Brussels is Belgium’s capital and largest city. About a tenth of Belgium’s total population lives in the Greater Brussels area. Yet, the significance of this town goes far beyond its role as a country capital. As the seat of the European Union’s parliament it has a certain claim to be called the EU capital as well and as the home to NATO headquarters, it also plays a huge role in transatlantic politics. The presence of such a large number of multinational organizations adds to Brussels’ open-minded, international atmosphere that helps visitors from anywhere in the world feel right at home here. 

LocationPopulationMetro area populationAreaDensity
Central Belgium185,1001,218,300161 km²7362 / km²

As Belgium is a country that combines various cultural and historic influences, Brussels is the focal point of all of these impacts. People here speak French or Flemish or a mix thereof and many quarters of the city have a very distinctive feel to them as they have been marked over centuries by a certain part of the population. This eclectic mix reflects in the sights and attractions of the city, which include the Atomium building, the museum quarter at Mont des Arts, the Grand Place with the baroque guildhalls and of course iconic Manneken Pis sculpture.

Brussels, the former capital of the Duchy of Brabant, a part of the Roman Empire, became the country’s capital when Belgium gained independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1830. The town had allegedly grown from a chapel built in honor of Saint Michael in 7th century, although those origins appear rather murky. Brussels’ significance rose sharply in the mid-20th century, when the European Economic Community was headquartered here, as the European Community and later the European Union grew out of that organization, retaining Brussels as their seat.

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