Top Ten Belgian Attractions

Top Ten Belgian Attractions

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       Belgium is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU’s headquarters, and those of several other major international organizations such as NATO. Belgium covers an area of 30,528 square km (11,787 square mi), and it has a population of about 11 million people. Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe, Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups, the Dutch-speakers, mostly Flemish (about 60%), and the French-speakers, mostly Walloons (about 40%), plus a small group of German-speakers. Belgium’s two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia. The Brussels-Capital Region, officially bilingual, is a mostly French-speaking enclave within the Flemish Region. A German-speaking Community exists in eastern Wallonia. Belgium’s linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in the political history and a complex system of government. Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries, which used to cover a somewhat larger area than the current Benelux group of states. The region was called Belgica in Latin because of the Roman province Gallia Belgica which covered more or less the same area. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, it was a prosperous center of commerce and culture. From the 16th century until the Belgian Revolution in 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands, many battles between European powers were fought in the area of Belgium, causing it to be dubbed the battleground of Europe, a reputation strengthened by both World Wars. Upon its independence, Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa. The second half of the 20th century was marked by the rise of contrasts between the Flemish and the Francophones fueled by language differences on the one hand and an asymmetrical economic evolution of Flanders and Wallonia on the other hand. These ongoing conflicts have caused far-reaching reforms of the formerly unitary Belgian state into a federal state and a very long political instability.

  1. Brussels
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    Brussels is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union. It is also the largest urban area in Belgium, comprising 19 municipalities, including the municipality of the City of Brussels, which is the de jure capital of Belgium, in addition to the seat of the French Community of Belgium and of the Flemish Community. Brussels has grown from a 10th century fortress town founded by a descendant of Charlemagne into a metropolis of more than one million inhabitants. The metropolitan area has a population of over 1.8 million, making it the largest in Belgium. Since the end of the WWII, Brussels has been a main center for international politics. Hosting principal EU institutions as well as the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the city has become the polyglot home of numerous international organizations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants. Although historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels became increasingly French-speaking over the 19th and 20th centuries. Today a majority of inhabitants are French-speakers, including a significant population of immigrants with French as second language, and both languages have official status. Linguistic tensions remain, and the language laws of the municipalities surrounding Brussels are an issue of considerable controversy in Belgium.
    Links: Top Ten Brussels Hotels, Top Ten Brussels Restaurants, Cities, Top 100 Houses, Palaces, Top Ten Squares, Top Ten Forests, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brussels,
  2. Bruges
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    Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country. The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge (meaning “Brugge aan Zee” or “Bruges on Sea”). The city’s total population is 117,073 (2008), of which around 20,000 live in the historic center. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km² and has a total of 255,844 inhabitants (2008). Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, it is sometimes referred to as “The Venice of the North.” Bruges has a significant economic importance thanks to its port. At one time, it was the “chief commercial city” of the world.
    Links: Top Ten Squares, Top Ten Clock Towers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruges,
  3. Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels): Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde and Maison & Atelier Horta
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    The Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta in Brussels are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “The four major town houses: Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, and Maison & Atelier Horta, located in Brussels and designed by the architect Victor Horta, one of the earliest initiators of Art Nouveau, are some of the most remarkable pioneering works of architecture of the end of the 19th century. The stylistic revolution represented by these works is characterized by their open plan, the diffusion of light and the brilliant joining of the curved lines of decoration with the structure of the building.
    Links: Top 100 Houses, Top Ten Architectural Works by Victor Horta, Top Ten Architects, Top Ten Staircaseshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_Town_Houses_of_the_Architect_Victor_Horta_(Brussels),
  4. Belfries of Belgium and France
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           The Belfries of Belgium and France is a group of 56 historical buildings representing an architectural manifestation of emerging civic independence in historic Flanders and neighboring regions from feudal and religious influences, leading to a degree of local democracy of great significance in the history of humankind. Besides civic belfries, or buildings such as city halls that rather obviously may have rendered a similar service, the list includes religious buildings that also had served as watchtower or alarm bell tower: the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp and the St. Rumbolds Tower in Mechelen Flanders, and the St. Leonard’s Church in Zoutleeuw (Flemish Brabant). Few of them are standalone towers; most are connected to larger buildings.
    Links: Top Ten French Attractions, Top Ten Clock Towers, Top Ten Bell Towers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belfries_of_Belgium_and_France,
  5. Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai
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           The Cathedral of Our Lady is Roman Catholic Church, see of the Diocese of Tournai in Tournai, Belgium. It has been classified both as a Wallonia’s major heritage since 1936
    Links: Top Ten Cathedrals, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tournai_Cathedral,
  6. Plantin-Moretus House–Workshops–Museum Complex
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           The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a museum in Antwerp, Belgium honoring the famous printers Christoffel Plantijn and Jan Moretus. It is located in their former residence and printing establishment, Plantin Press, at the Friday Market.
    Links: Museums and Galleries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantin-Moretus_Museum,
  7. Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons)
    Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons)1
           The Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes are Europe’s largest and earliest Neolithic mines, located close to Walloon village of Spiennes, southeast of Mons, Belgium. The mines were active during the mid and late Neolithic (4,400-3,000 BC).
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neolithic_flint_mines_of_Spiennes,
  8. Links: Top Ten Belgian Hotels, Top Ten Belgian Restaurants, Top Ten Belgian Chocolates, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium,

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