BRUSSELS (French : _Bruxelles_, (_ listen ); Dutch : Brussel_, (_
listen )), officially the BRUSSELS-CAPITAL REGION (French : Région
de Bruxelles-Capitale_, Dutch : _
Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest_), is
a region of
Belgium comprising 19 municipalities , including the City
Brussels which is the capital of
Belgium . The Brussels-Capital
Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part
of both the French Community of
Belgium and the
Flemish Community ,
but is separate from the region of
Flanders (in which it forms an
enclave ) or
Wallonia . Compared to most regions in Europe, Brussels
has a relatively small territory, with an area of 161 km²
(62.31 sq mi). The region has a population of 1.2 million and a
metropolitan area with a population of over 1.8 million, the largest
agglomeration in Belgium.
Brussels is also part of a large
conurbation which extends between Brussels,
Ghent , Leuven
Walloon Brabant and is home to over 5 million people.
Brussels grew from a small rural settlement on the river
become an important city-region in
Europe . Since the end of the
Second World War
Second World War ,
Brussels has been a major centre for international
politics and has become the home of numerous international
organizations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants.
the _de facto _ capital of the
European Union as it hosts a number of
principal EU institutions (the other administrative centres are
Strasbourg ). The name _Brussels_ is sometimes used
metonymically to describe the EU and its institutions. The
secretariat of the
Benelux and the headquarters of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) are also located in Brussels. Today, it is
considered an _Alpha_ global city .
Historically a Dutch-speaking city,
Brussels has seen a language
shift to French from the late 19th century onwards. Today, the
majority language is French , and the Brussels-Capital Region is an
officially bilingual enclave within the
Flemish Region . All road
signs , street names, and many advertisements and services are shown
in both languages.
Brussels is increasingly becoming multilingual,
being home to many EU institutions, English is also spoken by some of
the population, while a large number of migrants and expatriates speak
other languages, mostly Arabic , Italian and Romanian .
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 Early history
* 2.2 Middle Ages
* 2.3 Early modern
* 2.4 Late modern
* 2.5 20th century
* 2.6 Contemporary
Brussels as a capital
* 4 Municipalities
* 5 Brussels-Capital Region
* 5.1 Political status
* 5.2 Institutions
* 5.3 Agglomeration of
* 6 French and Flemish communities
Common Community Commission
* 7 International institutions
* 7.3 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
* 8 Climate
* 9 Demographics
* 9.1 Population
* 9.2 Nationalities
* 9.3 Languages
* 9.4 Religions
* 10 Culture
* 10.1 Architecture
* 10.2 Arts
* 10.3 Cultural and folkloric events
* 10.3.1 Festivals
* 10.4 Cuisine
* 11 Sports
* 11.1 Football
* 12 Economy
* 13 Media
* 14 Education
* 14.1 Tertiary education
* 14.2 Primary and secondary education
* 14.3 Libraries
* 15 Science and technology
* 15.1 Healthcare
* 16 Transport
* 16.1 Air
* 16.2 Water
* 16.3 Train
* 16.4 City public transport
* 16.4.1 Metro
* 16.4.2 Trams and buses
* 16.4.3 Ticketing
* 16.4.4 Other public transport
* 16.5 Road network
* 17 Security and emergency services
* 18 Parks and green spaces
* 19 Notable people
Twin towns and sister cities
* 21 See also
* 22 References
* 23 Bibliography
* 24 External links
See also Other names of
The most common theory of the origin of the name _Brussels_ is that
it derives from the
Old Dutch _Broekzele_ or _Broeksel_, meaning marsh
(_broek_) and home (_zele_ / _sel_) or "home in the marsh". Saint
Vindicianus , the bishop of
Cambrai made the first recorded reference
to the place _Brosella_ in 695 when it was still a hamlet .
Brussels are known in French as _Bruxellois_ and in
Dutch as _Brusselaars._ In the dialect of Brussels, they are called
Fortifications of Brussels , Belgian Revolution
Francization of Brussels ,
Brussels and the
European Union §
History , and
Timeline of Brussels Charles of Lorraine founded
what would become
Brussels c. 979
During Antiquity , the region now known as
Brussels was already home
to Roman occupation, as attested by archeological evidence discovered
near the centre. The origin of the settlement that was to become
Brussels lies in Saint
Gaugericus ' construction of a chapel on an
island in the river
Senne around 580. The official founding of
Brussels is usually situated around 979, when Duke Charles of Lower
Lotharingia transferred the relics of Saint
Moorsel to the
Gaugericus chapel. Charles would construct the first permanent
fortification in the city, doing so on that same island.
Lambert I of
Leuven , Count of
Leuven gained the County of Brussels
around 1000 by marrying Charles' daughter. Because of its location on
the shores of the
Senne on an important trade route between
Ghent , and
Brussels grew quite quickly; it became a
commercial centre that rapidly extended towards the upper town (St.
Gudula Cathedral , _
Coudenberg _ and _Sablon_ areas),
where there was a smaller risk of floods. As it grew to a population
of around 30,000, the surrounding marshes were drained to allow for
further expansion. The Counts of
Leuven became Dukes of Brabant at
about this time (1183/1184). In the 13th century, the city got its
first walls . After the construction of the city walls in the early
Brussels grew significantly. To let the city expand, a
second set of walls was erected between 1356 and 1383. Today, traces
of it can still be seen, mostly because the _small ring _, a series of
roadways in downtown
Brussels bounding the historic city centre,
follows its former course.
A view of
Brussels circa 1610
Grand Place after the 1695
bombardment by the French army
In the 15th century, by means of the wedding of heiress Margaret III
Flanders with Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy , a new Duke of
Brabant emerged from the House of Valois (namely Antoine , their son),
with another line of descent from the Habsburgs (Maximilian of
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor , married Mary of
Burgundy , who was born in Brussels). Brabant had lost its
Brussels became the Princely Capital of the
Low Countries , and flourished.
In 1516 Charles V , who had been heir of the
Low Countries since
1506, was declared King of
Spain in St. Michael and St. Gudula
Cathedral in Brussels. Upon the death of his grandfather, Maximilian
Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor , in 1519, Charles became the new ruler of the
Habsburg Empire and was subsequently elected the
Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor .
It was in the Palace complex at
Coudenberg that Charles V abdicated in
1555. This impressive palace, famous all over Europe, had greatly
expanded since it had first become the seat of the Dukes of Brabant,
but it was destroyed by fire in 1731. In the 17th century, the city
was a capital of the lace industry.
In 1695, during the Nine Years\' War , King
Louis XIV of
troops to bombard
Brussels with artillery . Together with the
resulting fire, it was the most destructive event in the entire
history of Brussels. The
Grand Place was destroyed, along with 4,000
buildings, a third of all the buildings in the city. The
reconstruction of the city centre , effected during subsequent years,
profoundly changed the appearance of the city and left numerous traces
still visible today. The city was captured by
France in 1746, during
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 1815,
with the defeat of
Napoleon on the battlefield of Waterloo , which is
located south of today's Brussels-Capital Region. With the Congress of
Vienna , 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.
_ Episode of the
Belgian Revolution of 1830_, Wappers (1834)
Place Royale , late 19th century
In 1830, the
Belgian revolution took place in
Brussels after a
performance of Auber\'s opera _
La Muette de Portici _ at La Monnaie
Brussels became the capital and seat of government of the new
nation. South Brabant was renamed simply Brabant , with
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.
Following independence, the city underwent many more changes.
Brussels became a financial centre, thanks to the dozens of companies
put into orbit by the
Société Générale de Belgique . The
Industrial Revolution and the building of the Brussels-
brought prosperity to the city through commerce and manufacturing. In
1835, the first passenger railway built outside England linked
Brussels (Molenbeek ) with
During the 19th century, the population of
considerably, from about 80,000 to more than 625,000 people for the
city and its surroundings. The
Senne had become a serious health
hazard , and from 1867 to 1871, under the tenure of mayor Jules
Anspach , its entire course through the urban area was completely
covered over . This allowed urban renewal and the construction of
modern buildings of _hausmannien _ style along central boulevards,
characteristic of downtown
Brussels today. Buildings such as the
Brussels Stock Exchange (1873), the Palace of Justice (1883) and Saint
Mary\'s Royal Church (1885) date from this period. This development
continued throughout the reign of King Leopold II . The International
Exposition in 1897 contributed to the promotion of the infrastructure.
Among other things, the Colonial Palace (today's Royal Museum for
Africa ) in the suburb of
Tervuren was connected to the
capital by the construction of an 11-km long grand alley.
Solvay Conference in
Brussels was the fifth world
During the 20th century, the city hosted various fairs and
conferences, including the
Solvay Conference on Physics and on
Chemistry, and two world fairs: the
Brussels International Exposition
of 1935 and the Expo \'58 . During
World War I
World War I ,
Brussels was an
occupied city, but German troops did not cause much damage. In World
War II the city was again occupied , and was spared major damage
during its occupation by German forces, before it was liberated by the
Guards Armoured Division on 3 September 1944. The Brussels
Airport in the suburb of
Zaventem dates to the occupation.
After the war,
Brussels underwent extensive modernization. The
construction of the
North–South connection linking the main railway
stations in the city was completed in 1952, while the first Brussels
_premetro_ was finished in 1969, and the first line of the Brussels
Metro was opened in 1976. Starting from the early 1960s, Brussels
became the _de facto_ capital of what would become the European Union
, and many modern buildings were built. Development was allowed to
proceed with little regard to the aesthetics of newer buildings, and
many architectural landmarks were demolished to make way for newer
buildings that often clashed with their surroundings, giving name to
the process of _
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
Wallonia . The yellow iris was chosen as the emblem of the region,
due to the presence of these flowers on the original site of the city.
In 2000, Brussels, along with eight other European cities, was named
European Capital of Culture . In 2014,
Brussels hosted the 40th G7
On 22 March 2016 , three coordinated nail bombings were detonated by
Brussels – two at
Brussels Airport in
Zaventem , and one at
Maalbeek/Maelbeek metro station , – resulting in 32 victims and
three suicide bombers killed, and 330 people were injured. It was the
deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium.
BRUSSELS AS A CAPITAL
Royal Palace of Brussels
Despite what its name suggests, the Brussels-Capital Region is not
the capital of
Belgium in itself. Article 194 of the Belgian
Constitution establishes that the capital of
Belgium is the City of
Brussels , the municipality within the capital region that once was
the city's core.
City of Brussels is the location of many national institutions.
The Royal Palace , where the King of
Belgium exercises his
prerogatives as head of state, is situated alongside the
. The Palace of the Nation is located on the opposite side of this
park, and is the seat of the
Belgian Federal Parliament . The office
of the Prime Minister of
Belgium , colloquially called _Law Street 16_
Wetstraat 16_, French: _16, rue de la Loi_), is located
adjacent to this building. This is also the place where the Council of
Ministers holds its meetings. The Court of Cassation , Belgium's main
court, has its seat in the Palace of Justice . Other important
institutions in the
City of Brussels are the Constitutional Court ,
the Council of State , the Court of Audit , the
Royal Belgian Mint and
the National Bank of
City of Brussels is also the capital of both the French Community
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 .
List of municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region
I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX IX X XI XII XIII XIV
XV XVI XVII WOLUWE-SAINT-LAMBERT WOLUWE-SAINT-PIERRE
The Town Hall of the
City of Brussels municipality
The 19 municipalities (communes) of the Brussels-Capital Region are
political subdivisions with individual responsibilities for the
handling of local level duties, such as law enforcement and the upkeep
of schools and roads within its borders. Municipal administration is
also conducted by a mayor, a council, and an executive.
Belgium was divided into 2,739 municipalities, including the
19 in the Brussels-Capital Region. Unlike most of the municipalities
in Belgium, the ones located in the Brussels-Capital Region were not
merged with others during mergers occurring in 1964, 1970, and 1975.
However, several municipalities outside of the Brussels-Capital Region
have been merged with the
City of Brussels throughout its history
Laeken , Haren , and
Neder-Over-Heembeek , which were merged
City of Brussels in 1921.
The largest and most populous of the municipalities is the City of
Brussels, covering 32.6 square kilometres (12.6 sq mi) with 145,917
inhabitants. The least populous is
Koekelberg with 18,541 inhabitants,
while the smallest in area is
Saint-Josse-ten-Noode , which is only
1.1 square kilometres (0.4 sq mi). Despite being the smallest
Saint-Josse-ten-Noode has the highest population density
of the 19 with 20,822 inhabitants per square kilometre (53,930/sq mi).
A lot of controversy exists concerning the division of 19
municipalities for a highly urbanized region which is considered as
(half of) one city by most people. Some politicians mock the '19
baronies' and want to merge the municipalities under one city council
and one mayor. This would lower the number of politicians needed to
govern Brussels, and centralise the power over the city to make
decisions easier, thus reduce the overall running costs. The current
municipalities could be transformed into districts with limited
responsibilities, similar to the current structure of
Antwerp or to
structures of other capitals like the boroughs in
Paris , to keep politics close enough to the
The commune of Molenbeek has gained a reputation as a safe haven for
Jihadists in relation to the support shown by some residents towards
the bombers who carried out the
Regions of Belgium:
Flemish Region Brussels-Capital Region
See also: Partition of
Brussels ; and Communities, regions
and language areas of
The Brussels-Capital Region is one of the three federated regions of
Wallonia and the
Flemish Region . Geographically
and linguistically, it is a bilingual enclave in the monolingual
Flemish Region. Regions are one component of Belgium's institutions,
the three communities being the other component: Brussels' inhabitants
deal with either the French Community or the
Flemish Community for
matters such as culture and education.
Government of the Brussels-Capital Region and
Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region
The Brussels-Capital Region is governed by a parliament of 89 members
(72 French-speaking, 17 Dutch-speaking, parties are organised on a
linguistic basis) and an eight-member regional cabinet consisting of a
minister-president, four ministers and three state secretaries. By
law, the cabinet must comprise two French-speaking and two
Dutch-speaking ministers, one Dutch-speaking secretary of state and
two French-speaking secretaries of state. The minister-president does
not count against the language quota, but in practice every
minister-president has been a bilingual francophone. The regional
parliament can enact ordinances (French: _ordonnances_, Dutch:
_ordonnanties_), which have equal status as a national legislative
19 of the 72 French-speaking members of the
Brussels Parliament are
also members of the
Parliament of the French Community of
and until 2004 this was also the case for six Dutch-speaking members,
who were at the same time members of the
Flemish Parliament . Now,
people voting for a Flemish party have to vote separately for 6
directly elected members of the Flemish Parliament.
Brussels Region is the only one that is not subdivided into
provinces, nor is it a province itself. Within the Region, 99% of the
areas of provincial jurisdiction are assumed by the
institutions. Remaining is only the governor of Brussels-Capital and
some aides. Its status is roughly akin to that of a federal district .
AGGLOMERATION OF BRUSSELS
Before the creation of the Brussels-Capital Region, regional
competences in the 19 municipalities were performed by the _Brussels
Agglomeration_. The _
Brussels Agglomeration_ was an administrative
division established in 1971. This decentralised administrative public
body also assumed jurisdiction over areas which, elsewhere in Belgium,
were exercised by municipalities or provinces.
Brussels Agglomeration_ had a separate legislative council, but
the by-laws enacted by it did not have the status of a legislative
act. The only election of the council took place on 21 November 1971.
The working of the council was subject to many difficulties caused by
the linguistic and socio-economic tensions between the two
After the creation of the Brussels-Capital Region, the _Brussels
Agglomeration_ was never formally abolished, although it no longer has
FRENCH AND FLEMISH COMMUNITIES
French Community Commission and Flemish Community
Commission Communities of Belgium:
Flemish Community / Dutch
language area Flemish width:1.5em; height:1.5em; margin:1px 0;
border:1px solid black; background-color: #f2536b; color:black;
font-size:100%; text-align:center;"> French Community / French
language area German-speaking Community /
German language area
The French Community and the
Flemish Community exercise their powers
Brussels through two community-specific public authorities: the
French Community Commission (French: _Commission communautaire
française_ or _COCOF_) and the
Flemish Community Commission (Dutch:
_Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie_ or _VGC_). These two bodies each have
an assembly composed of the members of each linguistic group of the
Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region . They also have a board
composed of the ministers and secretaries of state of each linguistic
group in the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region.
French Community Commission has also another capacity: some
legislative powers of the French Community have been devolved to the
Walloon Region (for the
French language area of Belgium) and to the
French Community Commission (for the bilingual language area). The
Flemish Community, however, did the opposite; it merged the Flemish
Region into the Flemish Community. This is related to different
conceptions in the two communities, one focusing more on the
Communities and the other more on the Regions, causing an asymmetrical
federalism. Because of this devolution, the French Community
Commission can enact decrees , which are legislative acts.
COMMON COMMUNITY COMMISSION
A bi-communitarian public authority, the Common Community Commission
(French: _Commission communautaire commune, COCOM_, Dutch:
_Gemeenschappelijke Gemeenschapscommissie, GGC_) also exists. Its
assembly is composed of the members of the regional parliament, and
its board are the ministers – not the secretaries of state – of
the region, with the minister-president not having the right to vote.
This Commission has two capacities: it is a decentralised
administrative public body, responsible for implementing cultural
policies of common interest. It can give subsidies and enact by-laws.
In another capacity, it can also enact ordinances, which have equal
status as a national legislative act, in the field of the welfare
powers of the communities: in the Brussels-Capital Region, both the
French Community and the
Flemish Community can exercise powers in the
field of welfare, but only in regard to institutions that are
unilingual (for example, a private French-speaking retirement home or
the Dutch-speaking hospital of the
Vrije Universiteit Brussel ). The
Common Community Commission is responsible for policies aiming
directly at private persons or at bilingual institutions (for example,
the centres for social welfare of the 19 municipalities). Its
ordinances have to be enacted with a majority in both linguistic
groups. Failing such a majority, a new vote can be held, where a
majority of at least one third in each linguistic group is sufficient.
Brussels has, since
World War II
World War II , become the administrative centre
of many international organizations. The
European Union (EU) and the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) have their main institutions
in the city, along with many other international organisations such as
World Customs Organization and
EUROCONTROL as well as
Brussels is third in the number of
international conferences it hosts also becoming one of the largest
convention centres in the world. The presence of the EU and the other
international bodies has, for example, led to there being more
ambassadors and journalists in
Brussels than in Washington D.C.
International schools have also been established to serve this
presence. The "international community" in
Brussels numbers at least
70,000 people. In 2009, there were an estimated 286 lobbying
consultancies known to work in Brussels.
Brussels and the
European Union Aerial view of
Brussels' European Quarter
Brussels serves as capital of the
European Union , hosting the major
political institutions of the Union . The EU has not declared a
capital formally, though the
Treaty of Amsterdam formally gives
Brussels the seat of the
European Commission (the executive/government
branch) and the Council of the
European Union (a legislative
institution made up from executives of member states). It locates
the formal seat of
European Parliament in the French city of
Strasbourg , where votes take place with the Council on the proposals
made by the Commission. However, meetings of political groups and
committee groups are formally given to Brussels, along with a set
number of plenary sessions. Three quarters of Parliament sessions now
take place at its
Brussels hemicycle . Between 2002 and 2004, the
European Council also fixed its seat in the city. In 2014, the Union
hosted a G7 summit in the city.
Place du Luxembourg , Brussels
View of the
Brussels, along with
Luxembourg and Strasbourg, began to host
European institutions in 1957, soon becoming the centre of activities,
as the Commission and Council based their activities in what has
become the _European Quarter_ . Early building in
sporadic and uncontrolled, with little planning. The current major
buildings are the
Berlaymont building of the Commission, symbolic of
the quarter as a whole, the
Justus Lipsius building of the Council and
Espace Léopold of the Parliament. Today, the presence has
increased considerably with the Commission alone occupying 865,000 m2
within the _European Quarter_ in the east of the city (a quarter of
the total office space in
Brussels ). The concentration and density
has caused concern that the presence of the institutions has caused a
_ghetto effect_ in that part of the city. However, the European
presence has contributed significantly to the importance of Brussels
as an international centre.
Eurocontrol HQ of
Eurocontrol in Haren , Brussels
The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, commonly
known as Eurocontrol, is an international organisation which is tasked
to monitor the European aviation by flight.
and plans air traffic control across European airspace . The
corporation was founded in 1960 and currently has 41 member states.
Its headquarters are located in Haren , on the northeast perimeter of
City of Brussels .
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANISATION
NATO HQ in Haren ,
The Treaty of
Brussels , which was signed on 17 March 1948 between
Luxembourg , the
Netherlands and the United Kingdom
, was a prelude to the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO), an intergovernmental military alliance , and was
a preview of the western European defense against communism .
Today, the alliance consists of 28 independent member countries
North America and Europe. Several countries also have
diplomatic missions to
NATO through embassies in
Belgium . Since 1949,
a number of
NATO Summits have been held in the city. The most recent
NATO summit took place in
Brussels in May 2017.
The organisation's headquarters are located on Boulevard Léopold
III/Leopold III-laan in Haren , Brussels. A new 750 million €
headquarters building begun in 2010 and was completed in 2017.
Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification ,
Brussels experiences an
oceanic climate (Cfb). Brussels' proximity to coastal areas influences
the area's climate by sending marine air masses from the Atlantic
Ocean . Nearby wetlands also ensure a maritime temperate climate. On
average (based on measurements over the last 100 years), there are
approximately 200 days of rain per year in the Brussels-Capital
Region, the second highest amount of any European capital, after
Dublin (Ireland). Snowfall is infrequent, averaging 24 days per year.
In Brussels, there are often violent thunderstorms.
CLIMATE DATA FOR BRUSSELS
RECORD HIGH °C (°F)
AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F)
DAILY MEAN °C (°F)
AVERAGE LOW °C (°F)
RECORD LOW °C (°F)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION DAYS
AVERAGE SNOWY DAYS
AVERAGE RELATIVE HUMIDITY (%)
MEAN MONTHLY SUNSHINE HOURS
Population density of Europe,
Brussels is located between the
largest urban centres
Brussels is located in one of the most urbanised regions of
Rhine-Ruhr , and the
Randstad . The
Brussels-Capital Region has a population of around 1.2 million and has
witnessed, in recent years, a remarkable increase in its population.
In general, the population of
Brussels is younger than the national
average, and the gap between rich and poor is wider.
_-- of which foreigners _
LARGEST GROUPS OF FOREIGN RESIDENTS
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Brussels is home to a large number of immigrants. At the last Belgian
census in 1991, 63.7% of inhabitants in Brussels-Capital Region
answered that they were Belgian citizens, born as such in Belgium.
However, there have been numerous individual or familial migrations
Brussels since the end of the 18th century, including
political refugees (
Karl Marx ,
Victor Hugo , Pierre Joseph Proudhon ,
Léon Daudet for example), from neighbouring or more distant
countries, as well as labour migrants, former foreign students or
expatriates, and many Belgian families in
Brussels can claim at least
one foreign grandparent.
Brussels has a large concentration of immigrants and their children
from other countries, including many of Moroccan (Riffian , Berber )
and Turkish ancestry, together with French-speaking black Africans
from former Belgian colonies , such as the Democratic Republic of the
People of foreign origin make up nearly 70% of the population of
Brussels, most of whom have been naturalized following the great 1991
reform of the naturalization process. About 32% of city residents are
of non-Belgian European origin, and 36% are of another background,
Turkey and Sub-Saharan
Africa . Among all major
migrant groups from outside the EU, a majority of the permanent
residents have acquired Belgian nationality.
Francization of Brussels Estimate of languages spoken
at home (Capital Region, 2013)
French Dutch and French Dutch French and other language
Neither Dutch nor French
Since the founding of the Kingdom of
Belgium in 1830,
transformed from being almost entirely Dutch-speaking (Brabantian
dialect to be exact), to being a multilingual city with French
Belgian French ) as the majority language and _lingua
franca_ . This language shift, the _Francization_ of
Brussels , is
rooted in the 18th century and accelerated after
Brussels expanded past its original boundaries.
Manneken Pis is a well-known public sculpture in
French-speaking immigration contributed to the _Frenchification_ of
Walloons and expatriates from other countries, mainly
France, came to
Brussels in great numbers. However, a more important
cause for the _Frenchification_ was the language change over several
generations from Dutch to French that was performed in
Brussels by the
Flemish people themselves. The main reason for this was the political,
administrative and social pressure, partly based on the low social
prestige of the
Dutch language in
Belgium at the time; this made
French the only language of administration, law, politics and
education in Belgium, and thus necessary for social mobility. From
1880 on, faced with the necessity of using French in dealing with such
institutions, more and more Dutch-speakers became bilingual, and a
rise in the number of monolingual French-speakers was seen after 1910.
Halfway through the 20th century, the number of monolingual
French-speakers surpassed the number of mostly bilingual Flemish
Only since the 1960s, after the fixation of the Belgian language
border , and after the socio-economic development of
Flanders was in
full effect, could Dutch stem the tide of increasing French use.
Through immigration, a further number of formerly Dutch-speaking
municipalities in surrounding
Brussels became majority French-speaking
in the second half of the 20th century. This phenomenon is,
together with the future of Brussels, one of the most controversial
topics in all of
Belgian politics . Bilingual signs in Brussels
Given its Dutch-speaking origins and the role that
Brussels plays as
the capital city in a bilingual country, the administration of the
entire Brussels-Capital Region is fully bilingual, including its
subdivisions and public services. Nevertheless, some communautarian
issues remain. Flemish political parties demanded for decades that the
Flemish part of
Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde _arrondissement_ be separated
Brussels Region (which made Halle-Vilvoorde a monolingual
Flemish _arrondissement_). BHV was divided mid 2012. The
French-speaking population regards the language border as artificial
and demands the extension of the bilingual region to at least all six
municipalities with language facilities in the surroundings of
Brussels. Flemish politicians have strongly rejected these proposals.
The original Dutch dialect of
Brussels (_Brussels_) is a form of
Brabantic (the variant of Dutch spoken in the ancient Duchy of Brabant
) with a significant number of loanwords from French, and still
survives among a minority of inhabitants called _Brusseleers_, many of
them quite bi- and multilingual, or educated in French and not writing
Brussels and its suburbs have evolved from a
Dutch-dialect-speaking town to a mainly French-speaking town. The
ethnic and national self-identification of the inhabitants is quite
different along ethnic lines.
For their French-speaking _Bruxellois_, it can vary from Belgian,
Francophone Belgian, _Bruxellois_ (like the Memellanders in interwar
ethnic censuses in Memel ), Walloon (for people who migrated from the
Wallonia Region at an adult age); for Flemings living in Brussels, it
is mainly either Flemish or _Brusselaar_ (Dutch for an inhabitant),
and often both. For the _Brusseleers_, many simply consider themselves
as belonging to Brussels. For the many rather recent immigrants from
other countries, the identification also includes all the national
origins: people tend to call themselves Moroccans or Turks rather than
an American-style hyphenated version.
The two largest foreign groups come from two francophone countries:
Morocco . The first language of roughly half of the
inhabitants is not an official one of the Capital Region.
Nevertheless, about three out of four residents are Belgian nationals.
In recent decades, owing to migration and the city's international
Brussels is home to a growing number of foreign language
speakers. In 2013, figures cited in the Marnix Plan show that 63.2% of
Brussels inhabitants are native speakers of French, while less than
20% are native Dutch speakers. Just 2.5% speak English as their mother
tongue, but 29.7% of people living in the city claim to speak English
well or very well. Even though some people want English to be used as
an unofficial compromise language between Dutch and French, French
remains the _lingua franca_. And laws still require Dutch and French
translations in most cases. The acceptance of English as a language
for communication with the city's public servants depends entirely on
the knowledge of this language by the public servants, though they
must accept questions in French and Dutch.
The migrant communities, as well as rapidly growing communities of
EU-nationals from other EU-member states, speak many languages like
French, Turkish , Arabic , Berber , Spanish , Italian , Portuguese ,
Polish , German , and (increasingly) English . The degree of
linguistic integration varies widely within each migrant group.
Further information: Religion in
Belgium _ The Great Mosque of
Brussels is the seat of the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium_
National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in
Although historically majority Roman Catholic , especially since the
expulsion of Protestants in the 16th century, most residents of
Brussels are nonreligious, with only about 10% of
attending church services. In reflection of its multicultural makeup,
it hosts a variety of religious communities, as well as large numbers
of atheists and agnostics . Minority faiths include
Anglicanism , Eastern Orthodoxy ,
Judaism , and
Recognized religions and _
Laïcité _ enjoy public funding and school
courses. It was once the case that every pupil in an official school
from 6 years old to 18 had to choose 2 hours per week of compulsory
religion – or _
Laïcité –_ inspired morals. However, in 2015 the
Belgian Constitutional court ruled religious studies could no longer
be required in the primary and secondary education system.
Brussels has a large concentration of Muslims , mostly of Moroccan
and Turkish ancestry.
Belgium does not collect statistics by ethnic
background, so exact figures are unknown. It was estimated that, in
2005, people of
Muslim background living in the
numbered 256,220 and accounted for 25.5% of the city's population, a
much higher concentration than those of the other regions of Belgium.
In 2016, 40% of residents of
Brussels declared themselves Catholics
(12% were practising
Catholics and 28% were non-practising Catholics),
30% were non-religious , 23% were
Muslim (19% practising, 4%
non-practising), 3% were Protestants , 4% were of another religion.
Brussels Capital Region (2016)
Roman Catholicism (40%)
Protestantism (3%) Other
REGIONS OF BELGIUM (1 JANUARY 2005)
PEOPLE OF MUSLIM ORIGIN
% OF MUSLIMS
1 180 531
The architecture in
Brussels is diverse, and spans from the clashing
combination of Gothic ,
Louis XIV styles on the Grand
Place to the postmodern buildings of the EU institutions .
Very little medieval architecture is preserved in Brussels. Buildings
from this period are mostly to be found in the historic centre (called
_Îlot Sacré_), _Saint Géry_ and _Sainte-Catherine/Sint Katelijne_
neighbourhoods. The Gothic St. Michael and
Gudula Cathedral is still a
prominent feature in the skyline of downtown Brussels. Isolated
portions of the first city walls were saved from destruction and can
be seen to this day. One of the only remains of the second walls is
Halle Gate .
Grand Place is the main attraction in the city centre and has
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site since 1998. The square is dominated
by the 15th century
Flamboyant Town Hall (French: _Hôtel de Ville_,
Dutch: _Stadhuis_), the Neo-Gothic _Breadhouse _ (French: _Maison du
Roi_, Dutch: _Broodhuis_) and the
Baroque guildhalls of the Guilds of
Brussels . The _
Manneken Pis _, a fountain containing a small bronze
sculpture of a urinating youth, is a tourist attraction and symbol of
Grand Place of
Brussels , a
UNESCO World Heritage
The neo-classical style of the 18th and 19th centuries is represented
in the _Royal Quarter/Coudenberg_ area, around the
Brussels Park and
Royal Square . Examples include the Church of Saint
Coudenberg , the Palace of the Nation (Parliament
Academy Palace , the
Palace of Charles of Lorraine ,
Egmont Palace , etc. Other uniform neoclassical ensembles can been
found around Martyrs\' Square and Barricades' Square.
Other landmarks in the centre include the Royal Palace , the Brussels
Stock Exchange building (1873) and the Palace of Justice (1883) in
eclectic style, reputed to be the largest building constructed in the
19th century. The
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (1847) are one of the
oldest covered shopping arcades in Europe.
Also particularly striking are the buildings in the Art Nouveau
style, most famously by the Belgian architects
Victor Horta , Paul
Henry Van de Velde
Henry Van de Velde . Some of
Brussels districts were
developed during the heyday of Art Nouveau, and many buildings are in
this style. Good examples can be found in
Ixelles , and Saint-Gilles . The Major Town Houses of the Architect
Victor Horta –
Hôtel Tassel (1893),
Hôtel Solvay (1894), Hôtel
van Eetvelde (1895) and the
Horta Museum (1901) – have been listed
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site since 2000. Another example of
Art Nouveau is the
Stoclet Palace (1911), by the Viennese
Josef Hoffmann , designated a
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site by UNESCO
in June 2009.
Art Nouveau in Brussels
Hôtel Tassel by
Victor Horta (1893)
Hôtel Ciamberlani by
Paul Hankar (1897)
Former _Old England_ department store by
Paul Saintenoy (1899)
_Saint Cyr_ house by
Gustave Strauven (1903)
_Cauchie_ house, with sgraffiti by Paul Cauchie (1905)
Stoclet Palace by
Josef Hoffmann (1911)
Art Deco structures include the Centre for Fine Arts (1928), the
Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg, the Saint-Augustine Church
in Forest (1935), the former House of the Radio building on Flagey
Square (1935–1938), the
Villa Empain in
Ixelles (1934) and the
exhibition halls of _
Brussels Expo_, built for the 1935 World Fair .
The Flagey Building in
Since the second half of the 20th century, modern office towers have
been built in
Brussels (Madou Tower ,
Rogier Tower ,
Proximus Towers ,
Finance Tower , the World Trade Center , among others). There are some
thirty towers, mostly concentrated in the city's main business
district: the Northern Quarter (also called _Little Manhattan_), near
Brussels-North railway station . The South Tower , standing adjacent
Brussels-South railway station , is the tallest building in Belgium
. Along the North-South connection , is the State Administrative City
(French: _Cité administrative de l'État_, Dutch:
_Rijksadministratief Centrum_), an administrative complex in
International Style . The postmodern buildings of the Espace Leopold
complete the picture.
Located outside the centre, in a greener environment, are the
_Cinquantenaire_ park with its triumphal arch and nearby museums, and
in Laeken, the Royal Castle of
Laeken with its large greenhouses and
Museums of the Far East . The
Atomium , a landmark of
Atomium is a symbolic 103-metre (338 ft) tall structure, located
Heysel Plateau , which was originally built for the 1958
World\'s Fair (Expo '58). It consists of nine steel spheres connected
by tubes, and forms a model of an iron crystal (specifically, a unit
cell ), magnified 165 billion times. The architect A. Waterkeyn
devoted the building to science. It is now considered a landmark of
Brussels. Next to the Atomium, is the _Mini-Europe_ park, with 1:25
scale maquettes of famous buildings from across Europe.
Cinquantenaire triumphal arch and museums
Brussels contains over 80 museums . The Royal Museums of Fine Arts
has an extensive collection of various painters, such as Flemish
painters like Bruegel ,
Rogier van der Weyden
Rogier van der Weyden ,
Robert Campin ,
Anthony van Dyck
Anthony van Dyck ,
Jacob Jordaens , and
Peter Paul Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens . The
Magritte Museum houses the world's largest collection of the works of
René Magritte . Museums dedicated to the national
Belgium include the
BELvue Museum , the Royal Museums of
Art and History , and the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and
Military History . The Musical Instruments Museum (MIM), housed in the
splendid _Old England_ building, is part of the Royal Museums for Art
and History and is internationally renowned for its collection of over
8,000 instruments. La Monnaie/De Munt opera house
The city has had a renowned artist scene for many years. The famous
René Magritte and
Paul Delvaux , for instance,
studied and lived in Brussels, as did the avant-garde dramatist Michel
de Ghelderode . The city was also home of the impressionist painter
Anna Boch from the Artist Group
Les XX and includes others famous
Belgian painters such as
Léon Spilliaert and Guy Huygens. The city is
also a capital of the comic strip; some treasured Belgian characters
are Tintin ,
Lucky Luke ,
The Smurfs , Spirou , Gaston ,
Blake and Mortimer ,
Boule et Bill and
Cubitus . Throughout the city,
walls are painted with large motifs of comic book characters; these
murals taken together are known as the Brussels\' Comic Book Route .
Also, the interiors of some Metro stations are designed by artists.
Belgian Comic Strip Center
Belgian Comic Strip Center combines two artistic leitmotifs of
Brussels, being a museum devoted to Belgian comic strips, housed in
the former Waucquez department store, designed by
Victor Horta in the
Art Nouveau style.
Brussels is well known for its performing arts scene, with the
Kunstenfestivaldesarts , the Kaaitheater and
La Monnaie among the most
notable institutions. The
King Baudouin Stadium is a concert and
competition facility with a 50,000 seat capacity, the largest in
Belgium. The site was formerly occupied by the
Heysel Stadium .
Furthermore, the Center for Fine Arts (often referred to as _Bozar_),
a multi-purpose centre for theatre, cinema, music, literature and art
exhibitions, is home to the National Orchestra of
Belgium and to the
Queen Elisabeth Competition
Queen Elisabeth Competition for classical singers and
instrumentalists, one of the most challenging and prestigious
competitions of the kind. The Studio 4 in Flagey cultural centre hosts
Brussels Philharmonic . Other concert venues include Forest
National/Vorst Nationaal ,
Ancienne Belgique , the
Cirque Royal , the
Palais 12 . Also worth mentioning is the Théâtre Royal
de Toone, a folkloric puppet theatre located near the Grand Place.
CULTURAL AND FOLKLORIC EVENTS
Meyboom giants in
Brussels organises or hosts many events throughout the year:
Flower Carpet at the
Grand Place is held every two years in
* The planting of the _Meyboom_ on 9 August, the oldest folk
tradition of Brussels, celebrating the May tree – in fact, a bad
translation of the Dutch _tree of joy –_ is recognised as an
expression of intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.
* The _Ommegang_ _,_ a folkloric costumed procession and spectacle
Joyous Entry of Emperor Charles V when he was
Brussels in 1549, is held every year in July.
* The _Zinneke Parade_ , a colourful, multicultural parade through
the city, has been held every two years since 2000.
* The _Saint-Verhaegen_ (often shortened to _St V_) on 20 November,
a folkloric student procession celebrating the anniversary of the
founding of the
Université libre de Bruxelles and the Vrije
Universiteit Brussel .
Brussels Fair (French: _Foire du Midi_, Dutch: _Zuidfoor_), the
most important fair in Brussels, takes place every year during the
months of July and August and lasts more than a month.
* The _Plaisirs d\'Hiver_ animate the heart of
Brussels in December.
These winter activities were launched in
Brussels in 2001.
Brussels Beach_ (French: _Bruxelles les Bains_, Dutch: _Brussel
Bad_); in summer, the banks of the canal are turned into an urban
Brussels Summer Festival
A large number of festivals animate the
* The Iris Festival, the festival of the Brussels-Capital Region, is
held every year in spring.
Brussels Summer Festival (BSF), a music festival held in August.
Couleur Café Festival , a festival of world and urban music .
* The International Fantastic Film Festival of
Brussels (BIFFF), is
held during the Easter holidays.
* The _KunstenFESTIVALdesArts_, a festival of international
* The Festival of Europe, open day and activities in and around the
institutions of the European Union.
Brussels is known for its local waffle
Brussels is known for its local waffle , its chocolate , its French
fries and its numerous types of beers . The
Brussels sprout , which
has long been popular in Brussels, and may have originated there, is
also named after the city.
The gastronomic offer includes approximately 1,800 restaurants , and
a number of high quality bars.
Belgian cuisine is known among
connoisseurs as one of the best in Europe. In addition to the
traditional restaurants, there are a large number of cafés , bistros,
and the usual range of international fast food chains. The cafés are
similar to bars, and offer beer and light dishes; coffee houses are
called _salons de thé_. Also widespread are _brasseries _, which
usually offer a large number of beers and typical national dishes.
Belgian cuisine is characterised by the combination of French cuisine
with the more hearty Flemish fare. Notable specialities 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 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. Numerous friteries are spread
throughout the city, and in tourist areas, fresh, hot, waffles are
also sold on the street.
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. Kriek , a cherry
lambic, enjoys outstanding popularity, as it does in the rest of
Belgium. Kriek is available in almost every bar or restaurant.
Brussels is known as the birthplace of the Belgian Endive (Dutch:
_witloof_ or _witlof_ ("white leaf"), French: _chicon_). The technique
for growing blanched endives was accidentally discovered in the 1850s
at the Botanical Garden of
Flea Market on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein,
Famous shopping areas include the pedestrian-only Rue Neuve (Dutch:
_Nieuwstraat_), the second busiest shopping street in
the Meir in
Antwerp ) with a weekly average of 230,000 visitors;
Ixelles in the _Matonge_ district;
Avenue Louise lined
with high-end fashion stores and boutiques_;_ the Galeries Royales
Saint-Hubert; as well as the neighbourhood around Antoine Dansaert
Street, which has become, in recent years, a focal point for fashion
and design. This main street and its side streets also feature
Belgium’s young and most happening artistic talent.
Brussels ranks as one of Europe’s best capital cities
for flea market shopping. The _Old Market_ (French: _Vieux Marché_,
Dutch: _Vlooienmarkt_), on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein, in
Marollen _ neighbourhood, is particularly renowned. The nearby
_Sablon_ area is home to many of Brussels' antique dealers. The _Midi
Market_ around Brussels-South station and Boulevard du Midi is reputed
to be one of the largest markets in Europe.
Further information: Sport in
The stadium now known as the
King Baudouin Stadium is the largest in
the country and home to the national teams in football and rugby union
. It hosted the final of the 1972 UEFA European Football Championship
, and the opening game of the 2000 edition . Several European club
finals have been held at the ground, including the 1985 European Cup
Final which saw 39 deaths due to hooliganism and structural collapse.
King Baudouin Stadium is also home of the annual Memorial Van
Damme athletics event, which is part of the
IAAF Diamond League .
Other important athletics events are the
Brussels Marathon and the 20
Brussels Cycling Classic is one of the oldest semi classic
bicycle races on the international calendar.
Anderlecht fans at the
Constant Vanden Stock Stadium .
Anderlecht , based in the
Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in the
Anderlecht municipality, is the most successful Belgian football club
Belgian Pro League with 34 titles. It has also won the most
major European tournaments for a Belgian side.
Brussels is also home
to Union Saint-Gilloise , the most successful Belgian club before
World War II
World War II with 11 titles The club was founded in Saint-Gilles but
is based in the nearby Forest municipality and currently plays in
Second Division . White Star Bruxelles is another football club that
plays in second division.
Racing White Daring Molenbeek , based in the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek
municipality and often referred to as RWDM, was a very popular
football club until it was dissolved in 2002. Since 2015, its
RWDM47 is back playing in the fourth division.
Further information: Economy of
Belgium Brussels' Northern
Quarter business district The
Brussels Stock Exchange
Serving as the centre of administration for
Belgium and Europe,
Brussels' economy is largely service -oriented. It is dominated by
regional and world headquarters of multinationals , by European
institutions, by various local and federal administrations, and by
related services companies, though it does have a number of notable
craft industries, such as the
Cantillon Brewery , a lambic brewery
founded in 1900.
Brussels has a robust economy. The region contributes to one fifth of
Belgium's GDP , and its 550,000 jobs account for 17.7% of Belgium’s
GDP per capita
GDP per capita is nearly double that of
Belgium as a
whole, and it has the highest
GDP per capita
GDP per capita of any NUTS 1 region in
the European Union, at 62,000€ in 2011. That being said, the GDP is
boosted by a massive inflow of commuters from neighbouring regions;
over half of those who work in
Brussels live in
Flanders or Wallonia,
with 230,000 and 130,000 commuters per day respectively. Conversely,
only 16.0% of people from
Brussels work outside
Brussels (68 827
(68.5%) of them in
Flanders and 21 035 (31.5%) in Wallonia). Not all
of the wealth generated in
Brussels remains in
Brussels itself, and as
of December 2013, the unemployment among residents of
There are approximately 50,000 businesses in Brussels, of which
around 2200 are foreign. This number is constantly increasing and can
well explain the role of
Brussels in the European subcontinent. The
city’s infrastructure is very favourable in terms of starting up a
new business. House prices have also increased in recent years,
especially with the increase of young professionals settling down in
Brussels, making it the most expensive city to live in Belgium.
Brussels holds more than 1,000 business conferences
annually, making it the fourth most popular conference city in Europe.
It is rated as the seventh most important financial centre in the
Brussels Stock Exchange , abbreviated to BSE, now called
_Euronext Brussels_, is part of the European stock exchange Euronext
N.V. , along with
Paris Bourse ,
Lisbon Stock Exchange and Amsterdam
Stock Exchange . Its benchmark stock market index is the
Many Belgian newspapers have their headquarters in Brussels, such as
Le Soir , La Libre ,
De Morgen and the news agency Belga . The Belgian
French-language public broadcaster
RTBF , the Belgian Dutch-speaking
public broadcaster VRT , the two regional channels BX1 (formerly
_Télé Bruxelles_) and Bruzz (formerly _TV Brussel_), the encrypted
BeTV channel and private channels
RTL-TVI and VTM are also
headquartered in the city.
Further information: Education in
Belgium The Université Libre
There are several universities in Brussels. The two main universities
Université Libre de Bruxelles , a French-speaking university
with about 20,000 students in three campuses in the city (and two
others outside), and the
Vrije Universiteit Brussel , a
Dutch-speaking university with about 10,000 students. Both
universities originate from a single ancestor university founded in
1834, namely the Free
University of Brussels, which was split in 1970
at about the same time the Flemish and French Communities gained
legislative power over the organization of higher education.
Other universities include the
Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles with
4,000 students, a campus of the Katholieke Universiteit
(offering bachelor & master's degrees in economics
-webkit-column-count: 2; column-count: 2;">
* Royal Library of
* Library of the National Archives of
* Royal Belgian Film Archive (
* The PointCulture
* CERIA Francophone Central Library
* Scientific Library of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural
* Library and Photo Archive of the Royal Institute for Cultural
* Infotheque-Library of the
Federal Public Service Finance
* Library of the National Botanical Garden of
* Central Library of the
Federal Public Service Justice
* Library of the Royal Conservatory of
* Library of the
Museum of Musical Instruments
* Libraries of the
Royal Museum for Central Africa
* Libraries of the
Royal Museums of Art and History
* Library and documentation center of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts
* Library of the Royal Observatory of
* Archives and libraries of the
Université Libre de Bruxelles
* Library of the Saint-Louis University,
* Erasmus Library
* Duden Library
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Main article: Science and technology in
Science and technology in
Brussels is well developed with the
presence of several universities and research institutes.
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences houses the world's
largest hall completely dedicated to dinosaurs , with its collection
of 30 fossilized _
Iguanodon _ skeletons. The Planetarium of the Royal
Belgium is one of the largest in Europe.
Brussels is home to a thriving pharmaceutical and health care
industry which includes pioneering biotechnology research. The health
sector employs 70,000 employees in 30,000 companies. There are 3,000
life sciences researchers in the city and two large science parks : Da
Vinci Research Park and
Erasmus Research Park . There are five
university hospitals , a military hospital and more than 40 general
hospitals and specialist clinics.
Main article: Transport in
Brussels Airlines Airbus A319 landing at
Brussels Airport in
Brussels Region does not have airports on its territory and its
institutions do not manage any. The peculiarity of the Region is that
it is served by two airports located outside its administrative
territory. These are also the two main airports of Belgium:
* Brussels-National Airport , located in the nearby Flemish
Zaventem , 12 km east of the capital;
Charleroi Airport , located near Charleroi
(Wallonia), some 50 km (30 mi) south-west of Brussels.
This particularity can be explained by the fact that the territory of
the Region is in fact nearly entirely urbanized, and like most major
cities of the world, it does not have an airport on its own territory.
_ The Saint Catherine Dock_, Eugène Boudin (1871)
Since the 16th century,
Brussels has had its own harbour, the port of
Brussels . It has been enlarged throughout the centuries to become the
second Belgian inland port. Historically situated near the
Sainte-Catherine/Sint-Katelijne square, it lies today in the northwest
of the city, on the
Brussels-Scheldt Maritime Canal (commonly called
_Willebroek Canal),_ which connects
Antwerp via the
Scheldt . Ships and large barges up to 4,500 tons can penetrate deep
into the country, avoiding break-ups and load transfers between
Antwerp and the centre of Brussels, hence reducing the cost for
companies using the canal, which offers a competitive advantage.
Moreover, 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
The importance of river traffic in
Brussels makes it possible to
avoid the road equivalent of 740,000 trucks per year, almost 2,000 per
day, which, in addition to easing traffic problems, represents an
estimated carbon dioxide saving of 51,545 tonnes per year.
Main hall of
Brussels-South railway station , home to the
Eurostar train service to
Brussels Capital-Region has three main train stations:
Brussels-South , Central and North , which are amongst the busiest of
the country. Brussels-South is also served by direct high-speed rail
London by the
Eurostar train via the
Channel Tunnel (1hr 51
Amsterdam by the
Thalys and _InterCity-Plus_ connections; to
Paris (1hr 50min, 1hr 25 min respectively) as of 6 April
Cologne by the
Thalys ; and to
Frankfurt by the
German ICE (2hr 59 min–3hr 16min). _ High-speed rail networks
Brussels with other European cities (ICE train in the North
The train rails in
Brussels go underground near the centre through
North–South connection , with the Brussels-Central station also
being largely underground. The tunnel itself is only six tracks wide
at its narrowest point, which often causes congestion and delays due
to heavy use of the route.
The City has minor railway stations at Bockstael , Brussels-Chapel ,
Brussels-Congres , Brussels-
Luxembourg , Brussels-Schuman ,
Brussels-West , Haren , Haren-South , Simonis .
Brussels Region, there are also railways stations at
Berchem-Sainte-Agathe , Boitsfort , Boondael , Bordet (Evere) ,
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 .
CITY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company STIB/MIVB is the local
public transport operator in Brussels. It covers the 19 municipalities
Brussels Capital-Region and some surface routes extend to the
near suburbs in the other regions.
Brussels Metro carriage at
Erasmus metro station
Brussels Metro dates back to 1976, but underground lines known
as _premetro_ have been serviced by tramways since 1968. The network
consists of four conventional metro lines and three _premetro_ lines.
The metro-grade lines are M1, M2, M5, and M6, with some shared
sections, covering a total of 40 kilometres (24.8 mi). The metro is
an important means of transport , connecting 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
Trams And Buses
A comprehensive bus and tram network covers the city. As of 2017, the
Brussels tram system consists of 17 tram lines (three of which –
lines T3, T4 and T7 – qualify as _premetro_ lines). The total route
length is 139 km (86.3 mi), making it one of the largest tram
networks in Europe. The
Brussels bus network is complementary to the
rail network. It consists of 50 bus routes and 11 night routes,
spanning 445 km (276 mi). Since April 2007, STIB/MIVB has been
operating a night bus network called _Noctis_. On Fridays and
Saturdays, 11 bus routes operate from midnight until 3 a.m. They run
from the centre of
Brussels to the outer reaches of the
An interticketing system means that a STIB/MIVB ticket holder can use
the train or long-distance buses inside the city. A single journey can
include multiple stages across the different modes of transport. The
commuter services operated by
De Lijn , TEC and NMBS/SNCB will in the
next few years be augmented by the
Brussels RER/GEN network which will
connect the capital and surrounding towns. Since August 2016, paper
tickets have been discontinued in favour of electronic MoBIB cards.
Other Public Transport
Villo! _ bicycles in
Brussels has had a car-sharing service operated by the
Bremen company _Cambio,_ in partnership with the STIB/MIVB and local
ridesharing company _Taxi Stop_. In 2006, a public bicycle-sharing
programme was introduced. The scheme was subsequently taken over by
Villo! _. Since 2008, this night-time public transport service has
been supplemented by _Collecto_, a shared taxi system, which operates
on weekdays between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. In 2012, the _Zen Car_ electric
car-sharing scheme was launched in the university and European areas.
Rue de la Loi /
Wetstraat is one of the city's main streets
In medieval times,
Brussels stood at the intersection of routes
running North-South (the modern Rue Haute/Hoogstraat) and East-West
(Chaussée de Gand/Gentsesteenweg-Rue du Marché aux
Herbes/Grasmarkt-Rue de Namur/Naamsestraat). The ancient pattern of
streets radiating from the
Grand Place in large part remains, but has
been overlaid by boulevards built over the River
Senne , over the city
walls and over the railway connection between the North and South
Brussels has the most congested traffic in
North America and
Europe, according to US traffic information platform
As one expects of a capital city,
Brussels is the hub of a range of
old national roads, the main ones being clockwise: the N1 (N to Breda
), N2 (E to
Maastricht ), N3 (E to
Aachen ), N4 (SE to
Luxembourg ) N5
(S to Rheims ), N6 (S to
Maubeuge ), N7 (SW to
Lille ), N8 (W to
Koksijde ) and N9 (NW to
Ostend ). Usually named
_chaussées/steenwegen_, these highways normally run in a straight
line but sometimes lose themselves in a maze of narrow shopping
The town is skirted by the
European route E19 (N-S) and the E40
(E-W), while the
E411 leads away to the SE.
Brussels has an orbital
motorway , numbered R0 (R-zero) and commonly referred to as the
_Ring_. It is pear-shaped as the southern side was never built as
originally conceived, owing to residents' objections.
The city centre, sometimes known as the _pentagon_, is surrounded by
an inner ring road, the _Small Ring_ (French: P_etite Ceinture_,
Dutch: K_leine Ring_), a sequence of boulevards formally numbered R20
or N0. These were built upon the site of the second set of city walls
following their demolition. The metro line 2 runs under much of these.
Since June 2015, a number of central boulevards inside the pentagon
have become car-free, limiting transit traffic through the old city.
On the eastern side of the city, the R21 or _Greater Ring_ (French:
_Grande Ceinture _, Dutch: G_rote Ring_) is formed by a string of
boulevards that curves round from
Uccle . Some _premetro_
Brussels Metro ) were built on that route. A little
further out, a stretch numbered R22 leads from
Zaventem to Saint-Job .
SECURITY AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
Brussels police is responsible for the security in Brussels. The
19 municipalities of
Brussels are divided into six police zones, all
Brussels Capital Ixelles: the
City of Brussels and
Brussels West :
* 5341 South :
Anderlecht , Forest and Saint-Gilles
* 5342 Uccle/Watermael-Boitsfort/
* 5343 Montgomery :
* 5344 Polbruno :
Brussels Fire and Emergency Medical Care Service, commonly know
by its acronym SIAMU (DBDMH), operates in the 19 municipalities of
Brussels. It is a class X fire department and the largest fire
service in Belgium, in terms of annual operations, equipment and
personnel. It has 9 fire stations , spread over the entire
Brussels-Capital Region, and employs about 1,000 professional
firefighters . As well as preventing and fighting fires, SIAMU also
provides emergency medical care services in
Brussels via its
centralised 100 number (and the single 112 emergency number for the 27
countries of the European Union). It is bilingual (French-Dutch).
PARKS AND GREEN SPACES
Brussels is one of the greenest European capitals, with over 8,000
hectares of green spaces. Vegetation cover and natural areas are
higher in the outskirts, where they have limited the peri-urbanisation
of the capital, but they decrease sharply towards the centre of
Brussels; 10% in the central pentagon, 30% of the municipalities in
the first ring, and 71% of the municipalities in the second ring are
occupied by green spaces.
Sonian Forest ,
A multitude of parks and gardens are scattered throughout the city.
Examples include, in the
City of Brussels :
Brussels Park 11 ha (27 acres)
* Mont des Arts/Kunstberg 1.4 ha (3.5 acres)
* Egmont Park 1.5 ha (3.7 acres)
Leopold Park 10 ha (25 acres)
* Osseghem Park 17 ha (42 acres)
Laeken Park 30 ha (74 acres)
Cinquantenaire Park 30 ha (74 acres)
Bois de la Cambre 122 ha (301 acres)
Royal Greenhouses of
Tenbosch 2 ha (2.5 acres) in Ixelles
Ixelles Ponds 5 ha (12.3 acres) in Ixelles
* Forest Park 13 ha (32 acres) in Forest
* Elisabeth Park 21 ha (51 acres) in Koekelberg/Ganshoren
Duden Park 24 ha (59 acres) in Forest
Josaphat Park 30 ha (74 acres) in Schaerbeek
* Woluwe Park 69 ha (170 acres) in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre
Sonian Forest 4.421 ha (10.920 acres), stretching out over the
three Belgian regions .
Main article: List of people from
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See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in
TWIN TOWNS AND SISTER CITIES
Brussels is twinned with the following cities:
Beijing , People's Republic of
China (since 1994)_
Washington, D.C. ,
European Union portal
Brussels Regional Investment Company
* Outline of
* Statue of
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