Brussels , Belgium !

I will update and condense this older post on Brussels, capital of Belgium. Well Brussels or Bruxelles has lots of memory to me, and my family, This was one of the first cities we visited even before moving permanently to France as my dear late wife Martine have brother still living near the border I like to write my introductory post about Brussels in specific today, and hope you enjoy the post as I.

Brussels or Bruxelles (FR) or Brussel (NL) is the capital of the  Brussels-Capital Region comprising 19 towns, including the City of Brussels as well as Anderlecht, Auderghem, Berchem-Sainte Agathe, Etterbeek, Evere, Forest, Ganshoren, Ixelles,Jette,Koekelberg, Molenbeek-Saint Jean, Saint Gilles, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Schaerbeek, Uccle, Watermael-Boitsford,Woluwe-Saint Lambert, and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre (French names version) . The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country ,a bit complicated indeed having split into French and Flemish speaking country.

Brussels is the de facto capital of the European Union, the secretariat of the Benelux and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are also located in Brussels. The Royal Palace, where the King of Belgium acts as the  head of state. The Palace of the Nation is located on the opposite side, and is the seat of the Belgian Federal Parliament. The office of the Prime Minister of Belgium, colloquially called Law Street 16 , is located adjacent to this building. This is also the place where the Council of Ministers holds its meetings. The City of Brussels is also the capital of both the French Community of Belgium  and the Flemish Community. The Flemish Parliament and Flemish Government have their seats in Brussels, as do the Parliament of the French Community and the Government of the French Community. Ok ok…

Some of the things to see , walk is great , I have there by train (2 times) , plane (once) and mostly car (lots of times!) but once in, walking is better than public transports in general,(taken tramway and metro but moved about by car as well) I have several, many posts on Brussels and Belgium in my blog and will let you read up on these wonderful monuments.  The neoclassical style of the 18-19C can be seen in the Royal Quarter/Coudenberg area, around the Brussels Park and Royal Square. Other uniform neoclassical ensembles can be found around Martyrs’ Square and Barricades’ Square. The city center has a wonderful concentration of monuments easily walkable such as the Grand’Place, The Art Nouveau style is well represented too with work by the Belgian architects Victor Horta, Paul Hankar and Henry Van de Velde. Good examples can be found in the neighborhoods of Schaerbeek, Etterbeek, Ixelles, and Saint-Gilles. Nice parks in my opinion are the Botanical Garden of Brussels , lovely; Leopold Park, Brussels Park , and my favorite the Parc du Cinquantenaire / Jubelpark.

Brussels is known for its local waffle, its chocolate, its French fries and its numerous types of beers, and reasons enough to come visit the city or country. Belgian cuisine is characterised by the combination of French cuisine with the more hearty Flemish fare. Notable specialties include Brussels waffles (gaufres) and mussels (usually as moules-frites, served with fries). The city is a stronghold of chocolate and pralines manufacturers with renowned companies like Neuhaus, Leonidas , Corné Port Royal, and Godiva. Pralines were first introduced in 1912, by Jean Neuhaus II, a Belgian chocolatier of Swiss origin, in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, in central Brussels. In addition to the regular selection of Belgian beer, the famous Lambic style of beer is predominately brewed in and around Brussels, and the yeasts have their origin in the Senne valley. Shopping is done best by amous shopping areas include the pedestrian-only Rue Neuve (Dutch: Nieuwstraat), the second busiest shopping street in Belgium ,  Avenue Louise lined with high-end fashion stores and boutiques; the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert; as well as the neighbourhood around Antoine Dansaert Street. The Old Market  on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein, in the Marollen neighbourhood, is particularly renowned. The nearby Sablon area is home to many of Brussels’ antique dealers. The Midi Market around Brussels-South train station and Boulevard du Midi is reputed to be one of the largest markets in Europe.

How to move about, reach Brussels and al. There are two main airport located outside the region of Brussels, Brussels-National Airport, located in Zaventem, (taken) 12 km (10 mi) east of the capital; and Brussels South Charleroi Airport, located near Charleroi , some 50 km (30 mi) south-west of Brussels. Water traffic is important even for a land city like Brussels, the port of Brussels. Located near the Sainte-Catherine/Sint-Katelijne square, it lies on the Brussels-Scheldt Maritime Canal (commonly called Willebroek Canal), which connects Brussels to Antwerp via the Scheldt. The connection of the Willebroek Canal with the Brussels-Charleroi Canal, in the very heart of the capital, creates a north-south link, by means of waterways, between the Netherlands, Flanders and the industrial zone of Hainaut (Wallonia). There, navigation can access the network of French canals, thanks to the important inclined plane of Ronquières and the lifts of Strépy-Bracquegnies.

The train; the Brussels Capital-Region has three main train stations: Brussels-South (Sud), Central ( taken once) , Midi (taken twice) , and North (Nord). Brussels-South/Sud is also served by direct high-speed rail links: to London by Eurostar trains via the Channel Tunnel ; to Amsterdam by Thalys and InterCity connections; to Amsterdam, Paris and , and Cologne by Thalys; and to Cologne , and Frankfurt by the German ICE. The City has minor railway stations at Bockstael, Brussels-Chapel, Brussels-Congres, Brussels-Luxembourg, Brussels-Schuman, Brussels-West, Haren, Haren-South, Simonis. In the Brussels Region, there are also railways stations at Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Boitsfort, Boondael, Bordet (Evere), Etterbeek, Evere, Forest-East, Forest-South, Jette, Meiser (Schaarbeek), Moensberg (Uccle), Saint-Job (Uccle), Schaarbeek, Uccle-Calevoet, Uccle-Stalle, Vivier d’Oie-Diesdelle (Uccle), Merode and Watermael.The Midi train station in Brusselshttps://www.b-europe.com/EN/Stations/Brussels-Midi

The Central train station in Brusselshttp://www.belgianrail.be/fr/gares/recherche-gares/2/BRUXELLES-CENTRAL.aspx

Bru gare centrale trains dec12

The Brussels Metro (taken) with underground lines known as premetro has a network consisting  of four conventional metro lines and three premetro lines. The metro network within the region has a total of 69 metro and premetro stations. The metro connects  with six railway stations of the National Railway Company of Belgium, and many tram and bus stops operated by STIB/MIVB, and with Flemish De Lijn and Walloon TEC bus stops.  A comprehensive bus and tram network covers the city with the Brussels tram system consisting of  17 tram lines (taken) making  it one of the largest tram networks in Europe. The Brussels bus network is complementary to the rail network and consists of 50 bus routes and 11 night routes, STIB/MIVB has been operating a night bus network called Noctis. On Fridays and Saturdays, 11 bus routes operate from midnight until 03h.  They run from the centre of Brussels to the outer reaches of the Brussels-Capital Region. The official Brussel transports network STIBhttps://www.stib-mivb.be/index.htm?l=en

Now we go to automobile and you will read Brussels is the most congested city in Europe and so on. Well , I have been driving to it since 1992, and never had a problem on traffic or parking’s underground; the street level can be had if you can be patient . Brussels is the hub of a range of national highways, the main ones being the A10 – E40, from the Belgian coast, Ostend (Oostende) and Ghent (Gent), A12, from Antwerp (Antwerpen), A1 – E19, also from Antwerp (Antwerpen) and the Netherlands, A201, from Brussels National Airport (Zaventem), A3 – E40, from Leuven and Liege, A4 – E411, from Namur and Luxembourg, and the A7 – E19, from Mons, Charleroi and France (mine), Also, national roads such as the N1 (N to Breda), N2 (E to Maastricht), N3 (E to Aachen), N4 (SE to Luxembourg) N5 (S to Reims), N6 (S to Maubeuge), N7 (SW to Lille), N8 (W to Koksijde) and N9 (NW to Ostend). 

The city of Brussels is surrounded by three major concentric peripheral axes: The Ring: peripheral motorway bypassing the 19 Brussels towns; The Grande Ceinture: boulevards (interrupted in the south at Bois de la Cambre); and La Petite Ceinture: a series of eight tunnels and expressways completely encircling the city center, following the route of a medieval wall from the 14-15C that you only crossed at the eight gates that have remained famous such as the gates or Portes de Namur , Hal, Anderlecht, Flanders, Rivage, Laeken, Schaerbeek and Leuven. The Ring road (RO) commonly referred to as the Ring. It is pear-shaped, as the southern side was never built as originally conceived, owing to residents’ objections. And yes this RO or ring is the best way to get to city center just pinpoint your central location and the exit from them and you are off; once at final destination parked and walk, lovely ! A great private Fandom webpage with good info on the Ring road in French: https://routes.fandom.com/wiki/Ring_belge_R0

The LEZ is the Low Emission Zone that has been implemented in the city to improve air quality and public health. This regulation concerns vehicles registered in Belgium and abroad under 3.5T: cars, vans and buses. The area includes the 19 towns of Brussels Capital. The Ring (the ring road) is not affected, nor the roads giving access to certain transit car parks, I am still Euro 6 so still can travel to Brussels until 2028, If you renting a car you will be ok, Folks coming with foreign licence plate like France ,needs to register the car before leaving to be safe and sure here : https://lez.brussels/mytax/fr/registration/start

If it turns out that your vehicle is not authorized to circulate in Brussels Capital, you will have several alternative solutions: buy a day pass of 35€ via the LEZ website above (period limited to 8 days per year ) or see if you can benefit from an exemption. You will receive a response from the department concerned within 69 days of your request.
You can always come by car and then use public transports in the city such as P+R park and relay parking or sometimes referred to as “transit parking” or “deterrent parking”.

The Brussels Mobilité , moving around transports infohttps://mobilite-mobiliteit.brussels/en/getting-around-in-brussels

The Brussels Tourist officehttps://visit.brussels/en

The Brussels region tourist office on Brusselshttps://be.brussels/culture-tourism-leisure

A bit of history I like tells us that the official founding of Brussels is usually situated around 979, when Duke Charles of Lower Lotharingia transferred the relics of Saint Gudula from Moorsel to the Saint Gaugericus chapel. Charles would construct the first permanent fortification in the city, doing so on that same island. By the middle ages Lambert I of Leuven, Count of Leuven, gained the County of Brussels around 1000, by marrying Charles’ daughter. In the 15C, by means of the wedding of heiress Margaret III of Flanders with Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, a new Duke of Brabant emerged from the House of Valois (namely Antoine, their son). Through the marriage of Mary of Burgundy (who was born in Brussels) to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, the Low Countries fell under Habsburg sovereignty. After the death of Mary in 1482, her son Philip the Handsome succeeded as the Duke of BrabantIn 1506, he became King of Castile, and hence the period of the Spanish Netherlands beganIn 1516, Charles , who had been heir of the Low Countries since 1506, was declared King of Spain (as Charles I) in the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula of Brussels. Upon the death of his grandfather Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, Charles became the new ruler of the Habsburg Empire and was subsequently elected Holy Roman Emperor (as Charles V). It was in the Palace complex at Coudenberg that Charles V abdicated in 1555. Following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the Spanish sovereignty over the Southern Netherlands was transferred to the Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg. This event started the era of the Austrian Netherlands. The city was captured by France in 1746, during the War of the Austrian Succession, but was handed back to Austria three years later. Brussels remained with Austria until 1795, when the Southern Netherlands were captured and annexed by France. Brussels became the capital of the department of the Dyle. The French rule ended in 1815, with the defeat of Napoleon on the battlefield of Waterloo , With the Congress of Vienna, the Southern Netherlands joined the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, under William I of Orange. The former Dyle department became the province of South Brabant, with Brussels as its capital. In 1830, the Belgian revolution took place in Brussels, after a performance of Auber’s opera La Muette de Portici at La Monnaie theatre. Brussels became the capital and seat of government of the new nation. South Brabant was renamed simply Brabant, with Brussels as its capital. On 21 July 1831, Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians, ascended the throne, undertaking the destruction of the city walls and the construction of many buildings. During WWI, Brussels was an occupied city, but German troops did not cause much damage. During WWII, the city was again occupied, and was spared major damage during its occupation by Nazis forces, before it was liberated by the British Guards Armored Division, on 3 September 1944. The Brussels-Capital Region was formed on 18 June 1989, after a constitutional reform in 1988. It has bilingual status and it is one of the three federal regions of Belgium, along with Flanders (Flemish) and Wallonia (French).

There you go folks, a dandy pretty city we enjoy visiting over the years , and always looking forward for more in the future, Brussels, capital of Belgium , enjoy it as we do. Do take a look at my previous posts for plenty of info and pictures.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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3 Comments to “Brussels , Belgium !”

  1. Nice introduction to Brussels.

    Liked by 1 person

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