Brussels is the largest city in Belgium and is considered to be the de factor capital of the European Union. The city covers an area of over sixty-two square miles and has a population that exceeds one million residents. This city serves as the administrative center of Europe and its economy is service oriented. The city contains a large number of European institutions and multinational corporations. The educational needs of the city are serviced by several universities.
Some prestigious universities:
- Universite Libre de Bruxelles
- Vrije Universiteit Brussel
- Katholieke Universiteit Brussel
- the Royal Military Academy
- Koninklijk Conservatorium
- Facultes Universitaires Saint-Louis
Brussels can trace its history to the construction of a chapel by St. Gaugericus in the sixth century. After the construction of the chapel, a small community began to sprout up around it. But, the official founding of the city wouldn’t begin until the late tenth century, when Duke Charles moved the relics of Saint Gudula from Moorsel to the chapel in what would become Brussels. This duke would also construct a fortification in the same area. When Lambert I of Leuven married Duke Charles’ daughter, the possession of the city was transfered to him in the early eleventh century.
The city would then move on to become an important trade route and had a very prosperous trade with cities such as Cologne, Bruges and Ghent. This spurred signicant economic activity in the city, and as a result the city went through a period of fast expansion. When the population of the city topped thirty thousand residents, the marshes surrounding the city were drained to accommodate the new residents. Walls were then constructed around the city and it continued on its rapid rate of expansion. In order to facilitate the further expansion of the city, a second set of walls were built further out in the fourteenth century.
During the seventeenth century, King Louis XIV sent French troops to bombard Brussels. This bombardment was the single most damaging event to happen to the city and destroyed over four thousand buildings, which was over a third of the city at the time. The reconstruction of the city over the next few years, dramatically altered its appearance. This can still be seen to this day. The next major event to grip the city was the Belgian Revolution in 1830. This was followed by the ascension of Leopold I to the throne. His first major undertaking as king was to tear down the city walls and start the construction of many public buildings. During World War II, the city suffered damage, but it was light compared to other cities in Europe.
Today, the city of Brussels is a bustling urban center that is known for its many restaurants and gastronomic pleasures. The city is also well known for its local type of waffles, French Fries, chocolate and its many different types of beers. Located throughout the city are also many chocolatiers that produce some of the finest chocolates in all of Europe. Brussels has over eighteen hundred different restaurants, bars, cafes and bistros. Restaurants in the city include the Atomium Restaurant, Maison du Cygne, Vincents, In ‘t Spinnekopke and Leopold. Brussels is also a city that is known for its many historic and tourists attractions. A popular attraction in the city is Grand Place.
Grand Place is the central square of the city and is surrounded by buildings such as Brussels City Hall, the Bread House and various guildhalls. It attracts many tourists each and every year and is the most known landmark in all the city. It is also listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The square measures two hundred and twenty feet by three hundred and sixty feet. Grand Place has a rich history that can be traced back to the eleventh century, when an open air market was established in the area of the modern square. During the fourteenth century, several improvements were made to the square to define its footprint. These improvements included the removal of several buildings which were seen to distract from the flow of the square. Brussels City Hall was erected on the south side of the square between 1401 and 1455. This transformed the square into the municipal seat of the city. It rises over three hundred feet and is topped by a twelve foot statue of St. Michael slaying a demon.
Another popular attraction in Brussels is St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral is situated in the city at Treurenberg Hill and features a forty-nine bell carillion in its southern tower. This cathedral was erected in the eleventh century in honor of the patron saints St. Michael and St. Gudula, which are also the patron saints of the city. During the thirteenth century, the cathedral went through a massive renovation and was redesigned in the Gothic style. Other major improvements to the church included the addition of a choir in the thirteenth century and completion of the facade during the fifteenth century. Today, the cathedral is still very much in use and often hosts many national renowned Catholic ceremonies which include state funerals and royal marriages.
The Most Popular Attractions in Brussels
- Royal Museum of Central Africa
- Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
- Musee royal de l’Armee et d’Histoire Militaire
- Museum of Ancient Art
- Place Poelaert
- Laeken Palace
- Basilica of the Sacred Heart
- Palais de Justice
- La Maison des Maitres Chocolatiers Belges
- Notre Dame du Sablon
- Fondation internationale Jacques Brel
- Manneken Pis
- Place du Jeu de Balle
- Flea Market at Jeu de Balle
- La Fleur en Papier Dore
- Royal Palace
- Notre Dame de la Chapelle
- Rue Antoine Dansaert
- Les Galeries Saint Hubert
- Musee des Beaux-Arts d’Ixelles
- Brasserie de Brunehaut Brewery
- Le Chocolatier Manon
Prominent Hotels in Brussels
- Bedford Hotel
- Hotel Metropole
- Royal Windsor Hotel
- Hotel Sofitel
- Radisson SAS EU Hotel