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Belgium is a small country in Western Europe that has a rich cultural heritage and an interesting history. Due to its small size, you can reach almost all the famous landmarks of the country by train. Apart from its rich history and remarkable architecture, Belgium also boasts extremely delicious cuisine. And of course Belgian beer and chocolate are some of the things you definitely must-try during your stay there. 

Here are some of the most famous sights in Belgium that we picked:

Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp, Belgium
Antwerp, Belgium | Photo by Zoë Gayah Jonker on Unsplash

The city of Antwerp is the center of the province of Antwerp in northern Belgium and its one of the largest Belgian cities. It is located on the river Scheldt, near its confluence with the North Sea, and with this location ranks among the maritime cities of the country. Antwerp is one of the most developed regions in cultural and economic terms, as it is important for the country’s economy and it is worth seeing its sights, through which one can touch the masterpieces of Rubens and feel the spirit and entrepreneurship of that time. – transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity. 

Thre is an interesting legend about the name of the city.  The Shelda River was once guarded by a mythical giant named Antigoon. He charged everyone who wished to cross its waters and those who refused he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river. A young man named Brabo proved brave enough to defeat the monster – he heroically managed to cut off the giant’s hand and throw it in the river. This is how the name Antwerp originated – Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen – akin to Old English hand and wearpan (means to throw), that has changed to today’s warp.

Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium

Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium | Photo by Seifeddine Dridi on Unsplash

The Grand Place is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels. It is also considered one of the most beautiful squares in Europe,and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.

The Town Hall is the central edifice on the Grand Place. It was built in several stages between 1402 and 1455 and is also the square’s only remaining medieval building. Brussels’ Town Hall stands 96 meters (315 ft) tall and is capped by a 3-meter (12 ft) statue of Saint Michael slaying a demon.

Tip: You will get the best full view of the beautiful designs from the town hall balcony.

Bruges

Bruges, Belgium
Bruges, Belgium | Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

You cannot plan a trip to Belgium without visiting the charming Bruges. Also known as the Little Venice because of its romantic channels, the town is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s not surprising that in 2002  the town was named the European Capital of Culture. 

Some interesting facts:

  • Bruges is the best-preserved medieval city in Belgium
  • The historic center is part of the UNESCO cultural heritage because of its original architecture
  • 2 million tourists visit the town each year

Bruges is located about 98 km northwest of the European capital Brussels. If you have a car, it will take you about an hour and 15 minutes to get to town.

Interesting sights to visit include the Saint Saviour’s Cathedral, Burg Square with the City Hall – one of the oldest gothic buildings in the region, Markt Square with the historic bell tower, and the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which houses the famous relic of holy blood.

Ghent

Ghent, Belgium | Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

From the 9th century, the city began to occupy one of the most important places in the life of Flanders, defending the abbey from the attacks of the Vikings and producing the best silk in Europe. The first settlers are mentioned in chronicles from the 7th century, but reached its peak in the early 11th century, becoming the second-largest in Europe. Ghent is not as crowded as Brussels and Bruges, so even in high season, you can safely walk through the ancient streets without much fuss and crowds of tourists. You can find all attractions in the heart of the city.

Anyone even slightly interested in art history should be anxious to get a look inside St Bavo’s Cathedral, a largely gothic cathedral that also serves as an unofficial museum of religious art. Besides precious altarpieces by Rubens and the Van Eyck brothers – the latter painted The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, considered the masterpiece from the Flemish primitives and for that reason, the subject of multiple thefts – an opulent Rococo pulpit, stunning stained-glass windows and countless other gems are on display.

Dinant

Dinant, Belgium | Photo by Sol Mitnick on Unsplash

The small town is sheltered by the river Meuse. A curious fact is that this is the home of the inventor of the saxophone – Adolf Sachs. His house is open to visitors, where they can learn more about this magnificent instrument. You can visit the citadel in the city, which seems to be perched on the edge of a sheer cliff. Do not forget to try the Belgian potatoes with a special mayonnaise sauce. 

Leuven Town Hall

Leuven City Hall | Image by Harry Fabel from Pixabay

The town of Leuven is the capital and largest city of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region of Belgium. The Town Hall building looks more like a Cathedral than a local government headquarters. This is largely due to all 236 statues, which represent various scenes of a religious nature. The Town Hall has three main stories, lined with pointed Gothic windows on the three sides visible from the Markt.

The building that we today know as the Town Hall was once the Voirste Huys (front house) of a larger complex of municipal buildings on which construction started in 1439 at the site of an existing Town Hall. In 1469 the building was finally complete.

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