Belgium, one of the Low Countries in northwestern Europe, is famous for well-preserved medieval cities, waffles, beer and chocolate. It is also home to Brussels, the de facto capital of the European Union, and Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world. Belgium is divided into three regions: the multilingual Brussels-Capital Region, French-speaking Wallonia, and Flemish-speaking Flanders.
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Belgium’s capital, Brussels, is also the de facto capital of the European Union. It is overflowing with art museums and historic buildings. At the city’s center lies the Grand Place, a wide square surrounded by mostly 17th-century structures. Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world, is Belgium’s “second city.” It is known for its world-class museums, including the Rubens House, the former home Peter Paul Rubens, considered the most influential artist of the Flemish Baroque tradition.
What to See
Brussels – The renowned Grand Place (Grote Markt), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, is the heart of the city. Here you will find town hall and a plethora of Gothic and Baroque buildings. Other must-see sights include the Royal Palace of Brussels, Palace of Justice, and the European Parliament.
Antwerp – The Grote Markt, or Grand Place, in Antwerp is home to a number of historic guild houses, town hall, and the unique Brabo Fountain. The city is also home to Belgium’s biggest Gothic church, the Cathedral of Our Lady, and the largest Belgian chocolate museum in the world, Chocolate Nation. And no trip to Antwerp is complete without a visit to Rubens’ House, the former home of renowned artist Peter Paul Rubens.
Bruges – This fairytale city is famous for its canals, cobblestone streets, and well-preserved medieval structures. Some of Bruges’ top attractions include its iconic belfry, Belfort van Brugge, which can be climbed for panoramic views of the city; the Basilica of the Holy Blood, boasting a cloth allegedly stained with the blood of Jesus Christ; and Bruges’ numerous canals, which can be explored by boat.
Dinant – This picture-postcard town located between the Meuse River and a towering cliff is widely considered one of the most charming and beautiful in Belgium. Some of this compact town’s must-see sights include Notre-Dame de Dinant, a 13th-century Gothic church known for its pear-shaped bell tower; Citadelle de Dinant, a historic fortress on the cliff that towers over the town and offers awe-inspiring views; and the Charles de Gaulle Bridge, which spans the Meuse and is adorned with immense, colorful saxophones that represent each country in the European Union.
Ghent – Ghent, one of Belgium’s oldest, most historic, and best-preserved medieval cities, is overflowing with canals, cobblestone streets, and world-class museums. Learn about Ghent from the Middle Ages to the present day at STAM, the city museum; cruise Ghent’s canals past some of the city’s most iconic sights, including Gravensteen, the only remaining medieval castle in Flanders with a moat and mostly intact defense system; and explore Graslei, where you will find some of the country’s finest guild houses.