Belgium or the official name Kingdom of Belgium is a country in northwest Europe Bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France and the North Sea. Belgium is a founding member of the European Union And is the location of the head office Like many other international organizations, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In between the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France, Belgium occupies 30,518 square kilometers and is home to 10.2 million people. Belgium is Europe in a nutshell, multicultural and multilingual. Flanders in the north, a flatland criss-crossed by canals, is proud of its great art cities, Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent. To the south in Wallonia, you will find the rolling hills of the Ardennes, numerous castles, and the cities of Liege, Namur, and Tournai.
Belgium is a small country with a population of slightly less than 10 million. It has been a constitutional monarchy since 1830. There are three languages (Dutch, French and German). However, English is widely spoken. Many people think that “Flemish” is a separate and independent language. It’s not. Flemish is just another name for the Dutch language, spoken with a “Belgian” accent. The three regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels) have self-government in many spheres. Belgium has retained its old-world charm in the preservation of its ancient buildings and historical traditions.
Where to go:
1. Brussels City
Brussels is a cosmopolitan city, with a liveliness and an appeal that are intimately related to its role as a crossroads for all of Europe. Architectural styles range from Gothic cathedrals and churches to the gracious classical facades of the Palais des Nations, the Royal Palace and to the many art nouveau and art deco houses in the comfortable neighborhoods where the Bruxellois live. The heart of Brussels and the place to start getting to know the city is the Grand’Place. This historic square, lined with exuberantly ornate guild houses and focused on the Gothic heights of the Hotel de Ville, is widely held to be one of Europe’s finest.
2. Bruges City
Bruges is called ‘the Venice of the North’. This splendid medieval city is one of Belgium’s crown jewels. In no other European city the feel and the look of medieval times are so present as here in this city close to the North Sea. Bruges has a population of about 45.000 people (the old center) or 120.000 people (center together with the suburbs). These numbers clearly show that Bruges is not a tiny miniature city. It ranks, even today, among the important cities of Belgium. It is also the capital of the Belgian province of West-Flanders. A lot of people take day-trips from Brussels to Bruges, but there is to much to see here to fill only 1 day. The best way to visit Bruges is to spend at least one night in one of the many beautiful and cozy hotels.
Later in the evening, when all the tourists have gone, Bruges finds back its charm and quiet of old times. When one is lucky with the weather, a stroll through the tiny medieval streets can be an enchanting experience. Bruges is always beautiful, in the summertime as well as in the wintertime. Lucky visitors will never forget the city after they have seen it on a snowy December or January day. Bruges is unique, in the sense that here the town authorities have done the utmost to preserve the medieval-looking image of the city. Of course, not every stone in Bruges has come to us straight from the Middle-Ages. The 19th century neo-gothic style is more present than one should think. Because of these 19th century renovations, some critics have put Bruges down as a ‘fake’ medieval city. Nevertheless, the combination of old, not so old and new fascinates everyone who first sets foot in Bruges.
3. Ghent City
Ghent is the fourth largest city of Belgium (approx.250.000 inhabitants). It is not as big as Antwerp but bigger than Bruges. It is also less famous among tourists than the often praised Bruges. However, for some people Ghent is the real diamond of Flanders and Belgium. In a unique way Gent has managed to preserve its medieval power while keeping up with the times. The city center alone is a showcase of medieval Flemish wealth and commercial success. Modern Ghent certainly cannot be overlooked in Belgium. The city has an important harbor, thanks to the canal Gent-Terneuzen which allows sea-going vessels to bring their products to the city and its industrial hinterland. Because of the central location in the country, the ‘Flanders Technology’ fair can regularly be organized.
4. Antwerp City
Antwerp as daughter of the River Scheldt and second largest city of Belgium.. The 500.000 inhabitants call it the ‘Metropolis’ (Antwerpians are known in Belgium for not being too modest). This city has so many different facets that it takes a while before one gets to know it thoroughly. Antwerp is a splendid city with numerous architectural highlights, most of which date from the 16th (the golden era of Antwerp) and the 17th century. The destructions of the Second World War, unfortunately, has scarred somehow the fair face of the old town. Still there are enough monuments left for those who like monument-hopping to spend a few days admiring them. The past is also represented by the numerous paintings of Peter Paul Rubens who lived in the Antwerp of the early 17th century.
5. Liège City
Liège is called ‘La cité ardente’ (the fiery city). A city at the crossroads of Northern and Southern European culture. Liège is an old industrial center which faces the challenge of adapting to the 21st century.Nowadays Liége is a rapidly changing city where old meets new. Take a walk through the old city center and discover the typical traffic-free alleys and shopping streets where terraces abound. Visit the central St. Lambert square where a new modern Liège is growing. Take a walk alongside the banks of the majestically flowing Meuse river and see Liège from a distance.