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Belgium Information

 

Located between France and Holland, Belgium has stunning architecture and quaint cobblestone squares and is also famous for its Belgium Beer and Chocolates.  The capital city of Belgium is Brussels and there are also many delightful regions to visit including Flanders and Wallonia. Its immediate neighbors are France to the southwest, Luxembourg to the southeast, Germany to the east and the Netherlands to the north.
                    
                                       

Regions


Belgium consists of three regions, listed from North to South:

    * Flanders: The northern, Dutch-speaking region of the country. It is mostly flat and includes well known cities like Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges.
    * Brussels: Within Flanders, the bilingual region of the capital.
    * Wallonia: The southern, French-speaking region incorporating a small German speaking region in the east near the German border.

Brussels


Brussels is known as the ultimate European City and has many museums, concerts, festivals and restaurants.  A must see is the Grand Palace which was built in the13th century and is listed as a World Heritage Site and has many concerts and events held there throughout the year.  There is also The Royal Palace which is the official home of the Belgium King and is open to the public during the summer months.

There is plenty of good eating to be had in Brussels. Most people concentrate on the three classics: mussels (moules), fries (frites) and chocolate. A few more adventurous bruxellois dishes include anguilles au vert / paling in't groen (river eels in green sauce), meat balls in tomato sauce, stoemp (mashed vegetables and potatoes) and turbot waterzooi (turbot fish in cream and egg sauce). For dessert, try a Belgian waffle (gauffre), also available in a square Brussels version dusted with powdered sugar, and choices of bananas, whipped cream and many other toppings. Although many prefer the round, syrup-coated version from Liège.

There are several districts in Brussels of interest to the visitor.

Bruxelles/Brussel - Brussels encompasses many charming and beautiful attractions, with deeply ornate buildings on the Grand'Place (Grote Markt), and a fish-and-crustacean overdose of St. Catherine's Square (Place St-Catherine / Sint-Katelijneplein). Stroll along, (and stop in for a drink) at one of the many bars on Place St-Géry (Sint-Goriks), or max out your credit card on the trendy Rue Antoine Dansaert (Antoine Dansaertstraat).

Ixelles - Elsene - A vibrant part of town with a high concentration of restaurants, bars and other services to satisfy the good-looking or the heavy-spending. Some wandering around will reveal small bookshops, affordable ethnic restaurants or independent record shops tucked away in side streets. The Matongé district just off Chaussée d'Ixelles is the city's main African neighbourhood.

Marolles/Marollen - Not a municipality, but a neighbourhood (part of Bruxelles - Brussel) close to the city's heart. Although this was one of the few places where the Brussels dialect could still be heard, this is rare nowadays. The area is best known for the flea market held daily on the Place du Jeu de Balle (Vossenplein) as well as a plethora of shops selling everything from old radios and bent wipers to fine china and expensive Art Nouveau trickets. Visit on Saturdays or Sundays.

Saint-Gilles/Sint-Gillis - The city's bohemian epicentre with thriving French, Portuguese, Spanish, Maghrebi and Polish communities. The area around the Parvis de St-Gilles (St-Gillisvoorplein) is the arty part, with the area around the Chatelain and the Church of the Holy Trinity being decidedly more yuppified. Like Schaerbeek, Saint-Gilles boasts several Art Nouveau and Haussmann-style buildings.

Uccle/Ukkel - Brussels' poshest commune. Green, bourgeois and starched like all posh communes should be. Uccle has retained many of its charming medieval cul-de-sacs, tiny squares and small townhouses as has nearby Watermael-Boitsfort (Watermaal-Bosvoorde).

Landmarks:

Grand Place-Grote Markt - Surrounded by the city tower and a range of beautiful 300 year old buildings. In the evening, surrounded by bright lumination, it is simply ravishing. Some evenings a music and light show is provided with the buildings serving as a canvas. Have a "gaufre de Liège-Luikse wafel" here (Belgian waffle with caramelized sugar)—the best ones are available from the little shops off the northeast corner of the Grand Place-Grote Markt.

Manneken Pis - Just a short walk from the Grand Place-Grote Markt is the Manneken Pis, a small bronze statue thought to represent the "irreverent spirit" of Brussels. This statue of a child performing one of Nature's most basic functions is believed to have been inspired either by a child who, while in a tree, found a special way to drive away invading troops. Belgians have created hundred of outfits for this statue. One story goes that a father was missing his child and made a declaration to the city that when he found him he would build a statue of him, doing whatever it was that he was doing. Thus, a statue of a litle boy peeing was created.

Atomium - built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair (Expo ’58), it