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Belgium

A brief history of Belgium

Belgium is part of the Roman province called Belgica which gets its name from Belgae, someone of the ancient Gaul. This land was first occupied by Julius Caesar in 57-50 BC. World War I was set off by the Germans invading Belgium in 1914, World War II was set off by Nazi Germany and it overwhelmed Belgium. It was in 1958 when the European Economic Community was born and Brussels, the country's capital, established itself as the de facto capital which is now known as the European Union which all became official in December of 2000 when the government decided they would hold all meetings in Brussels. Today the country is home to more than 20,000 Europeans as well as lawyers, lobbyists, and other professionals as well.

Belgium is a very unique and interesting place to visit. Whether it be because of the three official languages they speak but can also converse in English very well, kind of like their unofficial fourth language. There is beautiful architecture that decorate the cobblestone squares. The food in Belgium is to die for with a gush of taste in every bite and every meal tasting better than the last with a wide variety of restaurants. Belgium is located just perfectly between France and Holland and is no bigger than Maryland. There is a train system that is connected to everywhere in Belgium to make the commute easy, fast, and comfortable for all visitors. Belgium is known as the Essence of Europe being both multicultural and multilingual.

Belgium has very flat land and they call it Low Belgium. There are flat sandy beaches, polders, small hills that rise to about 197 feet. The Middle of Belgium has some rolling hills and rover valleys, but then there is the French Speaking South which is known as High Belgium and rises to 2277 feet above sea level. The architecture in Belgium still represents Austrians, Spanish, French, and Dutch which is seen in the peoples lifestyle as well. The art and architecture in Belgium is Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and Art Nouveau which helps to give people a variety of interests to enjoy their trip to Belgium. The greatest cosmopolitan capital is the city of Brussels, it is also home to the European Union and NATO. The city is also a wealth of international trade and finance companies. 

The history of Belgium has always had something to do with both commercial and cultural exchange and has always been known as one of the best meeting places of Western Europe. Belgium is said to probably have the highest "quality of life" in the world. This is figured by the food, housing, health care, education, infrastructure, their records for high productivity and low poverty, and the respect from the tourists and appreciation of foreigners that live in Belgium. A few other things that are based on a personal view are the good living, pragmatism, food and drink, open mindedness, compromise, and privacy.


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The Royal Palace of Brussels in Belgium

Attractions in Belgium

The Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate is must see place for the fans of Belgian Chocolate. The museum is located very close to Brussels' main market square which is called the Grand Place. Visitors get to discover the world of chocolate starting with its origins and runs through the finished products. Visitors will also learn about the Aztecs and Mayas who were the ones who first started growing cocoa thousands of years ago. Then it will tell the visitors how cocoa finally ended up in Europe. There are posters, video presentations, and display panels that are available all throughout the museum to show how cocoa is grown and processed into chocolate. The part of the museum that everyone seems to like the most is when a master chocolate maker shows how pralines are made in a traditional way.

The Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium is located in Brussels and is a variety of different museums. The museums include Museum History, The Museum of Ancient Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Wiertz Museum, and The Meunier Museum. These museums were founded over two centuries ago and hold about twenty thousand paintings, sculptures and drawings. All of the museums have exhibits for visitors to enjoy and each section has its own style of art. The Modern Art section starts at the end of the 18th century and goes to the modern period. The Ancient Art section goes back to the 16th century. The Antoine Wiertz Museum is strictly a museum devoted to Antoine-Joseph Wiertz between 1806 and 1865. These museums are very interesting and have unique styles for everyone to enjoy as well as learn.

The Grand Place in Brussels is a central market square is surrounded by guild houses, the city's Town Hall, and the Bread House. Grand Place is one of the most popular destinations for tourists as well as the most memorable landmark in Brussels aside from the Atomium and Menneken Pis. Grand Place was first planned out after the construction of the town hall and was right at the center of the city's commercial district. The very first original built Grand Place was a string of buildings constructed between the 15th and 17th centuries in many different styles. On August 13, 1695, the French army attacked and destroyed most of Brussels along with Grand Place. Grand Place was rebuilt within the following four years by the city's guilds.

The Royal Palace of Brussels is known as the official place of King of the Belgians and is in the center of the nation's capital. Today it is not used as a royal residency any longer, the king and his family resides in the Royal Castle of Laeken on the outer part of Brussels. The palace sits right in front of Brussels Park where there is a long square that is called Paleizenplein/Place des Palais which separates the palace and the park. The building visitors see today was built just after the 1900's on the commands of King Leopold II, the grounds however, date back to the Middle Ages.


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The Atomium in Belgium

 

Things to do in Belgium

The Antwerp Zoo is located in the center of Antwerp, Belgium right next to the Antwerpen Central railway station. This zoo is the oldest animal park in the country, it was first founded on July 21, 1843. It is said to be one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe. The animals are always out in the summer and winter as long as it's not too cold. The monkeys have a special inside area along with the fish and reptiles as well. Every so often throughout the day there is a water show with the sea lions. Visitors definitely cant miss the kings of the zoo which include the lions, tigers, elephants, and giraffes. The zoo stays open everyday from 10am until evening time.

The Atomium is one of the most unique buildings in the country and very popular with the tourists as well. Visitors have a choice of whether they want a guided tour or non guided tour. Visitors can visit five of the spheres of the Atomium but the tour is divided into two parts. The upper sphere is only accessible by the lift where visitors will see the restaurant and a panoramic view. The escalator will take the visitors to all the other spheres, the base sphere which is called the Henri Storck Sphere has a permanent exhibit that is devoted to the fifties. The sphere named after the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers has temporary exhibits. The central sphere which is called Waterkeyn sphere has a bar where visitors can get snacks and then there is the kids sphere but it is not available for the public, school groups only.

The Belgian Comic Strip Center is known as a masterpiece of Art Nouveau that was deigned by Victor Horta in 1906. This attractions brings together everything that is related to comedy starting with the prestigious beginnings and goes until the most recent comedy developments. There is over 4,000 square meters of museum space with all comedy related material. There are permanent as well as temporary exhibits to make sure there is never a dead period. The doors to the museum opened on October 6, 1989 and in no time it was a major tourist attraction. This is especially a great attraction for the kids as well as the whole family to enjoy a laugh.

The Cathedral of our Lady is located in Antwerp and is a masterpiece of lace work in stone. This creation first began in 1352 and it became one of the finest gothic buildings in Europe. The design of the cathedral is contributed to Jean Applemans who was also known as Jean Amel de Boulogne. This cathedral was the tallest structure in the Low Countries for many centuries. Even still today the 123 meter tall spire stands above the city which makes it still the tallest building in the city. It was first a church but then became a cathedral in 1559, it replaced a Romanesque church that was built in the 12th century. Many tourists love to explore this cathedral and love the style and design.