What is Belgium known for? It’s a small European country nestled between France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Luxembourg. It’s a country that often flies under the radar when it comes to global recognition. However, don’t let its size fool you; Belgium boasts a mind-blowing cultural heritage.
- Belgium is often called the “Home of the Comic Strip,” as it’s the birthplace of famous comic book characters
- Durbuy, located in the Belgian Ardennes, is often considered the world’s smallest town
- Belgium is home to six of the world’s 12 Trappist monasteries that brew beer
- In Belgium, it’s illegal to wash your car on a Sunday, and you must always have a first-aid kit in your vehicle
- Brussels is famous for its quirky statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain, known as Manneken Pis
- Despite their name, French fries are believed to have been invented in Belgium
- The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels are the largest greenhouses in Europe
With culinary delights, and historical significance that have left an indelible mark on the world. In this blog, we will explore nine things that Belgium is known for, shedding light on the country’s unique contributions to art, cuisine, and much more.
What is Belgium Famous for? It’s Chocolate
1. Belgian Chocolate Tasting: Belgian chocolate tasting is a sensory experience that delights the palate. It begins with the selection of various chocolates, each with distinct fillings, textures, and flavors, from dark to milk chocolate.
Some Legendary Belgian Chocolate brands:
- Godiva: Founded in 1926, Godiva is one of the most famous Belgian chocolate brands with a global presence. They offer a wide range of premium chocolates and truffles.
- Neuhaus: Neuhaus is one of the oldest chocolate companies in Belgium, dating back to 1857. They are credited with inventing the praline and continue to produce a wide array of chocolates.
- Leonidas: Leonidas is known for its delicious, fresh chocolates made with high-quality ingredients. They have a broad selection of pralines and other chocolate products.
- Pierre Marcolini: Pierre Marcolini is a renowned chocolatier known for his artisanal approach to chocolate making. His brand offers a wide range of chocolates made from single-origin cocoa beans.
Unwrapping a piece, you’ll detect the aroma of cocoa, promising a sumptuous experience. The initial bite reveals a smooth texture that melts, releasing flavours like roasted nuts, sweet fruits, or subtle spices. The balance of sweetness and bitterness lingers, leaving you wanting more. Yum!
Belgian chocolate tasting is more than savoring; it’s an appreciation of craftsmanship, tradition, and dedication. It invites you to explore the world of chocolate with its delightful complexity, creating a lasting memory of the rich chocolate heritage that Belgium is known for.
Grand Place in Brussels
2. Grand Place in Brussels: The Grand Place in Brussels, at the heart of the city, is a remarkable square. It is known for its impressive architecture and historical significance. The square is lined with elegant guild halls and features the iconic Town Hall building. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a hub of activity in Brussels.
The architecture is intricate and striking, showcasing a blend of Gothic and Baroque styles. The square’s vibrancy is captivating, especially during events and festivals when it comes alive with music and celebrations.
The Grand Place serves as a central meeting point for both locals and tourists. It’s an excellent place to relax, people-watch, and soak in the city’s atmosphere. Whether you’re admiring the architecture, exploring nearby attractions, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll, the Grand Place offers a memorable experience in the heart of Brussels.
3. Bruges’ Canals: The canals of Bruges are a defining feature of the city. They form a picturesque network of waterways that wind through the historic center. These canals, an integral part of Bruges’ identity, enhance its romantic ambiance and provide a unique perspective on the city’s architecture.
Navigating these canals by boat is a popular way to explore Bruges. As you glide along the tranquil waters, you’ll be treated to charming views of medieval buildings, cobblestone streets, and quaint bridges. The canals are fringed with willow trees and adorned with flowers, adding to their natural charm.
The canals’ serene atmosphere offers a serene escape from the bustling streets, making it a must-visit attraction for tourists. They provide not only a means of transportation but also a delightful experience that allows you to appreciate Bruges’ beauty from a different angle, creating lasting memories of this enchanting Belgian city.
What Is Belgium Known for? Its Beer!
4. Belgian Beer Tasting: Belgian beer tasting is a flavourful journey that reveals the country’s diverse beer culture. Renowned globally for its quality, Belgian beer is a cherished tradition. The process begins by selecting various beers, each with unique flavors and styles, from Trappist ales to lambics.
Upon tasting, you experience a rich spectrum of flavors—subtle hints of hops, malt sweetness, and yeast complexities. The mouthfeel varies, offering a range of textures from crisp to smooth. Whether you’re sipping in a cozy pub or touring a brewery, the emphasis is on appreciating the art of brewing.
5 Iconic Belgian Beers You Have to Try :
- Chimay: Known for its Trappist ales with red, white, and blue labels, each representing a different beer style and strength.
- Duvel: A famous strong, pale ale with a distinctive hoppy and fruity character.
- Hoegaarden: A well-known Belgian witbier (wheat beer) appreciated for its light, refreshing, and slightly citrusy flavor.
- Orval: A Trappist beer with a unique, complex taste, known for its distinctive bottle shape and flavor profile.
- Westmalle Tripel: A classic Belgian tripel with a strong and complex flavor profile, brewed by Trappist monks at the Westmalle Abbey.
Belgian beer tasting is a testament to craftsmanship, tradition, and passion. It’s a chance to explore the world of beer in all its diversity. It leaves a lasting impression, offering insights into Belgium’s esteemed beer heritage and a desire to further explore this beloved aspect of Belgian culture.
The Historic Waterloo Battlefield
5. Waterloo Battlefield: The Waterloo Battlefield is a historically significant site located in Belgium. It was the scene of a pivotal battle in 1815, where Napoleon Bonaparte faced defeat, ending his rule and reshaping European history. This battlefield, with its rolling terrain, serves as a reminder of the momentous clash.
Visitors can explore the area, which includes the Lion’s Mound, a prominent hill that offers a panoramic view of the battlefield. Nearby, a visitor center provides insights into the battle’s events through exhibits and artifacts. It’s a place where history comes to life, allowing visitors to envision the fierce conflict that unfolded here.
The Waterloo Battlefield serves as a place of reflection and remembrance, commemorating the soldiers who fought and the impact of this battle on the course of European history. It’s a must-visit for history enthusiasts, offering a glimpse into a defining moment in the early 19th century.
Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels
6. Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels: Cinquantenaire Park, situated in the heart of Brussels, is a sprawling green oasis that offers a serene escape from the bustling city.
Iconic Museums In Cinquantenaire Park :
- Cinquantenaire Museum (Royal Art and History Museum): The Cinquantenaire Museum, also known as the Royal Museums of Art and History, is the main museum within the park. It houses an extensive collection of art, artifacts, and historical objects from various civilizations and time periods. The museum’s collections include Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and European decorative arts, among others.
- Autoworld Brussels: Autoworld is an automobile museum located within Cinquantenaire Park. It features a remarkable collection of vintage and classic cars, showcasing the evolution of the automobile industry over the years.
- Cinquantenaire Art Gallery: The Cinquantenaire Art Gallery, also known as the Art & History Museum – Meunier Museum, is located adjacent to the main Cinquantenaire Museum. It is dedicated to the works of Belgian sculptor Constantin Meunier and displays his sculptures, drawings, and paintings.
Established in the late 19th century to commemorate Belgium’s 50th anniversary of independence, the park boasts a harmonious blend of natural beauty and architectural grandeur.
At its center stands the magnificent Triumphal Arch, an imposing structure reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. This arch serves as the park’s focal point and symbolizes Belgium’s historic achievements.
Cinquantenaire Park features vast expanses of manicured lawns, tree-lined pathways, and tranquil ponds, making it an ideal spot for picnics, leisurely strolls, or relaxation amidst nature.
The park is also home to several museums, including the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, which houses an extensive collection of military artifacts.
Whether you’re admiring the architecture, taking in the scenic beauty, or immersing yourself in history at its museums, Cinquantenaire Park offers a multifaceted and picturesque experience that’s a must-visit while exploring Brussels.
The Iconic Atomium in Brussels
7. Atomium in Brussels: The Atomium in Brussels is a unique architectural structure that resembles an iron crystal magnified many times. Built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, it has since become an iconic symbol of the city. The Atomium consists of interconnected spheres and tubes, creating a futuristic and distinctive appearance.
Visitors can explore the interior spheres, which host exhibitions and displays that often celebrate scientific and technological advancements. As you ascend to the top sphere, you’re rewarded with panoramic views of Brussels, making it a popular attraction for tourists.
The Atomium is not only an architectural marvel but also a symbol of human progress and innovation. It’s a testament to Brussels’ place in the world of science and technology, offering visitors a unique and memorable experience while gaining insight into the city’s forward-looking spirit.
Hiking in the Scenic Ardennes
8. Hiking in the Ardennes: Hiking in the Ardennes, a region spanning Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, offers a natural escape that is both serene and invigorating. Characterized by rolling hills, dense forests, and tranquil rivers, it’s an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a quieter alternative to bustling city life.
The trails meander through the picturesque landscape, providing opportunities for exploration and adventure. As you hike, you’ll encounter diverse flora and fauna, adding to the experience’s richness. The peaceful ambiance, broken only by the rustling leaves and flowing waters, allows for a deeper connection with nature.
Some popular hiking routes in the Ardennes:
- GR 16 – Transardennaise: This long-distance trail crosses the entire Ardennes region, starting in the north near La Roche-en-Ardenne and ending in the south near Bouillon. It covers approximately 160 kilometers and offers a diverse range of landscapes.
- Lesse Valley: Hike along the River Lesse, starting from Dinant and following the scenic valley through charming villages and dense forests. You can also combine this with a kayaking adventure on the river.
- High Fens: Explore the High Fens (Hautes Fagnes) Natural Park, which is known for its unique and fragile ecosystem. The park offers various hiking trails, such as the Signal de Botrange, which is the highest point in Belgium.
- Ardennes Battlefields: Visit the historic battlefields of the Ardennes, where significant World War II battles took place. There are trails and memorials around Bastogne and other nearby towns.
The Ardennes is suitable for hikers of all levels, with paths ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks. Along the way, you may stumble upon quaint villages and historical sites, further enriching your journey.
Hiking in the Ardennes is a chance to disconnect from the modern world, embrace the beauty of the natural surroundings, and enjoy a rejuvenating outdoor experience in this tranquil and picturesque region.
Antwerp’s Diamond District
9. Antwerp’s Diamond District: Antwerp’s Diamond District is a globally renowned hub for the diamond trade. Located in the heart of the city, it’s a concentrated area where numerous dealers and jewelers are situated. Here, you’ll find a bustling marketplace dedicated to diamonds.
The district is characterized by a cluster of jewelry shops, gemstone dealers, and diamond workshops. It’s a place where rough diamonds are cut, polished, and transformed into exquisite jewelry pieces.
Some iconic attractions in the Diamond District:
- Diamondland: Diamondland is a popular tourist attraction and diamond showroom where you can learn about the diamond-cutting process and shop for certified diamonds. They offer guided tours, so you can get insights into the world of diamonds.
- Baunat: Baunat is a well-established and reputable online diamond jeweler with a showroom in Antwerp. They offer high-quality, certified diamonds, engagement rings, and other diamond jewelry.
- Coster Diamonds: Coster Diamonds is one of the oldest diamond polishing companies in the world, with a rich history dating back to 1840. They have a showroom in the Antwerp Diamond District where you can browse and purchase diamonds and diamond jewelry.
- Diamond Factory: Diamond Factory specializes in custom-made diamond jewelry and has its own diamond-cutting workshop. You can work with their team to design unique pieces.
- Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC): The AWDC has a visitor center in the Antwerp Diamond District where you can learn about the diamond industry in Antwerp and get information about reputable diamond dealers.
Visitors can explore the district, witness the craftsmanship behind these precious stones, and even purchase diamond jewelry of exceptional quality. Antwerp’s Diamond District has a rich history dating back centuries, and it continues to play a central role in the international diamond trade.
While it may lack extravagant adjectives, the Diamond District’s reputation as the “Diamond Capital of the World” speaks volumes about its significance in the global diamond industry, making it a must-visit for those interested in the world of precious gems. When people ask “What is Belgium Known for” more often than not the Diamond district comes to mind!
Belgium’s travel offerings extend far beyond its chocolates and beers. Whether you’re exploring historic battlefields, admiring medieval architecture, or indulging in culinary delights, Belgium has something for every traveler.
Its blend of history, culture, and natural beauty makes it a must-visit destination in Europe, offering a memorable experience that will leave you wanting to return for more.
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