Chateau de Loppem, Belgium http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Loppem_chateau_face_2.JPG Velvet
Belgium is a small country in the centre of Western Europe. Due to its central location, its capital Brussels is the seat of the European Union as well as NATO. Belgium shares a border with the Netherlands in the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, and France to the Southwest.
Belgium comprises two main regions, Flanders in the north and Wallonia in the south. These two regions are split along linguistic lines. The Flemish north is where the people predominantly speak Flemish while in the Wallonia south, the people predominantly speak French. Although the city of Brussels is officially bilingual, most of its population are in fact predominantly French speaking, despite it being an enclave within Flanders.\
Fast Facts about Belgium
Official Name: Kingdom of Belgium
Capital: Brussels (1,750,000)
Population of Belgium: 10,339,000
Languages spoken: Dutch, French, German
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant
Size: 32,820 sq km (12,672 sq miles)
Places in Belgium on this website
Main Cities in Belgium
Brussels The capital as well as biggest city in Belgium.
Antwerp Second biggest city in Belgium and capital of Antwerp province in Flanders.
Ghent Third biggest city in Belgium, and biggest in the East Flanders province.
Bruges One of the biggest and best preserved old city in Europe after Venice.
Liège The largest city in Wallonia, a great destination for exploring its hills.
Namur Capital of Namur province and Wallonia region.
Dinant Small city in a picturesque setting, a destination for adventure sports.
Leuven One of the oldest university towns in Europe with a beautiful historical center and vibrant nightlife.
Spa Healing resort that gives its name to similar resorts around the world.
Ypres One of the largest cities in the Low Countries.
Places of Interest Belgium
Chocolate and Cocoa Museum A place to relish the tale of chocolates.
Manneken-Pis Statue Statue of the little boy in Brussels, an icon of the city.
Waterfoo Battlefield Site where Napoleon was defeated.
World Heritage Sites in Belgium
Belgium ratified the World Heritage Convention on 24 July, 1996. As of August 2010, it has ten World Heritage Sites, all in the Cultural category. Belgium has submitted another fifteen properties which are presently on the World Heritage Tentative List. Belgium has served on the World Heritage Committee for one term, in 1999-2003.
Sites in Belgium on the World Heritage Tentative List:
Le noyau historique médiéval ou la 'Cuve' de Gand, et les deux abbayes qui sont á son origine (2002)
Noyau historique d'Antwerpen -Anvers- de l'Escaut aux anciens remparts de vers 1250 (2002)
Lieux de m&eacture;moire et monuments de la Grande Guerre: le Westhoek et R&eacture;gions voisines (2002)
Leuven/Louvain, bâtiments universitaires, l'h&eacture;ritage de six siècles au sein du centre historique (2002)
Maison Guiette, Populierenlaan 32, Antwerpen (2005)
Les passages de Bruxelles / Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (2008)
L'œuvre architecturale d'Henry van de Velde (2008)
Le Palais de Justice de Bruxelles (2008)
Le plateau des Hautes-Fagnes (2008)
Le tronçon Bavay-Tongres de la chauss&eacture;e romaine Boulogne-Cologne situe sur le territoire de la R&eacture;gion wallonne (2008)
L'ensemble thermal de Spa : de la cure mondaine à la vill&eacture;giature de prestige (2008)
Le palais de Princes Evêques de Liège (2008)
Le champ de bataille de Waterloo, la fin de l'&eacture;pop&eacture;e napol&eacture;onienne (2008)
Les sites miniers majeurs de Wallonie (2008)
Le Panorama de la Bataille de Waterloo, exemple particulièrement significatif de « Ph&eacture;nomène de Panoramas » (2008)
Les citadelles mosanes (2008)
One of the canals in Bruges, Belgium http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bruegge_huidenvettersplein.jpg Elke Wetzig
When to visit Belgium
The weather is unpredictable, but for the best bet, go between May and September. The drawback is that everybody else will think the same, and as a result, expect everywhere to be more crowded during these months.
What to wear in Belgium
Assuming you are going to Belgium in the months of May to September, bring lightweight clothing for the warm days, medium weight clothing for the cooler days, and keep your umbrella and raincoat handy at all times.
Preparing Money for Belgium
The currency used in Belgium is the Euro (EUR).
The Parochiekerk Sint Vincent in Knokke-Heist, Belgium http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parochiekerk_Sint_Vincentius,_Ramskapellestraat,_Ramskapelle_(Knokke-Heist).jpg VWAmFot
Getting into Belgium
The Brussels International Airport (www.brusselsairport.be; BRU) is located in the town of Zaventem outside of Brussels. It is the base of Brussels Airlines (http://www.brusselsairlines.com), the national airline for Belgium. Flight from London to Brussels takes approximately 50 minutes. Airport City Express train, www.b-rail.be between the airport and Brussels takes approximately 25 minutes. It costs 2.80 E and runs once every 15 minutes. In addition, buses #12 and 13 goes from the airport to Place Luxembourg, the European Parliament, every 20-30 minutes for 3Euro. Taxis from airport to Brussels cost 30euro; if booked in advance, they cost 20euro. Call Taxis Bleus 02 268 0000, Taxi Brussels 02 411 4142 and Taxis Verts: 02 349 4343.
In addition to the Brussels Airport, Brussels is also served by two other airports. Charleroi Airport (www.charleroi-airport.com; CRL), 46km from Brussels, is served by low cost carriers Ryanair and Wizzair and Antwerp Deurne Airport (ANR), for business flights and VLM (www.flyvlm.com) to London City airport.
For wider options, you may also consider flying into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) which has rail links to Brussels and Antwerp.
Mist over the lawn of Castle Arenberg, today part of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Castle_Arenberg,_Katholieke_Universiteit_Leuven_adj.jpg Juhanson
There is a selection of rail connections available with Brussels.
From London, you can take the Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) that goes to the Brussels South railway station; from there, you get free connection to other stations in Belgium. On the London end, the Eurostar presently (Sept 2007) stops at Waterloo station, but will move to St Pancras station on 14 November 2007, at which time, it will be called the High Speed 1.
You can also reach Brussels using the high-speed Thalys (www.thalys.com) train, which connects with Cologne (in 2 hours 23 minutes), Paris (1 hour 20 minutes) and Amsterdam (2 hours).
You can reach Brussels from Frankfurt-am-Main on the German high-speed ICE train. It runs once a day and costs 93 euros each way.
You can also take the Eurocity train that links Brussels with Amsterdam, via Rotterdam, The Hague and Schiphol airport.
Espace Leopold, the seat of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2007_07_16_parlament_europejski_bruksela_26.JPG Alina Zienowicz
Belgium Entry Requirements
Nationals of the EU do not require a visa. Nationals of Australia, Canada and US do not require a visa if visiting Belgium for up to three months in a 6-month period.
Planning your travel within in Belgium
There are no domestic flights within Belgium, it being such a small country. Belgium National Railway (www.b-rail.be; Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Belges, SNCB) offers a comprehensive with other major cities in Europe. For other details on trains in Europe, visit www.eurostar.com for details.
A picturesque scene on the Lange Rei in Bruges, Belgium http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brugge_Langerei_R02.jpg Marc Ryckaert
Money matters in Belgium
Belgium uses the Euro (EUR, symbol €). Banknotes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 while coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Banking hours differ between cities but are generally Mon-Fri, 9:00am to 4:00pm.
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