Small Belgium has put itself on the administrative map by being the landlord of the European Parliament, NATO, the Competition Council and the Court of Cassation. The kingdom, headed by the popular King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, is divided into Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia. There is a central parliament, but both regions also have their own government. The hospitality of the people makes it a wonderful place to stay.
History and population
Monarchy and Congo
The Kingdom of Belgium is a constitutional monarchy, just like the Netherlands. The country has had a multicultural population for fifty years. Under King Leopold III, Belgium was a colonial ruler in the African country of the Congo . The colony was stripped of its earthly goods, such as rubber, cobalt, copper, diamonds and gold. In return, the country received nothing in return. Rebels in the sixties of the 20th century, led by the educated Lumumba, Kasavubu and Tsjombè, ensured the independence of Congo after years of struggle. It is still not really a democracy due to the many differences of opinion. Many Congolese have found their habitat mainly in the major cities of Belgium. See also the beautiful book by David van Reybrouck: Congo.
Linguistic conflict and language
The years of trouble surrounding the language conflict result in a new government almost every year. Especially in and around Brussels, people refuse to use the other person’s language in business and personal negotiations. In addition to the Flemish and Walloons, there are two other groups of non-native speakers: the German-speaking group around Eupen and the Luxembourgish speakers around Arlon. The positive thing about the Flemish language is the fact that it sounds so gentle to us Dutch. The French intonation (caused by the French domination of the Low Countries by Louis Napoleon ) has been preserved in Dutch language use. And because the Flemish immediately convert all foreign words into Flemish, it has become such a lovely language. In addition to the beautiful language, our southern neighbor has a very hospitable character, which is why many Dutch people enjoy staying in this beautiful country.
Brussels and Antwerp
Brussels , the capital, welcomes you with a relaxed international atmosphere. On and around the Brussels Market you can enjoy the many restaurants and cafes where international cuisine reigns supreme. The largest city is Antwerp , a major port on the Scheldt. The name of Antwerp comes from old Germanic. Anda werpua means opposite thrown land. This is of course about the city located on both banks. Many Belgians are Catholic. A beautiful example of architecture is the Cathedral of Our Lady, the largest church in the Low Countries, in Brabant Gothic. Architectural highlights also include the St. Andrew’s Church, the St. Michael’s Church, the St. Augustine’s Church and the St. Paul’s Church. It couldn’t be more Catholic. The impressive MAS (museum on the river) has been on the Scheldt for some time now . In this glass palace, where you can view the city from a different point of view all around, the history of the city is told with paintings, information, interactive highlights and old found objects. Beautiful! Burgundian life takes place on the Grote Markt and in the adjacent streets. Antwerp is an invitation to visit both in summer (on the terraces of the many good restaurants) and in winter (at the large Christmas market with ice skating rink). It is also a fantastic city for shopping. The diamond industry takes place in the area around the station. Antwerp used to be the diamond city. The grinders have now retreated to the Kempen. Most diamonds nowadays are cut in low-wage countries. But it is still fun to walk through the diamond quarter and see the Jews and the Hindi going about their business. Herenthals consisted of two merchant settlements. The cloth industry flourished here in the 14th century.
The seaside resorts of Knokke, Ostend and Blankenberge are located on the coast . When the sun shines, you can spend days there, it is that cozy there.
A little further from the coast is Bruges , where medieval cellars around the pleasant market square have been converted into restaurants. Here is the Hof van Gruuthuse (Dyver), the home of one of the oldest families in Bruges. It was built in the 15th century. In the gable you can see the coats of arms of the members of the family. Historical attractions here also include the Cloth Hall, the Groeninge Museum, the Museum of Ethnology, the Church of Our Lady and the Beguinage. A boat trip through the canals is possible here.
This city can be recognized from afar by the St. Bavo’s Cathedral. Here you can visit the beautiful town hall, the Belfry Tower, the Patershol and the Museum of Fine Arts. You can stroll pleasantly on the Graslei and the Korenlei, where the catering industry is also located.
Leuven , in the province of Brabant, has been a university city since 1425. In 1750 the city became the center of a trade route to central Europe. St. Peter’s Church looks like a small cathedral. There are many beautiful old buildings in the city. Take a look at the Gothic style of the town hall. And also take a look at the university library. Beautiful.
Hasselt is located in Belgian Limburg , a culinary city par excellence. It used to be on the Bruges-Cologne trade route and grew into the capital of the province. Maaseik is also located in Limburg . There is an Archaeological Museum, housed in a house from 1704. It contains a furnished pharmacy from the 17th century. The catering industry is located on the village square. Let yourself be pampered at the restaurants on the square.
Oudenaarde and cycling
Oudenaarde is located in the Flemish Ardennes , also an old settlement for the cloth industry and carpet weaving. The town hall on the square is a gem to see. The Museum of the Tour of Flanders is also located here. Belgium is a cycling nation and in the museum you can find everything about the old and current Flandriens. You can even get on a bicycle and ride up the Oude Kwaremont behind Peter van Petegem. In the vicinity of Oudenaarde, including in Geraardsbergen , where the infamous Wall is located, one will find professional and leisure riders all year round, who are scrambling to brave and conquer the Tour of Flanders with its many cobblestones. complete in Ninove.
The capital of Wallonia is Namur (Namur). The old Citadel, the Vleeschhuis and the Grognon Gate from 1728 are located 100 meters above the Meuse. The ruins of the Cistercian abbey of Salzinnes are located on the Sambre. Nearby is Corroy-le-Chateau, home to one of the best preserved castles in the country.
The largest city in eastern Belgium is Liege (Liège), ravaged by heavy industry and demolition. Fortunately, the city center has been spared and has a beautiful Place Saint Lambert, with beautiful buildings from the 17th century. The Musée d’Art Wallon features works by Lombard and Margritte. The Cathédral Saint Paul is a witness to the glorious Roman past. In memory of the industrial past there is the Maison de la Métallugie et de l’industrie.
Nature of Belgium
If you want to get out into nature in Belgium, you can enjoy the High Fens, which are a continuation of the beautiful hill country just across the border from Maastricht. The Ardennes are also an attraction in Belgium, including the caves of Han and the area along the Semois. The Kempen with its vast heathlands and of course the Flemish Ardennes, the area of the Flemish cycling tours, are among the beautiful nature that Belgium also has to offer.