Brussels, the capital of Europe, is the administrative heart of the continent. Hub for politicians, decision makers, businessmen, companies and a good number of international organizations. Each year, thousands of young Europeans make their way to Brussels to be part of Europe’s most exclusive international working environment that seems none other city knows of. Youths can grow their career by taking a traineeship in some of the European institutions which are open for work with young people, or can settle full-time employment at some of the many international organizations that are seated in the European capital. This most certainly has contributed to the fact that Belgium grants the most new citizenships per capita in the world.
Nevertheless, Brussels is much more than a city that symbolizes work, politics or administration. With its stunning architecture and urban mess, it is the perfect place for mind blowing multicultural setting, whereas Chinese restaurants outnumber the stalls from which you can buy a delicious local waffle, or where the African district is just 20 minutes by foot from the city’s main square.
Famous people of Brussels
It is often cold, rainy, cloudy or windy in Brussels. It is chilly even in summer when 20 degrees is a very normal temperature. You may wonder if rare sunshine and too much politics could be the reasons that have made Belgian folks very fine tuned to surrealism.
Brussels is not Brussels if you do not visit the Museum of Rene Magritte, one of the most celebrated surrealists of all times, who have been a true local in this city. Purchase a souvenir from the small and cute Rene Magritte museum shop, and you will always have something to remind you of Belgium’s most finest artist.
Moreover, Brussels is birth city of Marguerite Yourcenar, the amazing French writer who did the French translation of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves in a period of 10 months. Exceptionally talented and dedicated writer, she is most known for her flawless novels Memoirs of Hadrian and The Abyss. She was also the first female ever to become member of the Académie française. There is even a funny anecdote that tells how the labels in the bathroom of the French academy needed a change as she entered the institution. Gents / Marguerite Yourcenar will remain a powerful reminder that will indicate the change to follow for the male controlled academic institution.
Brussels is also the birth city of the Argentine novelist Julio Cortázar, world known for his corpus of short stories and amazing novels. The influential writer was an inspiration to a whole generation of Spanish speaking authors in Latin America and Europe. His short story The Southern Thruway inspired Jean-Luc Godard’s movie, The Weekend in 1967 & his novel Hopscotch resembles a 20th century masterpiece for the world literature.
Actress Audrey Hepburn, actors Patrick Bauchau and Jean-Claude Van Damme, visual artist Jan De Cock, Placebo’s singer Brian Molko and anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss are also part of the long list of famous people who have all been born in Brussels.
Finally, the European capital has been considered a safe harbor for artists and free thinkers who have faced some sort of political turmoil throughout history. At least it was so for names like controversial French poet, Charles Baudelaire, or Paul Verlaine and Alexandre Dumas. Anyway, Brussels will remember that it was Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels who were expelled from this city in 1848.
You can see Brussels even from the moon
If you still think that politicians should be first figures to associate Brussels with, think twice! Aside the thousands of politicians and civil servants who shape the future of the continent, be ware of the other things that Brussels and Belgians are credited for.
For example, Belgium is the nation that invented oil paintings in the 15th century. Since always, its capital city has resembled a marvelous territory where the grey skies are easily distorted from wonderful works of street art, just like the one inspired from The Adventures of Tintin comic books. The Adventures of Tintin was a series of 24 comic albums created by the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi. He created under the pen name Hergé, and his work is praised to be Europe’s most popular comic of the 20th century. The comic has sold 200 million books worldwide. And when talking on comics, Brussels holds yet another record, as the city has the most comic makers per square kilometre in the world.
When Brussels come to your mind, probably the next two things that will pop up in your brain would be beer and chocolate. Aside the 150 different types of beer you can taste in Brussels, it is notable that Belgium produces an amazing 220,000 tons of chocolate per year. This means there is about 22 kg of chocolate per Belgian. Consequently, the Brussels International Airport is the world’s largest selling point of chocolate. [That’s a lot of chocolate out there! ]
Further on, Brussels is an old pioneer of the world. The country of Belgium is the oldest one on the Old continent – it received its charter of rights back in 1066. This is also the first country of the world to introduce electronic ID cards back in 2003.
The Palace of Justice [Law Courts of Brussels] is the largest court of justice in the world. It spreads on a vast area of 26,000 square metres. Brussels also has Europe’s oldest shopping arcades, the Galeries St. Hubert, which was opened in 1847. Europe’s first modern health resort, which was opened in 18th century, is also credited for this realm. Brussels is the home of the largest Freemason temple in Europe – The Great Temple at the Rue De Laeken. Finally, Brussels [and Belgium] have such a highway system, that is the only man-made structure that is visible from the moon at night, thanks to the quantity of lights it has!