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Brussels-Capital Region is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels which is the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish one, but is separate from them. It has a population of 1.2 million while its metropolitan area counts over 2.1 million people, the largest in Belgium.
Brussels as European capital
Brussels is a little bit older than thousand years and grew from a small rural settlement on the river Senne. Meanwhile it has become an important city-region in Europe. After the Second World War, it became a major centre for international politics and the home of numerous international organisations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants. De facto it is the capital of the European Union, as it hosts a number of principal EU institutions, together with Luxembourg and Strasbourg. Also the secretariat of the Benelux and the headquarters of NATO are located in Brussels.
Brussels’ spoken languages
Originally Dutch-speaking, Brussels saw a language shift to French from the late 19th century. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual in Dutch and French. But French is now the de facto the main language with over 90% of the population speaking it. It is also increasingly becoming multilingual. English is spoken as a second language by nearly a third of the population and a large number of migrants and expatriates speak other languages.
Brussels’ most striking specialties
Brussels is well known for its cuisine and gastronomy, as well as its historical and architectural landmarks; some of them are registered as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Main attractions include its historic Grand Place, Manneken Pis, Atomium, and cultural institutions such as La Monnaie and the Museums of Art and History. It is also a capital of the comic strip.
Quarters in Brussels with touristic importance
First of all there is the center with its cultural events and festivals between a combination of Gothic, Baroque, and Louis XIV styles on the Grand Place. In this area also there are well known occasions for eating as the Rue de Bouchers or several pubs for beer tasting. Here also the famous Brussels’ waffles are sold. Also in the center are the most gay and lesbian bars. Each year there is a successful gay pride in the city. The Rue Neuve and a lot of galleries are great for shopping. Further away from the center, in Elsene, there is the black neighbourhood, Matonge, with its typical African restaurants and groceries. In a neighbouring community, Etterbeek, you can explore the institutions of the European quarter. Buy the Brussels’ Hop On Hop Off pass to see as much as you want in the most different corners of the city. At the other side of the city, in Laeken, you can visit the Atomium and other sights around the Heizel.
Brussels developed a hate against the car with as a result that the biggest part of the center is now traffic free. It has a well developed public transport net so that you will never have to wait more than five minutes to continue your way through the city by bus, tram or metro.
Most of the national trains use the North-South connection linking the most important railway stations of Brussels. This connection is under the ground so that you will seldom be aware of its existence while just walking through town. From the South station you can travel internationally with express trains.
The airport is in Zaventem on about 12 km from the center. There is also an airport in Charleroi, in the province of Mons, which is especially used for cheap air travel. From the table below you should get an idea about the price of a ticket to Brussels when traveling from an other country.
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