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Health Care
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For Further Study

Brussels, Belgium, Europe

Founded: 979
Location: Europe, central Belgium, around the river Senne
Motto: "L'Union fait la forceEendracht maakt macht." (Unity is powerful.)
Flag: Yellow marsh iris on a field of blue.
Flower: Yellow (or golden) marsh iris (Iris pseudocorus)
Time Zone: 1 pm = noon GMT
Ethnic Composition: 55% Flemish (Dutch), 33% French (Walloons), 12% Germans and others
Elevation: Sea level
Latitude and Longitude: 50° 50 N, 4° 00 E
Coastline: None
Climate: Moderate temperatures year-round with little snow in the winters, predictable rainfall and mild summers
Annual Mean Temperature: 10° C (50° F), ranging from 3° C (37° F) in January to 18° C (64° F) in July.
Average Annual Precipitation: 70 cm (28 in)
Government: Mayor, congress, and district representatives under a constitutional monarchy
Weights and Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: Belgian franc (BFr)
Telephone Area Codes: 02
Postal Codes: B-1000, B-1020

1. Introduction

Brussels lies in the center of Belgium, with the Senne, a small stream splitting neatly in two around the city center. A popular convention and tourist center, the city is world-renowned for its fine beer, divine chocolate, and Belgian lace. Known as the "Capital of Europe," Brussels hosts the European Union Commission, as well as NATO headquarters, and is regarded as the international meeting hub of the twenty-first century.

2. Getting There

Getting to Brussels is fairly easy due to the advanced state of the city's transportation systems and city planning. Access to the Brussels Capital Region, the Grand Place center of town, and the many museums and shops in the Sablon district is provided by numerous routes that are vital to commerce and tourism.


The total area of Brussels highway system covers 430 kilometers (267 miles) of paved roads. Brussels Ring Road leads to Brussels International Airport, surrounding the Inner Brussels Ring Road which links to the three major train stations. From Brussels, the E40 leads east to Liège and Köln, and west to London. The E19 takes vehicles north to Antwerp and Amsterdam, south to Mons and Paris, while the E411 goes south to Namur and Luxembourg. Brussels roads are known for their foggy conditions, resulting from their proximity to the English Channel and North Sea.

Bus and Railroad Service

There are three main train stations that carry passengers into the city, the North, Central, and Midi (South) stations. The southern station receives the Thalys train from Paris and the Eurostar from London. Belgian Railways (SNCB/NMBS) services trains to and from Brugge, Ghent, Antwerp, Liège, Amsterdam, and Cologne, among other cities. Charter buses and coaches from tour operators also carry passengers into Brussels, such as "De Lijn" buses and "TEC." An airport express runs to and from Antwerp every hour.


Brussels National Airport is actually located in Zaventem, a close suburb of Brussels. Belgavia and Sabena are the main flight operators, but Air Canada, British Airways, Delta, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Finnair, Quantas, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, and Varig also fly into Brussels.

3. Getting Around

The streets of Brussels have grown out of the haphazard planning of the middle ages, making navigation in the city somewhat like traveling a maze. Tourists will need to find a street map in order to successfully get around in Brussels on their own, or find a reliable tour guide.

Brussels Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 951,580
Ethnic composition: 55% Flemish (Dutch); 33% French (Walloons); 12% German and other
Nicknames: City of Beer, Capital of Europe, Company Town (for the European government)

Metropolitan Area

Population: 1,122,000
World population rank 1: 330
Percentage of national population 2: 11.0%
Average yearly growth rate: less than 0.1%

  1. The Brussels metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of Belgium's total population living in the Brussels metropolitan area.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Trains, buses, and the Metro can all be accessed with one ticket at 55 BFr for one hour. The city also provides day cards, ten-drive or five-drive tickets at a reasonable price. The metro is considered very safe and efficient with 58 stations. Five-hundred buses traverse the city, as do 15 tramlines.


In order to get a taxi, tourists must go to a taxi stand instead of attempting to flag one down. Taxis come in all different colors and brands, but a lighted sign on top says "Brussels Gewest-Taxi-Région de Bruxelles," and there should be a yellow and blue license emblem. A taxi from the airport to the city center is 1,000 BFr (about $30).


The Tourist Information Office is located in the right wing of Town Hall, a fifteenth-century structure which towers over the Grand Place town square. Many tours and excursions depart nearby, including De Boeck tours, which have a combined walking/luxury coach tour of the capital.

4. People

The population of Brussels numbers 951,580, most of whom speak French. While the southern Walloons are French speakers, the northern Flemish peoples speak Dutch. A small German enclave also exists in Liège. About one-third of the Brussels populace is made up of foreigners, many of whom work at the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters. The majority of Brussels inhabitants are Roman Catholic; however, there is also an active Jewish community, and Turkish migratory workers, who are Muslim, have a sizable community as well. Tensions between the more affluent Flemish and the poorer Walloons have existed for centuries.

5. Neighborhoods

The Brussels Capital Region is made up of 19 communes: Bruxelles, Jette, Ganshoren, Berchem-St.-Agathe, Koekelberg, Schaerbeek, Evere, St.-Josse-Ten-Noode, Molenbeek-St. Jean, Anderlecht, St.-Gilles, Ixelles, Etterbeek, Woluwe-St.-Lambert, Woluwe-St.-Pierre, Andeghem, Watermael-Boitsfort, Veele, and Forest.

The "petit ring" of the city is divided between the Upper and Lower sections, the more expensive areas being higher up, except for the Grand Place, which lies for the most part in the Lower town. The Gare du Midi area houses mostly immigrants and is more economically depressed than the Gare du Nord area that is still somewhat troubled. Once in the heart of the city, the scenery completely changes, with most of the government buildings and nice shops.

The main town square in the historical city center is called Grand Place, featuring city hall, Hotel de Ville, most administrative offices, and some shops. The Cinquantenaire district, on the edge of the city center, showcases the Triumphal Arch, museums and art nouveau houses, and the European Union Commission, Parliament, and Council of Ministers. To the east of city center, Royal Square houses the royal residency and Parliament, with a number of gardens and pleasant vistas. The Anderlecht area, west of the center, is well known for its soccer team but is otherwise seen as an industrial, drab neighborhood. The Heysel district and Sablon district to the south contain antique dealers and markets, and the fashionable neighborhood of Grand Sablon Square lies in the heart of the Sablon district.

City Fact Comparison
Indicator Brussels Cairo Rome Beijing
(Belgium) (Egypt) (Italy) (China)
Population of urban area1 1,122,000 10,772,000 2,688,000 12,033,000
Date the city was founded 979 AD 969 753 BC 723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy) $123 $193 $172 $129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) $59 $56 $59 $62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) $15 $14 $15 $16
Total daily costs (hotel, meals, incidentals) $197 $173 $246 $207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city 8 13 20 11
Largest newspaper De Nieuwe Gazet Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar La Repubblica Renmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper 307,512 1,159,450 754,930 3,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established 1897 1944 1976 1948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

6. History

At the end of the sixth century, the Preacher Saint Gorik built a chapel on a small island formed by the two arms of the river Senne, creating the first building known to have been built in Brussels. Later, in A. D. 977, the first written record of Brussels declared Charles of France to be the legal owner of Low-Lorraine, including the island of Saint-Gorik, on which he built a fortress. But Brussels was not officially founded until 979, after Lambert of Leuven inherited the land from Charles. During the next three centuries, the city grew as a trading post and popular resting spot on the way to the channel ports, and the marshland surrounding the city slowly dried, opening up more land for habitation. The increased population put stress on the social system of guilds and noblemen, resulting in peasant uprisings that were quickly stifled during the thirteenth century. In 1402, construction on Grand Place began after 50 years of recession, and in 1430 Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy became the Duke of Brabant through marriage to Margaret, an heiress of the former ruler of Brussels, Duchess Joan. This period of relative calm was marked by a flowering of the arts and commerce in Brussels. The period of calm was shattered, however, when a plague killed about half of the city's 60,000 inhabitants in 1489. In 1507, Margaret of Austria was appointed General Governor of the Netherlands, and growth resumed in Brussels for a good 50 years.

The intrigues of Emporer Charles V and his successor Philip II brought revolution back to Brussels, as those sympathetic to William of Orange, supervisor of Holland (and champion of Charles V), fought against those who followed the Duke of Alva (favorite of William of Orange) in a battle for power over the city. Alva triumphed, only to be replaced by Isabella and Archduke Albert of Austria. Another plague outbreak, with losses comparable to the first, occurred in 1578, before Albert came into power in 1596. In 1695, Brussels was attacked by French King Louis XIV and his army, led by field marshal Villeroi, which destroyed more than 4,000 houses and Grand Place through fire and looting. The Royal Palace was burned down in 1731, and the French captured Brussels in 1746. This occupation lasted for about a century, until the Belgian revolution freed 138,000 Brussels citizens in 1830. On July 21, 1831, Leopold I became Belgium's first King, and the country rebuilt.

During World War I (191418), Brussels was an occupied city, but German troops did not incur much damage. The Germans returned during World War II (193945), resulting in Belgium's split into two semi-indepen-dent regions, the Flanders and Walloon Provinces, while the Brussels district had its own government. The Universal Exhibition took place in Brussels in 1958, and in 1970 construction of the Berlaymont building, house of the European government, began. The European Union and NATO moved their headquarters to Brussels, turning the city into quite an international meeting place for the twenty-first century.

7. Government

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, has an independent congress, mayor, and administration, all of which are elected by the people. On June 18, 1989, the citizens of Brussels elected their regional representatives directly for the first time because the Region of Brussels Capital is considered an autonomous region from the rest of the country of Belgium, which is a constitutional monarchy. On July 14, 1993, the Belgian parliament approved the creation of a federal state of Belgium, which amended the Constitution and Devolution Acts to give the regions (including Brussels) more political power.

8. Public Safety

The Brussels Fire Brigade employs 925 professional firemen, serving in more than nine fire stations. A fleet of 150 units is available to help with road accidents, and there are at least 40 ambulances, five with intensive care surgeons. The emergency number is 100; the police can be reached at 101. Each year the city responds to more than 30,000 calls.

9. Economy

Brussels has a well-developed infrastructure that is supported by about 2,000 foreign companies, including 1,400 U.S. companies and more than 1,000 international associations. The Belgian capital sports the world's second-largest congressional center, where numerous conferences for business are held each year. About 60 foreign banks operate in Brussels, making the city the seventh-largest financial market in the world. Despite the international links, the Brussels economy is actually based on small, private enterprises that service the European Community. About three-quarters of trade occurs with other European Union countries, and there is a large public debt due to social welfare programs. Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita stands at $23,400 annually for Brussels citizens, which is mostly service-based, but about one-quarter of wages are for industrial labor. Unemployment has held steady at around 14 percent, along with most of the rest of Europe, but the administration has launched extensive work-incentive programs. As the capital of Europe, Brussels also experiences special treatment at the hands of European bureaucrats in the allocation of funding, since most fonctionnaires (officials) live in and around the city. In January 1999, the Euro came into common usage in non-cash transactions, and in 2002 the coins and bills will start circulating, replacing the Belgian franc and furthering the transition to a truly European economy.

10. Environment

The Meuse River provides drinking water to Brussels, as does the Scheldt River, but these two principal rivers have been polluted by steel production wastes that need to be filtered before consumption. Other rivers and tributaries are polluted by animal wastes and fertilizers from agricultural activity. Industry in the Brussels environs has caused acid rain to fall throughout the city and to drift over Europe, killing trees and plants and damaging monuments and other buildings. Flooding is a threat to reclaimed forestland, but a series of dikes that hold back the ocean protect the land from the majority of flood damage. As one of the Low Countries, much of the land is at or below sea level, causing the need for reclamation projects. Natural resources include coal and natural gas, which are the source of much of the country's pollution problems. Alternative sources of energy are being tested, including solar power and nuclear energy. The Center for Economic and Social Studies on the Environment, located in Brussels, was created in 1972 by the United Nations to conduct research on sustainable development and to compile an environmental metadatabase to take a holistic approach to environmental troubleshooting. While the research that the center does has global ramifications, local applications of new environmental policies are common. The Exporec 2000, European Recycling Exhibition, was held in Brussels, April 2128, 2000, and showcased the many ways that products from industrial production and general use may be reused instead of merely thrown away to damage the environment.

11. Shopping

There are three main shopping districts: Blvd. Adolf Max & Rue Nuve; Place Stephanie & Ave. Louise; and around Grand Sablon. Some of the popular souvenirs to bring home from Brussels are the famous fruit beers that often come with a matching glass, Sablon lace, Godiva chocolate, and comic strips like Tintin. Most supermarkets are on the outskirts of the city and in the suburbs, but there are two supermarkets near the Stock Exchange Building. Sunday is traditionally market day when Grand Place holds a bird market, and Sablon Square holds an antiques market (Saturday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Sunday 9:00 am to 3:00 PM). Every day of the week there is a flea market at the "Place du Jeu de balles" near the Palace of Justice. Near Place Bara and Slaughterhouse in the suburb of Anderlecht there are food markets. Chocolates can be found in shops by the name of Godiva, Wittamer, Neuhaus and Corne. The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert was Europe's first shopping mall, built in 1847, located on the Rue d'Arenberg. The famous Sablon lace comes from the Maison Antoine Old Brussels Lace Shop in Grand Place.

12. Education

The Brussels school system teaches approximately 35,000 students who live in the Brussels Capital Region. Schooling is compulsory from six to 15 years of age, while nearly all children start with nursery and kindergarten. This system is fairly successful, considering the virtually nonexistent illiteracy rate among Brussels adults, which is practically unheard of, even in other advanced societies. Classes are taught in French, Dutch, and German, and some schools teach a combination of these languages in order to prepare students for the international European business scene. Both public "official" schools and private "free" schools (Catholic) are financed by the Brussels government, which has come under scrutiny from those who advocate the separation of church and state, religious and secular lives. The government has recently started an Internet system called BRUNETTE (Brussels Network for Telematics in Education), connecting all schools to the Internet with advanced technology.

Brussels has been a major center of learning since the Middle Ages and hosts eight major universities and numerous technical and vocational colleges. The Free University of Brussels was originally created to alleviate the Catholic rule over education in the country. It is separated into two almost completely different institutions, one French-speaking and the other Dutch-speaking. The constitution guarantees the freedom of choice of education, which draws foreign students seeking refuge from educational, political, and religious persecution in their own homelands.

13. Health Care

The IRIS network of Brussels (Interhospitalière Régionale des Infrastructures de Soins) offers nine public hospitals, basic medical care, and specialists who are available to all citizens. University hospitals also provide a number of services while teaching new doctors and nurses the trade. Modern medical, psychological, and geriatric care is available from state-run hospitals, clinics, and private doctors. About 95 percent of the Brussels population are covered by the state health plan. The twentieth International Symposium on Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine was held in Brussels March 2124, 2000, helping to update the techniques used by Brussels practitioners in emergency situations.

14. Media

The Brussels media is composed of three major French newspapers: Le Soir, La Libre Belgique, and La Derniere Heure ; three major Dutch newspapers: De Standaard, De Morgen, and Het Laatste Nieuws ; and one English weekly: The Bulletin. Most Brussels citizens get cable, which provides 40 channels: six of which are French (France), five Belgian Flemish, five Belgian French, three Dutch (Holland), two local Brussels (Dutch/French), two German, BBCI and BBC2, CNN, NBC Superchannel, Euronews, and a channel each from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Morocco, and Turkey, among others.

15. Sports

Brussels holds an annual 20-kilo-meter (12-mile) half-marathon every year on the streets of the city. The most popular sports are bicycling and soccer (also called football, but very different from American football). The Red Devils are Belgium's national soccer team, run by the Royal Belgium Football Association.

16. Parks and Recreation

Along the Bois de la Cambre, a visitor can stroll along the banks of the river, row on the river, bicycle, go horseback riding, roller-skating, or play miniature golf. The Park of Brussels also is a pleasant place to visit. On the Arcades of Cinquantenaire, Jabel Park was built to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Belgium Kingdom. La MiniEurope lies in the Laeken district, complete with a miniature Eiffel Tower, leaning Tower of Pisa, and other well-known monuments, in a theme park perfect for family vacations. In the same district is the Atomium, a large structure simulating the make-up of an atom, built for the 1958 World's Fair held in Brussels.

In Tervuren, there are acres of green land in the Forêt de Soignes and the Parc de Tervuren, making this the most popular destination for outdoors recreation. About 15 percent of Brussels is given over to parks and wildlife, which is a large amount considering the dense population of the city and suburbs.

17. Performing Arts

The Théatre Royal de la Monnaie, open since 1700 and supported by the Belgian government and Brussels City government, houses the Opera of Brussels and the Royal Ballet Company, putting on numerous shows every year. Other theaters include the Kaaitheater, the Royal Flemish Theater, and the Theater Factory Europe. The Palais des Beaux-Arts holds a wide range of dance and musical concerts and recitals by world-renowned performers year-round, and the Brussels Chamber Music Ensemble Oxalays performs classical music. One specialty of Brussels is the Toone Theater, or Theatre Toone VII, which is held in a pub built in 1696 near Grand Place. On the first floor, marionettes perform classical operas and Brussels folk stories in French, Dutch, and English; the second floor houses the actual pub. Every summer, the Festival of Flanders features concerts, theater, and dance performances in Brussels and other Belgian cities.

Brussels has also hosted the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition since 1951, offering support to young pianists, violinists, and composers.

18. Libraries and Museums

Brussels has a wealth of museums that cover topics ranging from antiquities to comic strips. The Cinquantenaire Museum of Classical Art and History, founded in 1835 and moved to Cinquantenaire Park in 1889, contains artwork from all over the world, from prehistoric times to the present. Brussels City Museum, located in the King's House on the Market Place of Brussels, opened in 1884. It showcases artwork specifically about the city of Brussels, featuring wall tapestries and the 600-costume wardrobe of Manneken Pis.

The Museum of Modern Art and Natural Sciences Museum also have extensive collections. Victor Horta House focuses on one of the founders of the art nouveau style, and the Belgian Comic Strip Centre houses the largest collection of comic strips in the world, including Belgium's Tintin. The Royal Library, or Bibliotheque Royal Albert I, located near the central train station, provides citizens with reading and reference material. The library holds nearly everything published in Belgium and much of what is printed in Europe.

19. Tourism

Whether shopping and sightseeing in Grand Place, Sablon Square, or the Heysel district, tourists get a grand taste of the good life in Brussels. The city's cuisine is one of the finest in the world, and the numerous chocolate shops make divine desserts. Known for its beer, Brussels is also a fine place to socialize in the pubs and take in a marionette play. Tourists from all over Europe come to Brussels because of its international ranking as a convention center and the capital of Europe. The museums and parks are top-notch and deserve as much time as possible from curious tourists. The comic strip museum, beer museum, and city museum offer rare glimpses into the private lives of Belgians and promise to entertain visitors. Although the weather is not always sunny, it is usually mild, allowing for comfortable sightseeing throughout the year. With the well-developed transportation, there is no reason that a traveler should pass up the opportunity to visit Brussels.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Brussels Annual International Motor Show

Brussels Cartoon and Animated Film Festival (from the end of February until the middle of March)

International Symposium on Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine

The Music and Light Show at Grand Place (from April through September)

The 20km Annual Marathon
Brussels Art Festival

Ommegang (Thousands parade on the streets in colorful costumes to commemorate the welcome of Charles V to the city.)

The Festival of Flanders

The Ivo Van Damme Memorial

21. Famous Citizens

Albert II (b. 1934), King of Belgium (r. 1993present), brother of King Baudouin I.

Baudouin I (19301993), King of Belgium (r. 19511993).

Victor Horta (18611947), architect.

Georges Rémi (19071983), creator of Tintin.

Antoine Joseph Sax (known as Adolphe Sax, 18141894), inventor of the saxophone.

Jean-Claude Van Damme (b. 1960), movie star and karate expert, nicknamed "the muscles from Brussels."

22. For Further Study


Brussels Online. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

City of Brussels. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

Irisnet. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999). [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

Government Offices

Brussels Congress
Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes 61
1000 Brussels
Tel.: (02)5040276
Fax: (02)5130750

Centre Administratif (CA)
6 Boulevard Anspach
1000 Bruxelles
Ville de Bruxelles

City Hall (Hôtel de Ville, HV)
Grand Place
1000 Bruxelles
Tel.: (02)5127554

MayorMr. François-Xavier de Donnea
Tel.: (02)2795010
Fax: (02)2795021

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Blvd. Du Centenaire
B-1020 Bruxelles
Tel.: (02)4770977
Fax: (02)4778398

Brussels Exhibition Center
Place de Belgique
B-1020 Bruxelles
Tel.: (02)4748277
Fax: (02)4748390

Tourist Office (Tourist Information Brussels)
Hôtel de Ville
Grand Place
B-1000 Bruxelles
Tel.: (02)5138940
Fax: (02)5144538


Le Soir
Rue Royale
120-1000 Bruxelles
Tel.: (32)22255432

La Libre Belgique. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).


Deprez, Kas and Louis Vos, eds. Nationalism in Belgium: Shifting Identities, 17801995. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1998.

Ephrem et. al. Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium: A Guide to the Collections of Ancient Art and Modern Art. Brussels: Alice Editions, 1996.

Roberts-Jones, Philippe, ed. Brussels: Fin de Siècle. Köln: Taschen, 1999.

Swimberghe, Piet and Jan Verlinde, eds. Brussels: The Art of Living. New York, NY: Stewart, Tabor and Chang, 1998.

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Brussels (brŭ´səlz), Fr. Bruxelles, Du. Brussel, city and region (1995 pop. 948,122), 63 sq mi (162 sq km), capital of Belgium, central Belgium, on the Senne River and at the junction of the Charleroi-Brussels and Willebroek canals. The city lies within, but is not part of, Flemish Brabant. It is officially bilingual (French and Dutch), although French is more widely spoken. Brussels is an important administrative, financial, cultural, commercial, and industrial center and a major rail junction. Much of the administration of the European Union takes place in Brussels, and it is the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Among its varied manufactures are pharmaceuticals, electronics equipment, machine tools, paper, processed food, and lace.

Points of Interest

The historical nucleus of the city, the medieval and Renaissance Grand' Place, a large square, is the site of the Gothic city hall (15th cent.); the Renaissance-style Maison du Roi or Broodhuis (13th cent.), meeting place of the old States-General of the Netherlands; and a number of rebuilt Gothic guildhalls. Near the Grand' Place is the famous fountain of a small boy urinating, Mannekin-Pis (1619). Other noteworthy buildings include the Collegiate Church of St. Michael and St. Gudule (founded in the 11th cent. and rebuilt in the 13th–15th cent.), which contains many noted Flemish paintings; the Palais de la Nation (parliament building); the Palais de Justice; and the Palais du Roi (royal palace). Brussels is the seat of a university (founded 1834), which in 1970 was divided into two separate institutions, one French-speaking and the other Dutch. There are also excellent art museums and a botanical garden. The rest of Brussels is mostly modern, with contemporary office buildings and broad boulevards that circle the city along its former ramparts.


The city was inhabited by the Romans and later (7th cent. AD) by the Franks; an oratory was founded there (c.600) by the bishop of Cambrai on an island in the Senne. The city was fortified (c.1100) and became (late 12th cent.) a commercial center on the trade route from Bruges and Ghent to the Rhineland. It developed into a center of the wool industry in the 13th cent.

In the 15th cent. the arts flourished and many stately mansions (some still standing) were built. Brussels became (1430) the seat of the dukes of Burgundy and later (1477) of the governors of the Spanish (after 1714, Austrian) Netherlands and was renowned for the luxury and gaiety of its life. In 1561 the Willebroek Canal, connecting Brussels with the Scheldt River, was completed. In the late 16th cent. the city was the center of the duque de Alba's reign of terror.

The city suffered heavily in the wars fought in the Low Countries in the 16th to 18th cent. Brussels changed hands several times in the French Revolutionary Wars; later, during the Waterloo campaign (1815), it was Wellington's headquarters. From 1815 to 1830 it was, with The Hague, the alternate meeting place of the Netherlands parliament. In 1830 it became the capital of independent Belgium. Brussels was occupied by the Germans in World Wars I and II. In 1958 it was the site of a World's Fair. Following constitutional reforms in 1989 and 1993, Brussels became a separate region within a federalized Belgium.

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Brussels (Bruxelles) Capital of Belgium and of Brabant province, central Belgium. During the Middle Ages, it achieved prosperity through the wool trade and became capital of the Spanish Netherlands. In 1830 it became capital of newly independent Belgium. Sites include a 13th-century cathedral, the town hall, splendid art nouveau buildings, and academies of fine arts. The main commercial, financial, cultural, and administrative centre of Belgium, it is also the headquarters of the European Community (EC) and of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Industries: textiles, chemicals, electronic equipment, electrical goods, brewing. Pop. (2000) 133,859; 959,318 (metropolitan).

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Brussels the capital of Belgium and of the Belgian province of Brabant; the headquarters of the European Commission is located there.

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Brussels •Casals • Charles •Dardanelles, Seychelles, Wells •Hales, Swales, Wales •entrails • telesales • cat-o'-nine-tails •Hills, Mills, Sills, Wills •Giles, Miles, Smiles, Stiles •hols • consols •balls, Rawls, Walls •Fowles •Bowles, Coles, Rolls •gules, Jules •collywobbles • Gorbals • Mumbles •Goebbels • Needles • oodles • Raffles •Engels • Gleneagles • Eccles • Pickles •Naples • Brussels • battels • Beatles •bristols • measles

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