– BELGIUM TRAVEL GUIDE –
National capital: Brussels
Population: 10,584,534 people
Area: 30,528 square kilometers
Language: Flemish , French
Belgium is a country, as befits the political center of modern Europe, extremely cosmopolitan. On the streets of the cities you can hear a multitude of languages and see a diversity of nations. Despite its small population, Belgium has a strong group of national minorities. Besides, Belgians, like perhaps no other nation, are able to combine the old with the new, tradition with fashion, high culture with popular culture. And this is exactly how Belgian cities appear: they boast a great cultural heritage – historic buildings and wonderful museums, they have excellent hotels and restaurants and nightclubs. It is in Belgium that thousands of businessmen and officials decide the politics and finances of modern Europe.
-Belgium travel guide –
Belgium’s capital is a very diverse place. It’s a mix of history, medieval buildings and modern architecture. It’s also the seat of the European Union government, and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. Brussels is ideal for a weekend getaway if you like shopping, good food, art, history – you’ll find it all in Brussels. Renaissance townhouses sit alongside glass and concrete structures; quaint chocolate stores sit alongside boutiques of the fashion world’s biggest brands. Brussels is one of the most interesting cities for a short trip to Belgium. There are more than 40 museums in Brussels. If museums and stores are not for you, you can sink into the myriad of cafes from which you can observe city life.
A city with a storied history, the former seat of the counts of Flanders and the largest city in Western Europe of the 13th and 14th centuries, lying at the heart of the Flemish cloth market, is one of Belgium’s most visited cities. The power of ancient Ghent is evident at every turn – tourists are attracted by the beautiful architecture, museums and galleries, full of masterpieces of Western and Flemish painting. The city is home to a famous university (Universiteit Gent), whose origins date back to 1817, and the University Library building is counted among the most famous buildings in the city. One of the most beautiful sights, a must-see on every tourist’s itinerary, is the Cathedral of St. Bavo (13th-16th centuries), where you can admire precious works of art, including what is considered the most outstanding work of Flemish Gothic painting – the Altarpiece of the Mystic Lamb, by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Also worth seeing is Gravensteen Castle, expanded at the turn of two eras (it was built in the 9th and modernized in the 16th century). A contemporary attraction, meanwhile, is the annual flower festival, Floralies Gantoises.
Bruges is one of Western Europe’s most perfectly preserved medieval metropolises, making it an extremely popular tourist destination today. But it’s worth enduring the crowds to peruse some of the richest collections of Flemish art amassed in the local museums and stroll among the narrow streets, admiring the magnificent old houses that stand alongside them. The entire city is also crisscrossed by a network of canals, over which numerous historic bridges span, giving the impression that only yesterday Flanders merchants and barons were strolling along them. Among the most important monuments is the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the highest tower in Belgium (116 meters) and a magnificent collection of classical paintings. The belfry in the market square provides an unusual vantage point from which to enjoy a panoramic view of the entire city; nearby are the 14th-century Town Hall (Stadhuis) and the 12th-century Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig-Bloed Basiliek) boasting a relic in the form of a vial of the Blood of Christ.
Antwerp at one time was one of Europe’s richest cities. The world’s first stock exchange began operations here in 1531, and the city has been famous for its diamond trade for centuries, with up to 80% of the world’s diamond trade reportedly passing through the city. Antwerp has a population of more than 500,000, but it is pleasant to visit and not overwhelming like large metropolises. We start our sightseeing at the historic Antwerpen-Centraal main station, from where it is very easy to walk to the most important sights. Antwerpen-Centraal station itself is one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. The must-see places are the beautiful market square with the town hall from 1561-1565, and two other monuments nearby: the Het Steen castle and the Antwerp St. Mary’s Cathedral from the 13th century. St. Charles Borromeo Church is also very nice. Plenty of other sights and attractions within walking distance, such as the Rubens House, the Diamond Museum or the zoo for families with children. The place is definitely worth a visit, best to just stroll around the center.
The city in the province of Liege, situated in a charming valley that is part of the Ardennes, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belgium. A candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Spa is part of the European cultural route of historic thermal towns. The city is famous for its magnificent thermal facilities, many natural mineral springs and Spa mineral water, exported worldwide, and the nearby village of Francorchamps is home to the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, which hosts the annual F1 Belgian Grand Prix.
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