Brussels is the capital of Belgium and also the de facto capital of the European Union. The city covers an area of 161.38 sq km and had an approximate population of 1,138,854 in 2012. The earliest trace of the city can be found in a chapel constructed on an island in the river Senne in 580 AD. The town was officially founded in 979 AD, when the Duke of Lower Lotharingia transferred the relics of Saint Gudula from Moorsel to the Saint Gaugericus chapel and constructed a fortified town here. The city got its first walls in the 13th century and began to expand rapidly.
Geographically, the Brussels capital region is located in the northern part of Belgium and is surrounded by Wallonia and the Flemish region. It is located about 60 kms from the North Sea on the valley of the Senne River. The city is shaped like a pentagon and ring roads now surround the city instead of the old walls.
The city enjoys an oceanic climate due to its nearness to the coast. Marine air masses from the Atlantic Ocean regularly influence the area. They also lead to a predominantly wet and cloudy weather.
How to reach (transport)
You can travel to Brussels in the following ways:
- The easiest way to reach Brussels is to fly to the Brussels airport. It is connected to all the major destinations of Europe and also with America. You can also use the Brussels South Charleroi Airport where regular flights are available to all places over Europe.
- Belgium has an excellent network of roads and Brussels has three railway stations. Trains run to a vast number of destinations all over Europe.
- An extensive bus service also exists between Brussels and other parts of Europe.
The rainy climate of Brussels is a major problem when searching for the best time to visit. May and September are the best months for a visit, as they are driest. July and August are the warmest months but they are also quite wet.
Culture (fairs and festivals) and traditions
Several events and festivals are celebrated in Brussels throughout the year. The most important are as follows:
- The Brussels Jazz marathon is a three-day music festival celebrated in a number of indoor and outdoor venues throughout the city. It is held during a weekend at the end of May.
- The Flower carpet is a huge show held every second year at the Grand Palace when thousands of flowers are carefully arranged to represent a piece of Belgian culture. Horticulturists and florists from all over the country come to witness this event.
- The Ommegang is a historic pageant which re-enacts festivities that occurred in the 1500s. Historic costume parades and performances are held.
- During the autumn months, late museum tours are held. These are guided tours of museums with several activities.
- Two annual marathons are held in the city and the route takes you past some of the most beautiful landmarks.
- The Brussels Film festival is a week-long celebration of European films.
- The Christmas market is held in the Brussels city center throughout the month of December with fairy lights, ice sculptures, and the sound and light show at the Grand Palace.
The city of Brussels is full of places of historical interest and archeological landmarks. Some of the most noteworthy sights of the city are as follows:
- The Grand Palace dominates the delicately sculpted 15th century town square and is the starting point of all tours of the city. It is also the venue of a number of cultural performances throughout the year.
- The Peeing Boy or the Manneken Pis draws thousands of tourists. It is a small bronze statue and a fountain. It is not clearly known why the statue was put up and stories abound. More than 700 different costumes have been designed for this boy till date.
- The Atomium Brussels is the structure of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. You can see a beautiful view of the city from its top.
- The Mini-Europe next to the Atomium is a theme park, which shows the famous monuments and sites of Europe.
- The Brussels zoo contains a number of animals from all over the world.
A good stay doubles the joy of your vacation. There are a number of options for accommodation in Brussels for travelers of all budgets. The 5-star hotels include Metropole, Royal Windsor, Le Chatelaine, and Roco Forte. The 4-star hotels include Izhan Avenue, Hotel Charlemagne, Hotel Manos Premier, Radisson Blu, and Le Dome. The 3-star hotels include Floris, Agenda Midi, Noga, and Siru, while the 2-star hotels include La Legende, and Monty Small Design.
Last Updated : 27 November 2013