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As the artistic heart of the EU, Brussels is necessarily multicultural, a vibe that’s only accentuated a feeling that the city’s always been divided – half French, half Flemish - though both halves seem to enjoy their mussels and take their ‘pomme frites’ with an unusual and hefty side of mayonnaise.
The Belgian capital even has an African quarter where you can snack on dried caterpillars, though the more obvious features are in the winding medieval alleyways of the lower city and the stately buildings and boulevards of the upper half. The famous Manneken Pis (a statue of a little boy engaged in endless urination) is the lower half’s primary attraction, while you’ll also find the ornate columns of the Grand Palace highly picture-worthy, and the multiple artistic museums (incorporating anything from cartoons to renaissance portraits) are world class. The new Magritte-museum is worth visiting. Don't miss the unique statue a few kilometres out of town centre: The Atomium. A futuristic monument what was built for the World Exposition in 1958.
The upper half, on the other hand, hides numerous parks, the glorious Royal district (which hides the Palace of Justice) and eventually leads to the bustling ambience of the ‘European District’, home to all things EU and a businesslike ambience to suit. The whole thing was polished to a glimmering shine as part of Brussels successful bid to become the European capital of culture in 2000, and to date the city’s aging buildings manage to look as shiny and new as they have in years.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Belgium without a huge array of succulent smelling chocolate shops, each home to its own long-practiced specialties and selling what invariable amounts to the richest and most addictive chocolate you’re ever likely to try. The chocolates play their role in Brussels addictive café culture, too, appearing next to your coffee on the riverside, while Brussels beer customs – another of Belgium’s alluring exports – are strong and vibrant, too.
Belgium’s Europe-wide reputation is that the country’s boring, and somehow less worthy of visiting than nearby Holland or romantic France. While Brussels certainly has a slower pace to it, there’s no denying that it’s now at the heart of European progress, and the city center and its highly personalized products are as alluring as anywhere.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium with a population of about 1 million while the population of Brussels cosmopolitan district is about 2 million. The official languages of the city are French and Dutch but those who speak French are in the majority. As a result of this, there are two names for every street and they may not sound the same.
English is also commonly spoken due to the presence of some international institutions like the European Parliament, NATO and European Commission. However, it is important for you to note that tourist or general information is not written in English. Majority of train stations make use of French and Dutch for public announcements but larger stations like Zuidstation/Gare Du Midi will include English and at times German. On trams, buses and metros, English is used at the last resort for passing across information like terminal stops and line transfers. If you think you don't understand what is being said, you should ask from those close you.
The Statue of Europe, also known as Unity in Peace, is a statue which indicates the harmony of Europe. It is located at the backyard of Convent Van Maerlant Van Maerlant Street, in the European Quarter of Brussels and it validates the slogan of the European Union (EU), Unity in Assortment.
Exchange rate fluctuations can have a considerable impact on your trip budget. If your home currency has appreciated in value in the recent term over the currency of your destination you are likely to find the place inexpensive.
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Graphic showing average weather in Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
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