Famously known as the ‘Cockpit of Europe’ because of witnessing numerous battles between the many powers of Europe, Belgium is rich in history and culture. This beautiful country is often considered as the unofficial capital of the European Union as it has a history of hosting the Institution of the European Union at its European Quarters.
Belgium also has an astonishing number of cities for occupying such a small region. It is divided into three main regions on linguistic grounds. The northern Dutch speaking part of the country is known as Flanders. Brussels is the capital of the country which is also a bilingual region. The southern region that is predominantly French speaking is known as Wallonia. The high rate of urbanization has given birth to some very beautiful and exciting cities that one must visit. These charming cities will take your breath away with their ambiance, architecture and richness.
The capital city of Belgium is rich in art, architecture and gastronomy. This wonderful city is located in the central part of Belgium and is surrounded by the Flanders region in the North and the Wallonia region in the South. Though the climate tends to be quite cool and damp, the city is a major tourist attraction. The architecture in Brussels is quite varied. It spans from medieval structures and churches to the postmodern structures of today.
The Grand Place is one of the most famous medieval structures of Brussels. UNESCO designated it as a world heritage centre in 1988. It is situated in the heart of Brussels, and is an important landmark for tourists. The town hall in the old centre with its Gothic architecture is a remarkable sight. The Royal Palace of Laeken is another enchanting and important landmark.
The Atomium is a stunning postmodern structure in Brussels. Built in 1958, this 20th century wonder represents a model of an iron crystal. Standing tall at a height of 102 meters, this structure features nine stainless steel spheres connected by tubes. The top most sphere showcases a panoramic view of the beautiful Brussels.
Some other wonderful attractions of Brussels include the ‘Manneken Pis,’ and The Cinquantenaire Park. Brussels also houses many marvelous museums such as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, The Comic Museum, and Museum of the Army.
Brussels is also well known for its scrumptious waffles, delicious chocolates, fries and of course the various types of beer. There are approximately 1,800 restaurants to choose from in Brussels. The Belgian cuisine is known as one of the most mouth-watering in all of Europe by the connoisseurs, so make sure to get a taste of this city when you’re there.
Belgium’s second largest city has a lot to offer to tourists. This amazing city is known for its diamonds, fashion, its beautiful port, and the wonderful architectures of the Gothic Cathedral and the Antwerp Railway station.
Located along the banks of the Scheldt River, Antwerp boasts of having the second largest port of Europe. Close to the port is the imposing Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady. This beautiful structure can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. The sheer elegance of it is mind blowing. Antwerp also has the pleasure of having the world’s fourth most beautiful railway station.
Besides its magnificent architecture, Fashion is another one of Antwerp’s charms. Being a rising fashion city, ‘Antwerp Six’ is one of the most famous designers that it has produced. The Royal Academy of Fine Arts greatly adds to its status in the fashion world today. The ‘Rubenshuis’ which was the house of famous painter Reuben is now an attractive museum and showcases much of the painter’s life and work.
Some of the places that you must visit are the St. Paul’s Church which features a lovely mix of Baroque and Gothic style of architecture, the Antwerp Zoo which is one of the world’s oldest zoos today, and the City Hall which is the historic center of the town. The beautiful mixture of Gothic and early Renaissance architecture is almost endemic to this region of Europe.
This splendid town is an almost perfectly preserved pre-motorised cities in Europe. Having an abundance of canals, it is quite often referred to as the ‘Venice of the north.’ These lovely canals offer serene and romantic settings during dusk and dawn, so don’t miss the wonderful photo opportunities. The town of Bruges has a very unique sort of charm that very few other cities have.
The Jerusalem church is an extremely unique church with octagonal towers, Gothic stained glasses, and a fine black marble tomb, and a hauntingly beautiful chapel containing the effigies of Christ. The Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk is another marvellous creation of Gothic and Romanesque periods. The church also possesses a stunning Michelangelo sculpture of ‘Madonna with Child.’
One must visit the many museums that Bruges has to offer such as the Choco-Story Museum which displays the transition from cocoa to chocolate, the ‘Diament museum’ which has a large exhibit of diamonds, and the Friet Museum which is the only museum in the world about the evolution of fries.
The Brewery De Halve Maan is a brewery and museum which offers a tour of the beer making process. As Belgian beer is world famous, one should most definitely visit this place to get a good metaphorical or literal taste of the country’s most beloved drink.
Some of the other exciting attractions of Bruges include hot air balloon rides, boat rides in the enchanting canals, and riding the romantic horse drawn carriages. Every year from November to January there is a stupendous snow and ice sculpture festival that displays some of the finest ice sculptures built by professional artists.