Belgium – a country located in Western Europe. Capital – Brussels. Other major cities – Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Liege. Official languages: Dutch, French and German.
With an area of 30,500 square kilometers Belgium is the 140-th place in the world. The population of the country – more than 10 million people. Most of the residents – Flemings and Walloons. Also in Belgium, a lot of Germans and immigrants.
The name of the state received from the Celtic tribe of Belgae. North Gaul was inhabited by a group of Celtic tribes. Julius Caesar described the territory Gaul Gallia Belgica. For a long time, Belgium was part of the Roman Empire, which was reflected in the culture and architecture of the country.
In the first half of the XIX century, the Kingdom of Belgium was declared an independent state. The recognized form of government – a constitutional monarchy. Belgium is a member of the European Economic Community, and Brussels – the capital of the EU.
The sculpture “Manneken Pis”
The sculpture “Manneken Pis” – a bronze statue of a fountain, the symbol of Brussels, Belgium. This sculpture is located near the grandiose Grand Place and daily attracts hundreds of tourists with cameras.
With this small statue – 61 cm in height is related to many legends. According to one legend, the site of the fountain was once the home of a famous witch. One day she saw a little boy, who has written on the door of her house. Then she turned it into a bronze statue.
According to another version, the fountain was built a happy father who found his lost son at this point in this inappropriate way. There is also a legend about a boy who wrote during the war ammunition under the city wall, to extinguish them. In memory of this feat citizens erected a monument to him.
In any case, this sculpture appeared on the streets of Brussels in XV-XVI century., Thanks to J. Duquesnoy. As for the statue itself, unfortunately, is not the original and reconstructed in the middle of the XIX century copy. Since the end of the XVII century, the statue repeatedly kidnapped, so they had to create a new copy.
Belgians love dressing up “Manneken Pis” in various outfits. The Royal Museum, you can see more than 800 colorful costumes designed for this statue. For example, after the Christmas holidays, he dressed up as Santa Claus. Recently, on the other side of the area established a monument – “pissing girl”.
The historic center of Bruges
The historic city center of Bruges – a unique example of medieval villages, the most important part of the identity of the city. Bruges is not simply one of the most beautiful historic cities in Belgium, but the city was once the former commercial and cultural capital of Europe.
This charming town with medieval buildings as a magnet for tourists. Geographically, it is situated about 100 km from Brussels. From the capital’s airport every 30 minutes for trains to Bruges. Travel time is about 1.5 hours.
Architectural monuments of Bruges mean a lot for both Belgium and throughout Europe. Sometimes the city is called the “Venice of the second.” There are no skyscrapers, modern highways and shopping centers. But there is a fabulous houses, reminiscent of Flemish lace, as if he stood in the XV century. On its perimeter occur multiple channels and pass the narrow streets.
Outwardly, it seems that the whole town is sleeping peacefully, except for the center. Here and tourists, and medieval horse-drawn vehicles, and lively fairs on the Grote Markt, and annual festivals. Geographically, the historic center of Bruges is divided into two parts: the Markt and Burg. If one of them located shopping arcade, the other – the objects of national importance.
One of the most interesting attractions is the observation tower Belfort (XIII century). 366 steps lead to her. Another popular attraction – the ancient Church of the Mother of God, in which the ancient elements organically combined with modern appliances. It is noteworthy that Bruges is closely related to the development of Flemish painting.
Cathedral of Our Lady
Cathedral of Our Lady – Roman Catholic church in Antwerp, one of the most important in Belgium. It is famous for its Gothic exterior and the works of famous artists (P. Rubens, Otto Veen and others)
Despite the fact that the construction of the temple began in the middle of the XIV century, it is still considered incomplete. The architects were Jean Hamel and his son Peter. During the XV-XVI centuries Cathedral suffered the bombing, the acts of iconoclasm, and therefore in need of restoration works. Its northern tower “Benelux” (altitude 123 meters) stands proudly over all other buildings of the city.
The main entrance to the temple is crowned by the original portal with a three-tiered relief. The interior of the Basilica is quite bright and airy. During the celebrations there is going to a huge number of residents and visitors alike. Particularly noteworthy are the dome of the XVII century and the pulpit of the Archbishop, made in Baroque style. It is noteworthy that in this council kept the best paintings by Rubens.
Antwerp – an important port city and administrative center of the Flemish region. Geographically, it is located 45 km from the Belgian capital. To get there by train from Brussels Central Station can be for 50 minutes. In addition, every hour from the capital’s airport in Antwerp is sent buses.
Atomium – a brilliant monument, a giant model of iron molecule in Brussels, Belgium. Its opening was timed to the holding of the World Expo 1958 year.
The height of this rail design – 102 meters. Six of the nine spheres are open to the public and have a comfortable transition. Inside there is a superfast elevator takes visitors to the observation deck of the upper world. From there, a superb view of the capital with all its streets, historical and modern buildings.
Geographically, the Atomium is located in the picturesque park with the most famous buildings in Europe in miniature. To get to the attractions can be from the center by tram number 81. The Atomium is the final stop called Heysel. Paid entrance. Opening hours: daily from 10 am.
Periodically in this huge building hosts exhibitions, dedicated to scientific innovation. In one area there is a cell-colored room, where you can stay overnight and enjoy the park. Children can also visit the Atomium, but accompanied by their parents. For these special tickets are provided.
Waterloo – one of the most visited places in Belgium; Town, next to which there was a famous battle against Napoleon.
It is in the vicinity of Waterloo summer 1815 Napoleon’s army was defeated by the troops of Wellington. In honor of this historic event on a hill near the town installed a magnificent statue of a lion.
Today, all Waterloo attractions connected with this battle. The city has many objects worthy of attention: Wellington Museum, the Lion Hill, Battle Panorama, farms and Ugumon Hey St, where fierce fighting occurred.
Of particular interest to tourists cause Panorama 110 meters long and Lion Hill. Battle Panorama was created almost 100 years after the battle – the French artist L. Dumoulin. And for the construction of a hill, the women of the city, two years wore basket to the ground.
Typically, a full excursion program includes a preview of two short historical films and visits to local Wax Museum, which presents the events that took place on the eve of the battle at the headquarters of both sides.
Geographically Waterloo is about 18 km from Brussels. You can reach it on the bus from the Central Station or South Station, and the train. The road along the way takes about half an hour. On the train ride a little longer, besides Waterloo station it is far from the historical attractions.
Gravensteen Castle, Ghent
Gravensten Castle – one of the oldest citadels in Europe, located in the city center of Ghent, Belgium. This unique building, rises on a small hill between the rivers Lys and Lieve, certainly attracted the attention of visitors to the city.
The first count’s castle on the site of the present castle was built in the time of the Norman attacks, and about X-XI centuries. the first stone castle was built. In the form in which it survives to this day, the castle was built in 1180 by Count Philip of Alsace.
Almost all the counties of Flanders had their locks, but Ghent experienced a century, battles and a variety of shocks. This castle faithfully served the people of the city, often used as a shelter, prison, factory, building officials, and, of course, as the Count’s Palace. The high crenellated walls perfectly protect it from external enemies.
At one time it was a whole town with the administrative and religious buildings. In fact, around the castle and two abbeys and upset Gent. Today it is open for public visits the museum of arms and ammunition. Here visitors can see a collection of instruments of torture used in the Ghent prison.
Outwardly resembles an impregnable Gravensten whopper that seemed grown out of the water. It looks menacing castle and the walls of his blows ice cold. Near the fortress is Veerlepleyn area, where public executions took place. Entrance to the castle for an extra charge. During the visit you can see the torture chamber, dungeon, Counts halls and other premises of the complex.
Sacre Coeur – Catholic basilica in Brussels, Belgium, was built in the XX century, one of the largest Christian churches in the world. This shrine, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The idea to build a church, similar to the Sacre-Coeur in Paris, owned by Leopold II – King, who sought to be compared with all the French capital Brussels.
Initially, the building was designed in the neo-Gothic style, but after 65 years of construction, it began to resemble the style of Art Deco. Special charm gives him a huge green dome of copper. It is very different this Sacre Coeur from most Catholic churches.
Today, this building – a symbol of Brussels and a national shrine. There can be unique stained glass, describing the life of Christ, which were created by A. Card. In addition to religious services, in the Basilica of exhibitions, concerts and other events. It even has a restaurant and a training ground for cavers.
Geographically, the basilica is located on a hill Kukelbergskom, which is why it is sometimes called “the Basilica of Koekelberg.” Oddly enough, the entrance to the temple is carried out from the end through a modest door of one of the chapels.
Peter and Paul Church in Oostende
Peter and Paul Church in Oostende – a neo-Gothic church in Ostend, Belgium, an outstanding architectural monument.
Ostend – the largest port and resort city. It is located about 100 km from Brussels. In Ostend is the final stop Ghent Railway. Travel time from the capital – about 1.5 hours. The city also has an international airport and sea port, associated with the English Ramsteygom.
Peter and Paul Church is the main attraction of the city. It is often compared to iconic European churches, such as Notre Dame in Paris. The exact date of construction of the predecessor of the temple is unknown, but in the end of XIX century there was a big fire, which resulted in the only preserved brick tower – the tower of St Peter’s. Antique clock on it date back to XV century.
By order of Leopold II a new church was built on the site of the burnt church. The grand opening took place in 1905. During the military operations of the XX century, many stained-glass windows with images of saints and the Belgian monarchs have been destroyed, but over time they have restored.