Brussels: Europe’s Capital
The capital and residential city of Belgium and several surrounding municipalities form the bilingual Brussels region. Its residents are made up of Flemings and Walloons. As the secret capital of Europe, it is home to several institutions of the European Union. The NATO headquarters are nearby. In Brussels, services and administration play a bigger role than industry. The many monuments of the old trading town attract numerous visitors every year.
According to AbbreviationFinder, Brussels, Flemish Brussel, French Bruxelles, is the capital and residence of Belgium.
Together with 18 surrounding communities, it forms the 162 km² region of the same name.
The city lies on the Senne and is connected to Antwerp by the Brussels Sea Canal and to Charleroi by smaller canals.
The city proper has just under 150,000 residents, but the entire metropolitan area has more than 1 million residents. The majority of the residents of the bilingual city are either Dutch-speaking Flemings or French-speaking Walloons. With two full universities, three sub-universities or faculties and several universities, Brussels is an important center of education. There are also several libraries, museums and theaters in the city.
The Brussels region is also home to a wide range of industries with more than a third of the country’s industrial companies. In addition to companies in the textile, metal, electrical and chemical industries, there are machine and vehicle factories as well as metallurgical, steel and rolling mills. Inner-city traffic has been relieved by a subway since 1976. The trading center, which was already important in the Middle Ages, also has a port and an international airport.
Capital of Europe?
For the city of Brussels, the areas of administration and services are particularly important.
It is not only the seat of government and administrative authorities in the country, but also of numerous authorities and institutions of international rank. The number of all international organizations based in and around Brussels is estimated at almost 900.
No other city in the European Union has such a concentration of European institutions. Brussels is the seat of the permanent General Secretariat of the Benelux countries, the EU Commission and the European Atomic Energy Community EURATOM. Since 1960 in particular, the number of institutions tied to these authorities has increased rapidly. They currently provide jobs for more than 15,000 civil servants and employees. The NATO headquarters are located in the immediate vicinity of Brussels. 75% of all Belgian banks are also concentrated in Brussels.
This development has led to an immensely high demand for office space in the city in recent years and has caused land prices to rise astronomically. The resident population is therefore increasingly settling on the outskirts, so that some inner-city quarters look deserted at night.
Brussels (the name “Bruocsella” has been used since the 7th century) was built around a castle of the Counts of Leuven (later Dukes of Brabant), built at the end of the 10th century, on an island in the Zenne. In the 11th century the counts moved their seat to the Koudenberg. The settlement that developed between the two castles was already called a trading post at that time, which benefited from its favorable location at the junction of the Cologne-Bruges trade route over the Zenne. Around 1100 this settlement and other settlement cores around the castles were surrounded by a curtain wall. Since the 12th century, the cloth industry gained steadily growing economic weight. After several revolts by the guild citizens, the guilds were given a say in the city administration in 1421.
With the takeover of rule in Brabant by the Dukes of Burgundy (1430), Brussels, until then one of the seven (later four) main towns of Brabant, grew into the capital of the extensive territory. As early as the 14th century, due to the economic boom (cloth and cloth trade, trade in handicrafts; Brussels was the center of Flemish painting), several suburbs outside the wall were created City were included.
Under the Habsburgs, Brussels, newly fortified in 1530, became the capital of the Netherlands. During the Dutch struggle for freedom, the Duke of Alba had Counts Egmont and Horne executed here on June 5, 1568. In 1576 Brussels joined the Dutch uprising, but was recaptured by Spanish troops in 1585 after a long siege. The Dutch War of Independence severely damaged Brussels’s economy. Because of the blockade of the Scheldt harbors, cloth-making and the cloth trade lost their importance. The conversion to the production of glass and faience goods as well as Brussels lace was slow. In the wars of the French king Louis XIV. against Spain the city was badly hit. In 1695 almost the entire medieval old town burned down after a bombardment. Under the Austrian government (1713–94), Brussels experienced a new upswing, mainly because of the network of roads being developed with Brussels as the center. Trading companies and banks took their seat in the city (1778 opening of the stock exchange).
In the course of the French Revolutionary Wars, Brussels came under French rule in 1795; it was the capital of the Dyle department. Since 1815 it has belonged to the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with The Hague’s second capital. In 1830 Brussels started the revolution that led to the formation of the Kingdom of Belgium, of which Brussels became the capital. The economic upswing that began in the middle of the 19th century, mainly through the emergence of industrial companies, was promoted by the Belgian rail network, which was geared towards the capital. In both world wars the city was occupied by German troops. During the Second World War it suffered severe damage from air raids. After 1945, Brussels was one of the points of contention in the Flemish-Walloon language dispute.
At least 32 people were killed on March 22, 2016, and over 300 people were injured, some seriously. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks.