Belgium is a relatively small country in northwest Europe. Its population tops out at around 10.5 million people. Not all Belgian citizens speak the same language or share the same history. The northernmost part of the country is known as the Flemish region with mostly Dutch. In the meantime, in region around Brussels, French is dominant, and Wallon in the southern and easternmost region of Belgium. There are also German speakers in Belgium.
Belgium has seen its fair share of history. You will see many of the country’s historical vestiges on display. The medieval quarters in Brugge, Ghent, Antwerp, and Brussels give insight into a time when the Flemish region was home to some of the most important and wealthy European cities.
Thanks to many of Belgium’s old buildings which survived the wars, visitors can tour a number of cities and towns and see what amounts to some of the most dazzling and interesting architecture on the face of the earth. The medieval quarter in Brugge is a delight that’s hard to explain, and spend some time in Brussels’s central Grand Place and you’ll think that you died and went to architecture heaven.
Sightseeing, museum exhibits, and Belgium’s rich culture and history are just some reasons why a visit to Belgium is so rewarding. Belgium tourism increases in the warmer summer months, but there really isn’t a bad time to give it a go. The country is also renowned for its chocolate, its beer, its mussels, and its French fries, or Belgian fries as it should be.
Here are some of the top attractions in Belgium:
Grand Place in Brussels
The Grand Place in Brussels is simply one of the most beautiful town squares in the world. The square is lined by garbled Baroque guildhouses in Flemish Renaissance style, a tribute to the Baroque ideals of balance and harmony. Grand Place started as a medieval market square, but with the completion of Brussels’ Town Hall in 1444, it became the heart of the town. It is often the site of events and festivals.
The beautiful and well-preserved town of Brugge is quite akin to a time warp in that its old town retains most of its medieval architecture. The Venice of the North, as it is known, is a well-preserved town where the entire historic center has been recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site owing to its network of canals and the 50 bridges which span them. In the 13th to the 15th centuries it was one of the most important centres of trade in Northern Europe.
The Carnival of Binche
There are a bunch of great festivals and events that take place throughout the year in Belgium. Every February on the three days leading up to Lent, the town of Binche puts on its world-famous carnival included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Binche Carnival tradition is one of most ancient and representative of Wallonia. Events related to the carnival begin up to seven weeks prior to the primary celebrations. Street performances and public displays traditionally occur on the Sundays approaching Ash Wednesday which consists of prescribed musical acts, dancing, and marching. A huge numbers of Binche's inhabitants spend the Sunday directly prior to Ash Wednesday in costume. The centre of the carnival's proceedings are clown like performers who are known as Gilles. Make sure you book accommodation in Belgium well in advance.
Belgium Chocolate Tours
All over Belgium, shops, factories, and museums that are dedicated to chocolate are in good supply. You can safely put chocolate tours on the list of things to do in Belgium, and the best part comes when you get to sample some of the product.
Tour a Belgium Brewery
Like Belgian chocolate, Belgian beer is well-known. Belgium produces about 500 different kinds of beer, and that’s not counting the one-off brands, which are only offered for a limited time, then retired or put on hold until the next year. Some of the Belgium breweries are significant Belgium attractions in their own rights, for example: the Stella Artois factory or the Chimay brewery.
Of all the Belgian tourist attractions, Mini Europe is one of the more unique. Located at the foot of the Atomium, it is the only park where you can have a whitlestop tour around Europe in a few short hours. You will find some of the most recognizable European monuments and landmarks at Mini Europe. See shrunken versions of the Tower of Pisa, Montmartre, and the aforementioned Grand Place in Brussels, for instance, not to mention a list of other tantalizing structures. There’s even a bubbling model of Mount Vesuvius.
The battle of Waterloo on June 18th, 1815 ended the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon I was defeated by the Duke of Wellington. There is a lot of battle paraphernalia to visit including the Lion of Waterloo victory monument, a huge man-made hill topped by a 28-ton lion. Visit the battlefield site, the H.Q. of Wellington and Napoleon, the Column of Victor Hugo and the Wellington Museum for an audio-visual reconstruction of the battle.
Avoid regarding Antwerp as some kind of second best to Brussels. This Flemish port is very different to its southern counterpart. And with its fabulous art and architectural heritage and the world’s biggest diamond industry, Antwerp has more than enough to reward the tourist