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Belgium

Belgium
Belgium
Belgium

Belgium is a federal state, with 3 relatively autonomous regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels and 3 languages: Dutch, French and German. Belgium has through history played a role as the great meeting place of Western Europe. Belgian architecture and lifestyle of its people are a testament of Belgian link with Austrians, Spanish, French and Dutch. Architectural styles range from Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque to Nouveau. Belgian cities are full with museums, historical buildings, theatre, music, carnivals and festivals, where folklore is an important part of life.

Brussels is one of the world's great cosmopolitan cities, home to both the European Union and NATO, as well as a wealth of international trade and finance. Architectural styles range from Gothic cathedrals and churches to the gracious classical facades of the Palais des Nations, the Royal Palace and to the many art nouveau and art deco houses. The heart of Brussels, the Grand'Place historic square, lined with exuberantly ornate guild houses and focused on the Gothic heights of the Hotel de Ville, is one of Europe's finest and the city's centre of social and civic life. At the corner of the Rue de l'Etuve and the Rue du Chene, stands the fountain of Manneken-Pis, the beloved figure in Brussels. Entertainment events in Brussels, keeping with the city's cosmopolitan outlook, range from the annual Queen Elizabeth Music Competition, which draws aspiring classical musicians from all over the world, to the annual Jazz Festival; visit the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie and the Palais des Beaux Arts&

Wallonia is situated in the south with the rolling hills of the Ardennes, numerous castles, monasteries, gardens and country inns where sampling of all the cheeses and beers of the region is serious work. The main cities are Liege, the "Cite ardente that developed Europe's earliest and most advanced coal mining industry, metallurgy plants, glassworks and especially gun factories; Namur, the historic, strategic, fortified city on the Meuse river with famous Citadel of Namur, a strategic bastion; and Tournai famous for a fabulous Romanesque/Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame,Palace of the Prince-Bishops, one of the largest secular Gothic buildings of Europe, 18th century royal porcelain and XV and XVI century tapestry.

Flanders, in the north, is a land of tree-lined canals, gorgeous skies, rich fields, beguinages, carillons, festivals and breweries with the great sister cities of Antwerp, a university city, centre of diamond industry and a huge historic centre; Bruges, or the  Venice of the North , a medieval city of stunning beauty and charm criss-crossed by canals and cobbled streets is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites; and Ghent, a leading industrial center and a major inland port famous for its castle.

Beginnings of Belgium date to 57 BC, when Julius Caesar extended the power of Rome into the region of Europe that is now Belgium. The country's name goes back to a Celtic tribe, the Belgae. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, life in the area focused on the semi-independent trading and manufacturing towns of Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp and Liege, that rose out of the ruins left by the Viking destruction of northern Europe. After centuries of war and many accidents of dynastic succession, the area that had come to be known as the Lowlands, comprising the approximate modern territories of Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg, came into the possession of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor in the early 1500s. Protestants succeeded in establishing the United Provinces of the Netherlands in the north, splitting the Lowlands into two hostile camps, geographically and politically. The remaining Catholic territory after these wars is roughly equivalent to modern Belgium. After two centuries of Spanish rule, the Austrian Hapsburgs gained control of the country after the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), Napoleon annexed it to France in 1794 and, after his defeat in 1815, Belgium was awarded to The Netherlands. Belgium has existed in its present form since 1830, when a rebellion led to independence from The Netherlands, with Leopold I, a German prince, as the first King of the Belgians. Belgium participated in both World Wars and some of the fiercest battles of World War I were fought on "Flanders Fields."

Today, Belgium is considered to offer the highest "quality of life" in the world, testified by Belgium s excellent food, housing, health care, education and infrastructure, its world records for high productivity and low poverty, and the respect for foreign nationals who live in Belgium.

... book a short break to Brussels, Bruges or Other Belgian Destinations

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Ferries to Belgium
Hull to Zeebrugge from Hull, United Kingdom operated by P&O Ferries

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