Wedged in between the Netherlands, France, Germany and Luxembourg, Belgium is a small yet mighty country with growing tourism figures. Belgium’s capital, Brussels, hosts the official seats of the European Commission, Council of the European Union and the European Council as well as a seat of the European Parliament. Brussels may be significant in the history of the European Union as it has been a major centre of international politics since the end of the Second World War. Brussels is also home to the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), EUROCONTROL and a number of multinational companies. As well as being at the heart of the European Union, Brussels attracts a high number of tourists per year, and may have much to offer in terms of food, drink and tourist attractions.
Brussels is a multicultural and multilingual city where most residents speak French, Dutch, Flemish or a combination of both. Like other European cities such as Paris, Brussels is divided into 19 municipalities, each with their own differentiating aspects such as style of architecture, historic influence and cultural dynamics. Perhaps the busiest and most frequented area by tourists in Brussels is the market square, which is home to the Grand Place and City Hall, as well as a large number of traditional Belgium chocolate shops and pubs. The buildings in the square including the City Hall are symbols of Gothic architecture in the 15th century and all have a similar looking style. Tourists may visit the square and take a guided tour of these Gothic Buildings, as many have since become museums.
Nearby the market square is what some may consider as a world-famous state of the Manneken Pis, a small statue of a boy. Every so often, the Manneken statue changes outfit depending on the occasion for example Christmas time or during local festivals. Other cultural places in the area include Les Coeurs de Bois Royal Theatre, which is a puppet show founded in 1946 and to this day has puppets up to 50 years old on display. The Coudenberg on Place de Palais, is the former Palace of Brussels and tourists may take an underground tour to discover the archaeological remains of the palace of Charles V. In the old market square, tourists interested in the history of Brussels may visit the Museum of the City of Brussels, also a UNESCO world heritage site due to the design of the ancient building. Alternatively, tourists interested in something more unusual may visit the Sewers Museum, which provides insight into the unique underground network underneath Brussels and the unique jobs people do below ground level to keep the city from flooding.
For food lovers, visiting Brussels may offer a satisfying variety of different food and beverage to try. Belgian chocolate shops may be found on almost every street in Brussels city centre, as Belgium is home to many famous chocolate brands. This includes Bruyerre, Corne Port Royal, Cote d’Or, Godiva, Leonidas and Jean Galler chocolates. In terms of drink, Belgium may also be known for its high alcohol percentage beer, such as Kwak, Leffe, St. Bernardus, Grimbergen and Wesmalle Belgian beer brands. Furthermore, many stalls and shops in the city centre of Brussels offer the opportunity to try freshly prepared Belgian waffles, with an overwhelming choice in toppings. This includes a combination of melted chocolate, strawberries, cream, golden syrup or other sweet toppings. Belgian food may be considered a close match to German cuisine however, Belgium appears to reign supreme in terms of its world famous delicacies, which may attract tourists year after year.
What other neutral countries or territories like Belgium are profoundly dependent on tourism?