The capital of 500 million Europeans is a cosmopolitan city, with an art de vivre to be envied. The growth of EU institutions and international organisations has enriched this historical, multi-cultural, plurilingual city. The unexpected awaits you at every turn. No matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something happening: creativity here is contagious, good food is easy to find and the mood is festive. Add a dash of humour and a pinch of self-mockery and you have the recipe for the city’s legendary conviviality.
Besides Europe, Brussels is also the capital of comic strips, surrealism, chocolate, Art nouveau and beer, and is one of the greenest city. Its role and its talents may be on a vast scale, but it owes its very special charm to its human scale. It is an ideal size which enables it to adapt to your requirements or wishes, however ambitious they may be, and however long your stay.
Brussels is home to hundreds of international headquarters of scientific organisations and enterprises, from healthcare multinationals and research centres to chemical associations and energy producers. For the second consecutive year, rankings from the Union of International Associations show that Brussels is the N° 1 destination for association congresses in Europe. One of the reasons why so many meetings come here is because things happen in Brussels. There’s a buzz in the city. Decisions are taken here, making it also the best place for lobbying, in all its forms. That’s partly why such a vast mix of organisations and associations have set up base in Brussels, helping to create this multicultural melting pot.
The cultural and historic heritage of brussels is really unique: the Grand’Place, considered one of the most beautiful squares in the world, is also included on the list of UNESCO world Heritage sites. Many outstanding buildings in a wide variety of styles, from mediaeval constructions to the most modern architecture, demonstrate the great architectural richness of the city. The Ommegang, a great historic pageant reconstructing Charles v’s triumphal entrance to the Grand’Place in brussels in 1549 remains the oldest survivor of the intangible heritage of brussels.
Whatever the time, the day or the season, something is always going on. It must be said that the brussels diary of festivals and other recurrent events is pretty impressive: from the international Fantastic Film Festival to the Jazz Marathon, a year in brussels contains nearly 14,500 events of every kind. From the historic Ommegang to the contemporary dance festivals, brussels has something to satisfy the most varied or unusual. Major events also keep pace with the seasons: the ‘winter wonders’ bring you one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in europe and an outdoor ice-skating rink right in the city centre, while in summer, ‘Bruxelles les bains’ transforms an entire neighbourhood into a seaside resort. And while the ‘Reine Elisabeth’ is one of the world’s most prestigious music competitions, the ‘Memorial van Damme’ attracts the cream of international athletes each year.
Brussels is one of Europe’s greenest capitals. Green to get to: it is the hub of a clean, high-speed European rail network that helps reduce transport carbon emissions… And green to work in: parks and gardens are everywhere, there’s even a forest.
In fact, Brussels has more greenery per habitant than any other European capital city. From the Abbey’s 15th century gardens to the greenhouses of the Royal Palace at Laeken in the far north of the city, there is no district of the city that does not have a park, tree-lined streets or avenues and its islands of gardens. Brussels is a city that can breathe. An unrivalled quality of life, at your own pace.
2012 is also the Gourmet Year in Brussels, with “Brusselicious”. Throughout the year, Brusselicious will showcase the taste and creativity of great food in Brussels – its recipes, traditions and secrets – and build the appeal of sustainable “slow food” prepared with authentic local ingredients. All served with a large plate of Brussels conviviality. Are you hesitating between mussels and fries and a stoemp with belgian endives, but you would like to try one of the many starred restaurants of the capital? The city is full of possibilities and places of discovery that often turn into places of pilgrimage.
You will have to extend your stay! Especially as you still have to try some of the chocolate delights that are bound to melt anyone’s heart, and there are over a hundred traditionally-brewed beers to discover. From the most typical to the most modern, the cuisine in Brussels is welcoming and generous. So which of the many possibilities will leave you the best memory? The chip stands, bistros, star-winning restaurants or shady terraces? Perhaps the box of ‘pralines’ (those gorgeous filled chocolates) that you will take home to your friends!