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Brussels / Belgium

Brussels or [bʁyksɛl]; Dutch: Brussel [ˈbrʏsəl] ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region , is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. Brussels is the most densely populated and the richest region in Belgium in terms of GDP per capita. It covers 162 km2 , a relatively small area compared to the two other regions, and has a population of over 1.2 million. The five times larger metropolitan area of Brussels comprises over 2.5 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.Brussels grew from a small rural settlement on the river Senne to become an important city-region in Europe. Since the end of the Second World War, it has been a major centre for international politics and home to numerous international organisations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants. Brussels is the de facto capital of the European Union, as it hosts a number of principal EU institutions, including its administrative-legislative, executive-political, and legislative branches . Its name is sometimes used metonymically to describe the EU and its institutions. The secretariat of the Benelux and headquarters of NATO are also located in Brussels. As the economic capital of Belgium and one of the top financial centres of Western Europe with Euronext Brussels, it is classified as an Alpha global city. Brussels is a hub for rail, road and air traffic, sometimes earning the moniker "Crossroads of Europe". The Brussels metro is the only rapid transit system in Belgium. In addition, both its airport and railway stations are the largest and busiest in the country.Historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels saw a language shift to French from the late 19th century. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual in French and Dutch, even though French is now the lingua franca with over 90% of the inhabitants being able to speak it. Brussels is also increasingly becoming multilingual. English is spoken as a second language by nearly a third of the population and many migrants and expatriates speak other languages as well.Brussels is known for its cuisine and gastronomy, as well as its historical and architectural landmarks; some of them are registered as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Main attractions include its historic Grand Place, Manneken Pis, Atomium, and cultural institutions such as La Monnaie/De Munt and the Museums of Art and History. Due to its long tradition of Belgian comics, Brussels is also hailed as a capital of the comic strip.

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

Brussels / Belgium

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium are a group of art museums in Brussels, Belgium. The Royal Museums contains over 20,000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings, which date from the early 15th century to the present.

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

Brussels / Belgium

The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is a medieval Roman Catholic church in central Brussels, Belgium. It is consecrated to St. Michael and St. Gudula, the patron saints of the City of Brussels, and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Brabantine Gothic architecture. The church's construction began in the 11th century and was largely complete by the 16th, though its interior was frequently modified in the following centuries. The church was given cathedral status in 1962 and has since been the co-cathedral of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, together with St. Rumbold's Cathedral in Mechelen. Since the mid-20th century, following the construction of the North–South connection, it has been located on the Parvis Sainte-Gudule/Sinter-Goedelevoorplein, east of Boulevard de l'Impératrice/Keizerinlaan. This site is served by Brussels Central Station.

Royal Library of Belgium

Brussels / Belgium

The Royal Library of Belgium is the national library of Belgium. The library has a history that goes back to the age of the Dukes of Burgundy. In the second half of the 20th century, a new building was constructed on the Mont des Arts in central Brussels, near the Central Station. The library owns several collections of historical importance, like the famous Fétis archives, and is the depository for all books ever published in Belgium or abroad by Belgian authors. There are four million bound volumes in the Royal Library, including a rare book collection numbering 45,000 works. The library has more than 700,000 engravings and drawings, 150,000 maps and plans, and more than 250,000 objects, from coins to scales to monetary weights. This coin collection holds one of the most valuable coins in the field of numismatics, a fifth-century Sicilian tetradrachm. The library also houses the Center for American Studies, a rich American Studies collection of 30,000 books in open stacks, as well as U.S. newspapers and databases.The Royal Library is open for reference only. Patrons must be at least eighteen years of age and must pay an annual membership fee.

Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels

Brussels / Belgium

The Centre for Fine Arts is a cultural venue in Brussels, Belgium. Often referred to as BOZAR in French or PSK in Dutch, the building was completed in 1929 at the instigation of Henry Le Bœuf and includes exhibition and conference rooms, a cinema and a concert hall, which serves as home to the National Orchestra of Belgium.

Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History

Brussels / Belgium

The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History is a military museum that occupies the two northernmost halls of the historic complex in Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels, Belgium. The park is set on the continuation of Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, which starts at the end of Brussels' Park before the Royal Palace.

Senate (Belgium)

Brussels / Belgium

The Senate is one of the two chambers of the bicameral Federal Parliament of Belgium, the other being the House of Representatives. It is considered to be the "upper house" of the Federal Parliament. Created in 1831 as a chamber fully equal to the Chamber of Representatives, it has undergone several reforms in the past, most notably in 1993 and 2014. The 2014 elections were the first without a direct election of senators. Instead, the new Senate is composed of members of community and regional parliaments and co-opted members. It is a chamber of the communities and regions and serves as a platform for discussion and reflection about matters between these federated entities. The Senate today plays a minor role in the federal legislative process. However, the Senate, together with the Chamber, has full competence for the Constitution and legislation on the organization and functioning of the Federal State and the federated entities. Since the reform of 2014, it holds about ten plenary sessions a year.