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A nation of many cultures at a crossroads.  The great news here is that you will get along just fine speaking Dutch or French, even German.  But, luckily for Brits and Americans, English is widely understood, also. Being at the center of Northern Europe explains why it is the home of NATO and the EU.

Part of the "low countries" its history is intertwined with The Netherlands and Luxembourg.  Over the last few centuries, control of this area has swung from Spain to France and Austria and to the Kingdom of The Netherlands after 1815. Finally, in 1830, a revolution brought independence to Belgium.

For such a small country, there are so many places to visit! Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Bruges, Liege, and many more. I definitely have to find time to get back here. 



Capital and 5th largest city in Belgium 


City of canals a half hour from The North Sea



In many ways, the center of Belgium.  Geographically, economically, and politically.  This is the Capital of Belgium and the home of NATO and the EU.

But, I came here for the history and architecture.  From the Grand Place to St Michael Cathedral to the Royal Palace.  If you like history, this city is wonderful. 

But, you can also shop at the Royal Gallery, hang out in the Parc du Cinquantenaire or the Mont des Arts.  There is no shortage of activities in Brussels.


Brussels Highlights

Parc du Cinquantenaire and The Triumphal Arch

19th century park located about 3 kilometers southeast of the city center, highlights by an arch completed in 1905. The park, with fountains and gardens, also contains an Art and History Museum as well as an Automotive Museum. 

St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral

Belgium's national cathedral.  A chapel to St Michael existed since the 9th century and in the 11th century a Romanesque Collegial Church was built. Finally, in 1226, the present Gothic church was started. It did not gain Cathedral status until 1962. 

Grand Place

The large square measures 68 meters by 110 meters and is situated in front of the 15th century town hall, Brussels City Museum, and Belgian Brewers Museum. A must see if you want to stand on the cobblestone pavement and be surrounded by Gothic 14th and 15th century buildings. 

Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert

Okay, this isn't quite Milan and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, but it will remind you of it with ornate decorations and glass ceiling.  Feel free to get your walking shoes on and your credit cards handy. Shop til you drop!

Royal Palace of Brussels

working palace of the constitutional monarchy, with tours available in the summer months (after the National Holiday of 21 July until September) through the throne room and other state rooms. Located just a 10-15 minute walk from the center on the Parc de Bruxelles. 

In 2024, the palace is closed for renovations, but can be seen virtually


In the NE of Belgium, in the Flanders region about 15 kilometers to the Sea, this is the  8th largest city in Belgium and is known for its canals.  It is connected by a canal to the port of Zeebrugge (from where I shipped my car back to the US). 

There have been settlements here since the Bronze and Iron Ages. But, the first fortifications were built during the period of Julius Caesar. In later centuries the area was conquered by The Franks, and invaded by the Vikings. By the 11th and 12th centuries, it had become a key trading port. However, silting on the channels began to isolate the city and its strategic value waned.  

The late 19th century saw Bruges transformed into a tourist destination for the British and French and the 20th century building of new access to the sea saw shipping grow. 

Today, highlights include the centered Burg Square with a 14th century town hall, and also the Market Square with a 13th century belfry. Additionally, of course...the canals!



Beach town on the North Sea coast, highlights by Fort Napoleon built in 1811, and the gothic church of St Peter and St Paul. 

The city seems quite quiet in the winter when I visited, but in the summer, this town really get going. The small city of just over 70,000 will grow to nearly 300,000 on peak days. and annual visitors number in the millions.  

A town has existed here since at least 1285 BCE, and over the centuries thrived as a strategic location on the North Sea for fishing and shipping.  Thought still a port, it is now dwarfed by its neighbor that is a half hour away, Zeebrugge. So, today the city relies more on the beaches and casinos. 


Getting around Belgium

In my humble option, don't even think about having a car while visiting Belgium.  Trains are everywhere. Ghent to Antwerp is an hour. Brussels to Liege is an hour. Want to go end to end? Bruges to Bastogne is less than 4 hours by train. 

When you are getting to Belgium, it is connected nicely to neighboring countries also.   Amsterdam to Antwerp is just over an hour by train. Paris to Brussels can be done in 1.5 to 2 hours. Frankfurt to Brussels is just over 3 hours.  There are even different trains from London that take 2-3 hours.  It becomes clear that Belgium really is at the center of so many things!

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