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Sunday, 30 June 2013


Brussels has been a location for settlement since prehistory but it became a noteworthy settlement after Saint Gery built a chapel on the banks of the Senne River in 695, now called Place Saint Gery.

The city of Brussels was officially founded in 979 by Charles, Duke of Low Lotharingia, who set down Brussels’ first city charter.

Since its days of tapestry-making in the 14th century, Brussels has always been renowned for its dexterity at creating textiles to wow the world. Like its tapestries, the quality of Brussels lace was only fit for aristocrats and royalty and commanded the highest prices on the market in the 16th century.

Brussels became a city in 1312, and was declared capital of the Spanish Netherlands in 1530 and of Belgium in 1830.

Brussel sprouts are called Brussels sprouts because they were discovered in Brussels.

The first railway in continental Europe opened between Brussels and Mechelen in 1835.

Work began on the covering of the Senne on February 13, 1867, burying the polluted main waterway in Brussels to allow urban renewal in the centre of the city. The series of boulevards created by the project – Hainaut Boulevard (now Maurice Lemonnier Boulevard), Central Boulevard (now Boulevard Anspach), North Boulevard (now Adolphe Max Boulevard), and Senne Boulevard (now Émile Jacqmain Boulevard) – were progressively opened to traffic from 1871 to 1873. The work is one of the defining events in the history of Brussels.

Construction of the covering and tunnels

Brussels was occupied by the Germans from May 17, 1940 until September 3, 1944 during World War II. The Germans, on the eve of their retreat, set fire to the Palais de Justice, and the cupola, which dominated the whole city, was completely burnt out.

German cavalry parade past the Royal Palace in Brussels shortly after the invasion, May 1940

The world’s deepest swimming hole is located in Brussels. Nemo 33 is a submerged structure with platforms at various levels that plummet down 108 feet. It holds 2,500,000 liters of non-chlorinated spring water that stays 86 degrees. Divers often use this facility to train, and there are even simulated underwater caves.

The world’s largest selling point of chocolate is the Brussels National Airport.

Brussels is one of the most international cities in the world. 27% of the population is made up of foreigners, not including those who have taken Belgian citizenship.

In following with its status as the Capital of Europe (the seat of the European Union), Brussels is the location for 40,000 EU employees, 4,000 NATO employees and hosts about 300 permanent representations: lobby groups, embassies and press corporations.


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