Travel Notes: Europe - Belgium Travel Notes - Updated 21 May, 2023.
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Belgium is a beautiful European country that is known for its rich culture, history, cuisine, and stunning architecture. There are many popular tourist destinations in Belgium, including the charming city of Bruges, the capital city of Brussels, and the historic city of Ghent.
Countries neighbouring Belgium: Holland, Germany, Luxembourg and France.
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Belgium is a small country located in Western Europe, bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest.
Belgium is also called Belgique in French and Belgie in Dutch.
It is a constitutional monarchy and together with the Netherlands and Luxembourg forms the Benelux Countries.
Its capital city is Brussels, which is also the administrative center of the European Union.
Belgium is known for its rich history, diverse culture, and beautiful architecture.
It is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the historic center of Bruges, the Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta in Brussels, and the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp.
It is also known for its contributions to the arts, including the Flemish Primitives in painting, and the famous Belgian comic book tradition.
Belgium has a high standard of living and a strong economy. Its main industries include manufacturing, services, and technology.
It is also an important center for international politics and diplomacy, as the headquarters of the European Union and NATO are located in Brussels.
Belgium is famous for its cuisine, including waffles, chocolate, and beer.
You'll hear a variety of languages in Belgium: Dutch in the northern region of Flanders, French in the southern region of Wallonia, and German along the eastern border.
The majority of the population speak Dutch, formerly known as Flemish, and the rest speak French; the French-speakers making up the larger group in Brussels.
Some people are bilingual, and many Belgians speak English as well.
Belgium is a beautiful country located in Western Europe, known for its medieval towns, historic architecture, delicious food, and world-famous chocolates.
Travel tips for visitors to Belgium.
Antwerp is the second-largest city in Belgium and is famous for its fashion, art, and diamond trade.
The city has a vibrant nightlife and is home to many trendy bars and clubs.
Bruges is a medieval town in northern Belgium and is a must-visit for anyone interested in history and culture.
The town is known for its picturesque canals, cobblestone streets, and historic architecture.
You can also sample some of Belgium's famous chocolates in Bruges.
The capital of Belgium is known for its stunning architecture, including the Grand Place, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can also visit the Atomium, a landmark building that offers breathtaking views of the city.
Ghent is an historic city located in the Flemish region of Belgium.
The city is known for its medieval architecture and beautiful canals.
Don't miss the Gravensteen Castle, a medieval castle located in the heart of the city.
Belgium has an excellent public transport system, including trains and buses. You can also rent a car if you prefer to explore the country at your own pace.
The main railway station in Brussels is the Gare du Midi; the nucleus of the Belgian railway system.
Airlines and Airports:
The Belgian national airline is Sabena.
The Visit Belgium domain (Belgian Tourist Office) have chosen to split their tourist information into three different 'regional' websites.
Visit Brussels - Visit Flanders - Visit Wallonia.
The capital of Belgium, also spelt Bruxelles in French or Brussel in Dutch, is on the Senne River; in the middle of the country.
Brussels is the headquarters of the European Union and NATO.
The town developed from Gallo-Roman settlements in the marshes of the Senne Valley before the 7th century AD and probably derived its name from the Dutch word Broekzelle; meaning village of the marsh.
In 1383 Brussels replaced Louvain as the capital of the Duchy of Brabant and continued to be a seat of government for the next four centuries.
Brabant was amalgamated by the duchy of Burgundy in 1430, then became a possession of the Austrian Habsburgs in 1477.
The city was made the capital of The Netherlands in 1530.
Before the European Commission erected their modern architectural statements, the futuristic, molecular shaped Atomium was a modern symbol of Brussels.
The Brussels theme park attracts visitors to see the mini- replicas of Europe's monuments.
Historical landmarks in the capital of Belgium include a 13th-century Gothic church, famous for its stained-glass windows, the Notre Dame de Finistère, and St Jacques sur Coudenberg.
The Gothic style Hotel de Ville dates from the 15th century; the Palais de la Nation from the 18th- century, and the Palais de Justice from the 19th- century.
Emperor Charles V established Brussels as his northern capital 450 years ago. The Grand-Place, in the centre of the city, has majestic baroque Guild Halls and is a striking testament to Belgium's place in history.
The stock exchange, near the Grand-place, is housed in a neo-classical building topped by Rodin statues.
To the west of La Bourse are some of the city's trendiest watering holes.
The Royal Palace is the king's official residence, built on the site of the old dukes of Brabant's seat; which burned down in 1731.
At the other end of the Parc de Bruxelles is the Belgian Parliament; housed in the 18th-century Palais de la Nation.
Take a city sightseeing tour round the heart of Europe and see the elaborate buildings of La Grande Place then enjoy a beer in the shade of medieval guild houses and browse round the chocolate shops - if you dare.
Leave and re-board the bus as often as you like within the stated validity period of your ticket (usually 24 hours) and enjoy the City of Brussels at your own pace.
Brussels City Sightseeing Tours, with multi-lingual commentary, start from Central Station; every hour, between 10:00 and 18:00, and take about 90 minutes.
Hotel Le Plaza: Bd Adolphe Maxlaan 118-126, Brussels.
Le Plaza Hotel was built in 1930 in the heart of Brussels' historical and cultural district, on a major thoroughfare between the Nord and Midi train stations.
In 1996, Hotel Le Plaza was completely renovated in a spirit of traditional luxury combined with the most modern equipment required.
Antwerp is one of the busiest ports in the world, even though it is located on the Schelde River between the North Sea and Brussels. It is also connected to Liege by the Albert Canal.
Antwerp replaced the walls that formerly encircled the city with a system of boulevards.
The cathedral of Notre Dame is the largest church in Belgium, and contains several paintings by Rubens; who spent most of his life in Antwerp.
The market-place in Antwerp is interesting for the surrounding Guildhouses; built during the Middle Ages, when Antwerp grew into one of Europe's leading trading centres and the first European stock exchange was founded.
Antwerp has also been a centre for diamond cutting since the 16th-century.
The city's fine arts museum contains paintings by several of the Flemish masters.
Northern Europe was one of the centres of the Renaissance during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Flemish painters Hubert van Eyck and Jan van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder were among the outstanding artists of this period.
Rubens and Sir Anthony van Dyck were outstanding in the 17th century, and are regarded by many as two of the most important Flemish painters.
King Albert II became the sixth king of the Belgians on August 9, 1993.
His older brother, King Badouin, had been Europe's longest-ruling monarch at the time of his sudden death on July 31. The former king left no heirs.
Albert's eldest son, Prince Phillipe, was expected to follow his uncle, but Albert's decision not to renounce the throne was considered his duty.
Albert tries to use his role as a symbol of Belgian unity; urging caution against further national dissolution.
The rivers and canals that cut through Ghent divide the city into a number of small islands, which are connected by a network of some 200 bridges.
Every five years Ghent hosts the flower shows called Floralies, attracting visitors from all over the world.
In the suburbs of St Amandsberg is a small, walled town containing numerous small houses, 18 convents, and a church.
700 members of the Beguines sisterhood devote themselves to charitable work.
The Cathedral of St Bavon, with a crypt dating from 941, houses the celebrated 12-panelled Adoration of the Lamb, painted by Hubert van Eyck and Jan van Eyck.
Situated near the ports of Oostende and Zeebrugge, Bruges is a popular weekend destination for many British stocking up on cheaper tobacco and beer. There is even a small smuggling operation between Belgium and Britain.
If you haven't come to northern Belgium for as many packets of rolled tobacco as you can squeeze into a shoulder bag before the ferries turn around, then you will have time to explore Bruges.
There are many medieval buildings in Bruges, including the 13th-century market hall; the Cathedral of St. Salvator; the Chapel of the Precious Blood; the 13th-century church of Notre Dame; and the Hôtel de Ville -- the oldest town hall in Belgium.
Among the art treasures not to be missed are a marble Virgin and Child, attributed to Michelangelo, and paintings by Hans Memling and Jan van Eyck.
The counts of Flanders fortified Bruges in the 9th century and it prospered as a trading port until the rivers silted and the city became known as Bruges-la-Morte; dead Bruges in French.
Construction of the canal between Bruges and Zeebrugge early in the 20th century brought the city back to life.
More than 50 bridges span the canals in the city, and they open for ships to pass.
Get away from museums and churches for a while and learn some more about this beautiful and unique little country.
Be sure to travel around the beautiful Flemish countryside, taking in some of the historic castles and picturesque villages along the way; with stops for chocolate, waffles and of course some Belgian beer - after a brewery tour, of course.
Hotel de Tuilerieen: Dijver 7, Brugge.
This elegant 15th century mansion, with a privileged location alongside one of the most picturesque canals in the historic city of Bruges, has been converted into a luxurious, contemporary hotel.
The Hotel de Tuilerieen is ideal for romantic visitors to Belgium who are looking for a little somewhere special to stay.
It was here that the Germans invaded Belgium during World War I; a strategic move to attack France from the north.
Discover restored trenches, stroll among war graves in Passchendale and Polygon Wood, clamber over craters and bunkers on the preserved battlefield and visit key war memorials
Behold the impressive sight of Menin Gate in Ypers; an imposing memorial to the missing soldiers, inscribed with some 55,000 names, erected on the spot where the soldiers left the city for the battlefront.
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