhoods:
LE CENTRE (The Centre)
This neighbourhood is the most active in Brussels. The streets are essentially in a pentagon shape and lead to the Grand Place, known by all for its rich ornamentation. It is surrounded by the guildhalls of the City Hall and the Breadhouse. In 1998 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walking through the streets, you will find the Manneken-Pis (meaning "the urinating child"). It is a bronze statue representing a naked child urinating into the fountain basin. It symbolises the independent spirit of the people of Brussels. You will also find “l’îlot sacré” (sacred island), the picturesque area of narrow streets, which is worthwhile seeing.
Buildings such as the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, the Mont des Arts, and shopping centres can also be found in this area.
Place Sainte Catherine was a fishing village, now known as the neighbourhood where you can find excellent seafood restaurants.
The south-east of the region is called "the Upper City", which is home to the Royal Palace, which was ordered for construction by King Leopold II. There you can admire 18th century paintings and architecture. The palace is an example of the Gothic Renaissance architecture. Nowadays, it is the King’s main residence.
Among "De Brouckère” and “Rogier”, you will find a few sites to see such as the Stock Exchange, the fish market, the Red Light District and Brussels Park.
There is also the "Du Cinquantenaire" park, a 45-hectare park on the outskirts of the centre, where there are several museums.
You can also spend a whole day exploring all the shops in this neighbourhood.
Ixelles is like a huge village because of its tranquillity. The "Bois de la Cambre" is spread out over almost the entire neighbourhood with its woods, parks, ponds and the Abbey "de la Cambre", created in 1196. During the religious wars, the abbey was destroyed. Now only part of the initial 14th century construction remains.
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts can be found in this neighbourhood. It is the largest museum in the country and features works of art from William the Conqueror’s personal collection.
"L’avenue Louise" is the country’s most prestigious avenue. It presents a unique elegance and hospitality typical of the art of life in Brussels. It can be compared to Paris’ "Champs Elysées". It is full of shops by famous fashion designers worldwide.
Brussels - the city of a thousand faces... Discover them all!
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