Brussels, Belgium

According to abbreviationfinder, Brussels is the capital and residence of Belgium, the center of the land, 15-80 m above sea level on the hills on both sides of Zenne prior to its entry into the plane (2019) 181 700 residents.

The urban agglomeration consisting of the capital and 18 other municipalities forms the Brussels-Capital region with 161 km 2 and (2018) 1.2 million residents. The Brussels-Capital Region is a bilingual island in the Dutch-speaking area; the proportion of the Dutch-speaking population is estimated at only 15–30%. The Brussels-Capital Region includes: Schaerbeek (133,000 residents), Anderlecht (118,400 residents), Molenbeek-Saint-Jean (97,000 residents), Uccle (82,300 residents) and Ixelles (86,500 residents).

Administrative and cultural institutions

Brussels is the seat of the government and administrative authorities of Belgium, the permanent General Secretariat of the Benelux countries and central bodies of the European Union, such as the European Commission, in addition to Strasbourg and Luxembourg, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union (EU Council of Ministers), the European Defense Agency (in Ixelles), as well as the European air navigation service provider EUROCONTROL as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the North Atlantic Assembly; numerous umbrella associations and international organizations are based in Brussels. 40 km southwest of Brussels is the seat of the NATO headquarters (SHAPE).

As the cultural center of Belgium, Brussels has, in addition to the two full universities (founded in 1834; split in 1970), three sub-universities (“faculties”), commercial and business schools, the Erasmus University, the Royal Military Academy, and the Royal Conservatory; scientific academies (the oldest from 1772), research institutes, libraries and archives. The museum landscape is characterized by art museums (Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique), architecture museum, Erasmus museum, natural science museum, comic museum, Jewish museum, military museum, “Auto World” (automobile museum opened in 1986). There are numerous theaters including the National Theater and the Royal Opera House.


Brussels is a lively trading city with international trade fairs and congresses, the headquarters of large banks and many important national and international trading companies. The industry of Brussels has experienced a sharp decline in recent years and includes, in addition to the traditional textile industry (wool and upholstery fabrics, »Brussels lace«) Metal processing and mechanical engineering, chemical and pharmaceutical industry as well as diverse food industry. Heavy industry had also settled along the canals just outside the city. Noteworthy is the establishment of young high-tech companies in commercial, technology and research parks around the urban agglomeration. Business life and tourism are now concentrated in the old town between the north and central train stations as well as in the area around the Louise Gallery south of the Palace of Justice.


Brussels is the hub of the Belgian rail and road network and major international and intercontinental air traffic. There are TGV connections to Lille, Paris, Cologne and Amsterdam; Eurostar connection to London. Brussels-Zaventem Airport is the largest airport in Belgium. Brussels’ ports are connected to Antwerp and the North Sea by the Brussels-Rupel Canal, which was laid out in 1550–61 (today it has been expanded to become the Brussels-Scheldt Sea Canal), and by an inland canal to the industrial area of Charleroi. There has been a subway since 1976.


The center of the lower town is the Grand ‘Place (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The late Gothic town hall (begun in 1402) with a 96 m high tower (completed in 1455) is one of the largest in Belgium. Guild houses are lined up around the square; the medieval buildings fell victim to the bombardment by the French (1695), but were rebuilt in a short time. Opposite the town hall is the “Maison du Roi” (former “bread house”, now a museum), which was restored in the Flemish late Gothic style in 1871–96 based on old engravings from the previous building (16th century). The “House of the Dukes” on the southeast side of the square is originally made up of six guild houses; near the market is the fountain with the bronze statuette of the “Manneken-Pis” by J. Duquesnoy the Elder (1619). The Galeries Saint-Hubert (1847) is one of the oldest covered shopping streets in Europe. In the lower town is the Gothic church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Chapelle (1216–1483).

The cathedral Saint-Michel et Gudule, a three-aisled church in the French Gothic style (1226 ff.), And the Notre-Dame-du-Sablon church in the flamboyant style (15th – 16th centuries) rise on the western slope of the upper town. The Rue Royale, which has been built since 1774, with the National Palace (1779–83), the Royal Palace (1740–87, modified several times) and the classicist church of Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg (1776–85), runs on the edge of the hillside of the upper town. Further south is the Palace of Justice (1866–83 by J. Poelaert), the largest monumental building of the 19th century, a prime example of historicism.

The Art Nouveau buildings by Victor Horta (Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde and Maison & Atelier Horta) and the Palais Stoclet by J. Hoffmann (1905–11) are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Atomium was built for the 1958 World’s Fair. Far-reaching urban development interventions have been carried out since the beginning of the 20th century, in particular numerous modern high-rise buildings (e.g. Tour Pacific, 1970; World Trade Center, 1972 and 1983; Tour Belgacom I and II, 1994; residential high-rise Up-site, 2014), which have greatly changed the original character of the city.

Brussels, Belgium