Belgium Overview

Belgium is a small country in northern Europe that has historically straddled the invisible line between the Latin speaking countries and the German speaking countries of Europe. Officially known as the Kingdom of Belgium, the country is host to major international organizations such as the EU headquarters, NATO and the United Nations. Belgium is a land of tasty waffles and chocolate, strong beer served in small glasses and distinctive, immaculate facades on buildings that provide character to their towns and cities. Bordered by The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France and the English Channel, this small country is often used as a stop-over when travelling between Amsterdam and Paris. Brussels and Antwerp are the two easy stops between France and the Netherlands but Belgium has much more to offer. The beautiful canal-ringed city of Bruges, specifically, is an architectural gem for this part of northern Europe. The small town of Ghent is also another area which could eat up a couple of days. Belgium has been the battle ground of Europe for larger countries like France and Germany over the last few hundred years and the evidence is in every town. Belgium has a number of historical locations from both World Wars that are worth visiting as well. Although a quick stop-over for a day or so can give you a taste of what Belgium is all about, staying for a week or more will give you much more appreciation for this tiny awesome country.

Antwerp
Bruges
Brussels
Ghent

Bruges

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Mike Minckler

The Markt (Market Square), Bruges, Belgium
The Markt (Market Square)
Quai of the Rosary, Bruges, Belgium
Quai of the Rosary
The Markt, Bruges, Belgium
The Markt
Church of Our Lady, Bruges, Belgium
Church of Our Lady
The Belfry, Bruges, Belgium
The Belfry
Sint-Salvator Cathedral, Bruges, Belgium
Sint-Salvator Cathedral

Bruges is a magnificent and unforgettable historic city in the Northwest of Belgium. The old town centre is a stunning collection of towers and beautiful stone buildings that have somehow remained intact over the centuries preserving the impressive medieval architecture. The city's fortunes over its history have relied on the importance of its port. After silting up over the centuries and causing the town to decline, it has now re-emerged as one of Europe's most modern and important ports. Bruges also lays claim to being one of the modern era's first tourist destinations, as wealthy British and French tourists began to visit in the late 19th century to view the impressive stone-built medieval architecture . The best way to appreciate all that this amazing city has to offer is to head out on foot exploring the squares, streets, canals and colourful facades. Huge stone towers topped with spires and distinctive points add amazing character to an otherwise flat landscape and give those on foot some general points of direction as you wander the city. On top of being a Unesco World Heritage site, Bruges continues to be widely touted as one of the rare surviving gems of Northern Europe. If you only have time to visit one place in Belgium make sure you don't miss Bruges.

The Markt or Market Square in central Bruges, the iconic Belfry tower is on the far right and in the middle is the Provincial Hof, Bruges, Belgium
The Markt or Market Square in central Bruges, the iconic Belfry tower is on the far right and in the middle is the Provincial Hof
The Burg Square of Bruges with the Town Hall and the Chancellery, Bruges, Belgium
The Burg Square of Bruges with the Town Hall and the Chancellery
Streets of Bruges, Belgium
Streets of Bruges
Streets of Bruges, Belgium
Streets of Bruges
Bruges Buildings and Sint-Salvator Cathedral, Belgium
Bruges Buildings and Sint-Salvator Cathedral
Canals of Bruges, Belgium
Canals of Bruges
Canals of Bruges, Belgium
Canals of Bruges
Canals of Bruges, Belgium
Canals of Bruges
Nameless Building, Bruges, Belgium
Nameless Building
Bruges Streets and the Belfry Tower, Belgium
Bruges Streets and the Belfry Tower
The Bonne-Chière Windmill, Bruges, Belgium
The Bonne-Chière Windmill
Church of our Lady and Canal, Bruges, Belgium
Church of our Lady and Canal
Bruges Canal, Belgium
Bruges Canal
Quai of the Rosary, Bruges, Belgium
Quai of the Rosary
Provincial Hof in Market Square, Bruges, Belgium
Provincial Hof in Market Square
The Kruispoort, Bruges, Belgium
The Kruispoort
Burg Square, Bruges, Belgium
Burg Square
Statue on top of the Chancellery, Bruges, Belgium
Statue on top of the Chancellery
Church of our Lady and Simon Stevin Statue, Bruges, Belgium
Church of our Lady and Simon Stevin Statue
Statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, Bruges, Belgium
Statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck
The Markt or Market Square in central Bruges, Belgium
The Markt or Market Square in central Bruges
Canal in Bruges, Belgium
Canal in Bruges
The Bonne-Chière Windmill, Bruges, Belgium
The Bonne-Chière Windmill
Bruges Canal, Belgium
Bruges Canal
The Belfry Tower, Bruges, Belgium
The Belfry Tower
The Provincial Hof and Statue, Bruges, Belgium
The Provincial Hof and Statue
Town Hall, Bruges, Belgium
Town Hall
Market Square, Bruges, Belgium
Market Square
The Belfry Tower, Bruges, Belgium
The Belfry Tower
The Belfry Tower, Bruges, Belgium
The Belfry Tower
The Belfry Tower, Bruges, Belgium
The Belfry Tower
Old St. John's Hospital, Belgium
Old St. John's Hospital
Bruges Canal, Belgium
Bruges Canal
Bruges Canal, Belgium
Bruges Canal
Sint-Salvator Cathedral, Bruges, Belgium
Sint-Salvator Cathedral
Building Bridge, Bruges, Belgium
Building Bridge
The Chancellery, Bruges, Belgium
The Chancellery
Quai of the Rosary with the Church of our Lady on the left and the Belfry Tower on the right, Bruges, Belgium
Quai of the Rosary with the Church of our Lady on the left and the Belfry Tower on the right
Statues and carvings on the Town Hall, Bruges, Belgium
Statues and carvings on the Town Hall
Bruges Windmill, Belgium
Bruges Windmill
Canal in Bruges, Belgium
Canal in Bruges
Bruges Backflip, Belgium
Bruges Backflip
Church of our Lady, Bruges, Belgium
Church of our Lady
Burg Square Statue, Bruges, Belgium
Burg Square Statue
Church of our Lady, Bruges, Belgium
Church of our Lady
Statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, Bruges, Belgium
Statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck
The Belfry, Bruges, Belgium
The Belfry
The Provincial Hof, Bruges, Belgium
The Provincial Hof
Market Square, Bruges, Belgium
Market Square
The Belfry at Night, Bruges, Belgium
The Belfry at Night
Market Square, Bruges, Belgium
Market Square
Church of our Lady, Bruges, Belgium
Church of our Lady
The Belfry, Bruges, Belgium
The Belfry
Sint-Salvator Cathedral, Bruges, Belgium
Sint-Salvator Cathedral

Antwerp

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Mike Minckler

Het Steen Fortress, Antwerp, Belgium
Het Steen Fortress
Antwerp Central Train Station, Antwerp, Belgium
Antwerp Central Train Station
Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Cathedral of our Lady
Downtown Antwerp, Belgium
Downtown Antwerp
Saint Carolus Borromeus Church, Antwerp, Belgium
Saint Carolus Borromeus Church
Statue of Brabo and Guildhouses of Antwerp, Belgium
Statue of Brabo and Guildhouses of Antwerp

Antwerp is a large port city in the north east of Belgium and is the capital of the province of Flanders. Antwerp was such an important port city during World War II that, following its liberation by the British in 1944, the Germans tried to destroy the port by hitting the city with more V-2 rockets than any other target during the entire war. Due to this attack by Hitler's rockets, most of the city was destroyed and rebuilt in a modern style after the war, however, there are still areas that survived the onslaught during the last years of the war that make it well worth visiting. The main square that houses the flag-adorned city hall and the classic 16th century Guildhouses is impressive. Just beyond the square is the massive Cathedral of Our Lady with numerous figurine carvings and a huge bell tower. Along the river front area of the Scheldt River there is the Het Steen, literally 'The Stone', which is the city's oldest building and a surviving fortification originally built to counteract viking raids. If time permits, take at least a night out of your schedule to see what Antwerp has to offer.

Cathedral of our Lady at Sunset, Antwerp, Belgium
Cathedral of our Lady at Sunset
Antwerp City Hall, Belgium
Antwerp City Hall
Antwerp Downtown, Belgium
Antwerp Downtown
Grote Markt Guildhouses, Antwerp, Belgium
Grote Markt Guildhouses
Cathedral of our Lady entrance, Antwerp, Belgium
Cathedral of our Lady entrance
Antwerp City Hall, Antwerp, Belgium
Antwerp City Hall
Het Steen Fortress, Antwerp, Belgium
Het Steen Fortress
Waffle Shop, Antwerp, Belgium
Waffle Shop
Antwerp Downtown, Belgium
Antwerp Downtown
Antwerp Main Square, Belgium
Antwerp Main Square
Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Cathedral of our Lady
Statue of Brabo and the giant's hand, Antwerp, Belgium
Statue of Brabo and the giant's hand
Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Cathedral of our Lady
The Scheldt River, Antwerp, Belgium
The Scheldt River
Het Steen Fortress, Antwerp, Belgium
Het Steen Fortress
Antwerp Centre, Belgium
Antwerp Centre
Downtown Buildings, Antwerp, Belgium
Downtown Buildings
Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Cathedral of our Lady
Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Cathedral of our Lady
The Scheldt River, Antwerp, Belgium
The Scheldt River
Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Cathedral of our Lady
Downtown Antwerp, Belgium
Downtown Antwerp
Downtown Antwerp, Belgium
Downtown Antwerp
Main Square and Guildhouses, Antwerp, Belgium
Main Square and Guildhouses
Antwerp Backflip, Belgium
Antwerp Backflip
Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Cathedral of our Lady
Statue of Brabo and the giant's hand, Antwerp, Belgium
Statue of Brabo and the giant's hand

Ghent

Photography by Renee Martin

Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium

Ghent is a city of just over half a million people in the Flemish region of Belgium. Having been one of the richest cities in northern Europe in the middle ages it has some interesting history and impressive architecture that can easily provide a couple of days exploration.

Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium

Brussels

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Mike Minckler

Broodhuis, Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Broodhuis, Grand Place
Brussels City Hall, Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall, Grand Place
Guildhalls, Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Guildhalls, Grand Place
Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Grand Place
Statue in Brussels, Belgium
Statue in Brussels
Guildhall, Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Guildhall, Grand Place

Brussels is Belgium's largest city, its capital and also the de facto capital of the European Union. With competing influences from the Dutch and French, this truly international city has expanded from a small fortress town in the early 900's AD to a sprawling metropolis with more than a million people, making it the largest urban area in Belgium. There are numerous museums, art galleries and historic buildings throughout the city with some excellent old school taverns and pubs featuring hundreds of strong Belgium beers. Undoubtedly the most impressive part of Brussels is the stunning Grand Place, the central market square. With a mixture of Gothic and Baroque architecture among the guild houses that make up the square, the Grand Place can leave you dizzy from turning in circles to see all the amazing facades and intricate carvings adorned throughout. Brussels is a beautiful city in northern Europe and it is no surprise that many international organizations including NATO and the EU have made this city their home base. Although Brussels doesn't have the big blockbuster tourist sites of Paris, there is a very Parisian feel when walking the streets, with French being the main language you will hear spoken and the architecture bearing the same grandiose flavour. The city is also a main transport hub for Northern Europe so you will most likely be transiting through the area anyway; why not stop for an amazing waffle, some strong beer, chocolates and tasty frites?

View of Brussels, Belgium
View of Brussels
Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Grand Place
Manneken Pis, Brussels, Belgium
Manneken Pis
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall
Broodhuis, Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Broodhuis, Grand Place
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall
Church of Our Lady of Sablon, Brussels, Belgium
Church of Our Lady of Sablon
Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Grand Place
Statue near main train station, Brussels, Belgium
Statue near main train station
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall
Guildhall, Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Guildhall, Grand Place
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall
Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium
Royal Museum of Fine Arts
Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium
Royal Museum of Fine Arts
Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium
Royal Museum of Fine Arts
Streets in Brussels, Belgium
Streets in Brussels
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels, Belgium
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
Broodhuis, Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Broodhuis, Grand Place
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall
Train into Brussels, Belgium
Train into Brussels
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall
Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Grand Place
Grand Place Statue on Guildhall, Brussels, Belgium
Grand Place Statue on Guildhall
Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Grand Place
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall
Brussels Shopping Arcade, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels Shopping Arcade
Brussels City Hall, Brussels, Belgium
Brussels City Hall