It’s one of the hippest new tourist cities, recognized for its art, fashion and design. It’s also known to brew some of the finest beers on the planet.
Situated north of France and south of the Netherlands, Belgium sits at the crossroads of Europe and is known for its medieval architecture and delicious beers, chocolate and waffles. This small country was an integral part of the colonization period, leaving a mark on many African countries. It also has a history of being a contested area, with some of the world’s worst battles occurring on its land. This is a site for any war history buff to visit!
Languages: French, Dutch, German
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Government: Parliamentary Democracy
DID YOU KNOW?
- The creator of the famous cartoon hero Tin Tin is a Belgian, and Belgium is the world’s biggest producer of comics per capita.
- The Belgian motorway system is the only man-made structure that is visible from the moon.
- Oil paints were invented in Belgium in the 1400s.
- The first printed newspapers were published in the Belgian city of Antwerp.
- Belgium has a higher density of castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world.
The Belgian climate is similar to most other northern European countries, with a large amount of precipitation throughout the year. Belgium has cooler summers and mild winters with a generally rainy and humid climate. The average temperature is 3°C in winter and 18°C in July.
- Winter: November – April
- Spring: April – June
- Summer: July – August
- Autumn: September – November
Gaining its independence less than 200 years ago, Belgium is one of the newer countries of Europe. Prior to independence, it was a largely disputed area that played the role of a battleground for many of Europe’s biggest combats. First settled by the Celts, Belgium was taken over by the Romans, then the Franks, under the charge of Charlemagne, who fostered arts and commerce in the area. However, after this prosperous period under Charlemagne, his successors failed to keep the country unified and Belgium was split in two: the northwestern section, Flanders, given to the French and the southeastern to the Germans. Flanders became a well-known hotspot of commercial activity and the area entered a period called the “Golden Age of Flanders,” which created strife between France and England. This led into the 100 Years War and Flanders fell to the British.
For the next few centuries, Belgium began to prosper, and France made many unsuccessful attempts to gain control over the country again. It was not until 1831 and the Treaty of Utrecht and the fall of Napoleon that Belgium gained independence from all other powers.
Today, Belgium is an integral part of the European Union. The city of Brussels has been awarded the title of being the capital of the European Union, and the country is also home to NATO headquarters. With its strong political and cultural history, Belgium is a country with much to discover.
Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage City and one of the most beautiful cities in the country. With structures dating back to the 14th century and statuesque cathedrals, this city is not to be missed.
During WWI, Flanders Field was the site of half a million deaths, and today remains a region commemorating those who fell in battle. There are many museums and memorials in the area dedicated to the war and the missing soldiers.
CASTLES IN WALLONIA
In the area of Wallonia, some of the most beautiful castles in Belgium can be found.
Moules Frites are a Belgian delicacy that is not to be missed! The dish consists of mussels with French fries you eat with your hands – so get ready to get your hands sticky!
Head to the diamond capital of the world and in addition to beautiful jewels, you’ll also find stunning medieval architecture and warmhearted people.
Who doesn’t love chocolate? And what could be better than tasting chocolate around the world? Doreen Pendgracs, a globe-trotting chocolate connoisseur, lists her top picks for best chocolate destinations.
From being pelted by oranges to wearing an elaborate Venetian mask; and from waking at 4 am to watch a parade to celebrating a medieval murder — Europeans know how to party during Carnival.
From Turkey’s Boza to Belgium’s Gueze beer, discover Europe from a whole new perspective.
Heading to Northern Europe next month? Our cruising countess, Lynn Elmhirst, is back with some of the best ways to make the most of Ye Olde Europe!