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Brussels

Brussels

Citi Breaks to Brussels

Brussels, a city that continues to surprise and move you. This city-region-capital of 500 million Europeans is waiting to share its treasures with you.

It’s a fair bet that its stormy history is the reason for its open-mindedness, warmth and friendliness.

You’ll feel right at home in Brussels! As well as its historic monuments, Brussels has so much to share with you: its comic strip speech bubbles, its Art Nouveau façades, the talent of its stylists and designers, its delicacies and its surrealism, which can be found on every street corner.

The exact origins of Brussels are disputed. But it was probably the Counts of Louvain who gave a decisive boost to its urban development when, in the mid-11th century, they built a castle and created a chapter of monks devoted to Saint Gudula.

 

The political history of Brussels didn’t begin until the 13th century. That was the time when it became the main residence of the Dukes of Brabant and of their successors, the Dukes of Burgundy (15th century) and Emperor Charles V (16th century).

 

Over the course of the centuries, Brussels became a powerful city economically. It’s undeniable that this progress was closely linked to the city’s success as a residential and political centre. That growth was supported in 1561 with the official opening of the Willebroek canal.

 

As a result of its status, Brussels became a preferred setting for shows of strength. In the 17th century, it was subjected full force to the armed battles between the France of Louis XIV and its European rivals. The French army bombarded the lower part of the city. The rebuilding of the Grand-Place became a town-planning experiment that was unique in Europe, with the most modern and the most conservative examples of architecture of the time standing alongside each other there, with neither winning nor losing.

 

In 1815, Napoleon’s defeat in Waterloo to the south of Brussels brought an end to the French revolutionary period. The Netherlands were unified and Brussels shared the role of capital city with The Hague. In 1830, the whole of Europe was shaken by liberal movements that challenged the existing conservative order. The Dutch were then driven out and the foundations were laid for a new State, Belgium. Brussels became the capital city, residence of King Leopold I and seat of the central political institutions.

 

The second half of the 20th century also saw Brussels becoming the de facto capital of the European Union. The contribution of successive waves of immigration and of the European institutions turned Brussels into a unique multicultural city in Europe.

Round off your journey of discovery by exploring the shops and boutiques! In the past, the upper part of the city was heavily influenced by the middle classes. It’s now almost naturally evolved into an upmarket shopping destination. Avenue Louise and its shopping arcades, Boulevard de Waterloo, Avenue de la Toison d’Or and the side streets are a real hive of creativity and variety. On these legendary thoroughfares, window shopping leads you from Brussels designers to Belgian labels, from luxury articles to big international brands. Creativity is also very evident in the lower part of the city on Rue Antoine Dansaert. Several years ago, designers from the leading fashion schools of Brussels took over the district; boutiques and studios have made it the district for anyone wishing to look at and try on clothes and accessories.

On and around the Grand-Place


The Grand-Place is a Unesco World Heritage site. Its construction began in the 15th century; first, some covered market halls and a few guild houses, then a Town Hall to establish the authority of this centre of trade. It was bombarded by the French army in 1695 and almost completely destroyed. But, like a phoenix, it was to rise from the ashes in 3 years. This is why four styles stand side by side there: it’s a hotchpotch of Gothic, opulent Baroque, Neoclassical and Neogothic.

Mont des Arts and its many museums

Mont des Arts was dreamed up by King Leopold II, who wanted to surround his palace with beautiful things and fine minds. Imagine the wealth of treasures to be found here : within a radius of 300 m there’s the Musée Magritte Museum, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, BOZAR - Centre for Fine Arts, the Coudenberg archaeological site, the Espace cultural ING (ING Cultural Centre), the BELvue Museum, CINEMATEK, not to mention the Musical Instruments Museum. An abundance of culture that you really can’t afford to miss!

Comic strip

Comic strip in Brussels is a sector that’s constantly evolving, it’s living from day to day! Every year, new comic strip frescoes are added to the trail. Specialist galleries and shops are opened, attractions are created, and exhibitions dedicated to various authors or characters are always running all over the region. Two must-see museums of the 9th art are the Belgian Comic Strip Center (Centre belge de la Bande Dessinée) and the MOOF.

The European district

Brussels is the capital city of 500 million Europeans. It’s a city bubbling with life, where there’s always a cosmopolitan ambience on offer, thanks to the mixed nature of its culture, with cultural influences from past and present as well as from here and elsewhere. In the European institutions district, there are a lot of businessmen and businesswomen to the square metre but Place du Luxembourg is a real world stage and the favourite “terrace” of an international crowd who get along well together in every language. Several places worth seeing: the Parlamentarium, Parc Léopold, the Wiertz Museum, the Museum of Natural Sciences and the museums of Parc du Cinquantenaire. And all this just a few yards away from the European Parliament.

Atomium

A seminal symbol of Brussels and unique achievement in the history of architecture: today the Atomium is the most popular attraction in the capital of Europe. It was built for the 1958 World Fair. The Atomium is the representation of an iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times. Visitors can walk through its tubes and spheres and the Atomium also presents a permanent exhibition dedicated to its history as well as temporary exhibitions for the general public.

 

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