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Brussels, Belgium serves as the capital city for the country of Belgium and in many ways, is the “de facto” political capital of the European Union. As a primary center for international politics since World War II, Brussels plays host to the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a number of European Union governing bodies such as the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament. Although Brussels has a significant history with references as early as the 6th century AD, much of the old city was destroyed during the Belgian Revolution that took place in the early 19th century and replaced with more modern buildings. A small historic center of the city was preserved with its grand buildings. Grand Place (or Grote Markt) is that central square of Brussels displaying medieval buildings such as the Brussels Town Hall, with its 96 metre high tower capped with a statue of St. Michael slaying a demon.
Among the favorite places of visitors to Brussels is the Atomium, the icon of the World’s Fair held in Brussels in 1958. The multiple spheres containing exhibit halls and public spaces that make up this architectural masterpiece tower 102 metres high and are connected by escalators providing an incredible panorama of Brussels from the top sphere. Other sites of interest include the Statue of Europe (aka Unity in Peace), the Basilica Keokelberg (the 5th largest church in the world) and the famous Manneken Pis said to represent the irreverent spirit of Brussels with this bronze representation of a child performing one of nature’s most basic functions.
Brussels has its fair share of museums and galleries including the Musical Instrument Museum and its 7,000 instruments from all over the globe. The Royal Museum of Central Africa, housing a stunning collection of ethnographic objects that is considered unique in the world is also on many visitors lists. The Natural Sciences Museum of Belgium exhibits a very special collection of dinosaurs that were unearthed in a coal mine in Belgium. There are exhibit halls displaying collections of ancient art works, fine art and the Art Noveau collections of Belgium’s best known practitioner, Victor Horta . Other institutions honor comic strips, the Belgian film industry, book binding and the history of automobiles.
Tourists also enjoy the presentations at the “Bozar” or Palais des Beaux-Arts (construction was completed in 1928). The Bozar is a collection of concert halls, theaters and lecture rooms dedicated to Dance, Film, Architecture, Literature and Music. Eating and drinking in Brussels is an adventure in itself. Restaurants abound from those that appeal to bohemian instincts to fine dining at Michelin three star establishments. Brussels also boasts wonderful offerings of chocolates and beer in the inimitable Belgian style along with the world famous Belgian Waffles.
Your dreams may include a visit to a truly cosmopolitan city at the center of world politics complemented by world class museums, beautiful parks, monuments and trendy bars and restaurants. Add a trip to Brussels, Belgium to your list today and start planning your itinerary.
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