Brussels, Belgium, Europe
Location: Europe, central Belgium, around the river Senne
Motto: "L'Union fait la force–Eendracht maakt macht." (Unity is powerful.)
Flag: Yellow marsh iris on a field of blue.
Flower: Yellow (or golden) marsh iris (Iris pseudocorus)
Time Zone: 1 PM = noon GMT
Ethnic Composition: 55% Flemish (Dutch), 33% French (Walloons), 12% Germans and others
Elevation: Sea level
Latitude and Longitude: 50° 50′ N, 4° 00′ E
Climate: Moderate temperatures year-round with little snow in the winters, predictable rainfall and mild summers
Annual Mean Temperature: 10° C (50° F), ranging from 3° C (37° F) in January to 18° C (64° F) in July.
Average Annual Precipitation: 70 cm (28 in)
Government: Mayor, congress, and district representatives under a constitutional monarchy
Weights and Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: Belgian franc (BFr)
Telephone Area Codes: 02
Postal Codes: B-1000, B-1020
Getting to Brussels is fairly easy due to the advanced state of the city's transportation systems and city planning. Access to the Brussels Capital Region, the Grand Place center of town, and the many museums and shops in the Sablon district is provided by numerous routes that are vital to commerce and tourism.
The total area of Brussels highway system covers 430 kilometers (267 miles) of paved roads. Brussels Ring Road leads to Brussels International Airport, surrounding the Inner Brussels Ring Road which links to the three major train stations. From Brussels, the E40 leads east to Liège and Köln, and west to London. The E19 takes vehicles north to Antwerp and Amsterdam, south to Mons and Paris, while the E411 goes south to Namur and Luxembourg. Brussels roads are known for their foggy conditions, resulting from their proximity to the English Channel and North Sea.
There are three main train stations that carry passengers into the city, the North, Central, and Midi (South) stations. The southern station receives the Thalys train from Paris and the Eurostar from London. Belgian Railways (SNCB/NMBS) services trains to and from Brugge, Ghent, Antwerp, Liège, Amsterdam, and Cologne, among other cities. Charter buses and coaches from tour operators also carry passengers into Brussels, such as "De Lijn" buses and "TEC." An airport express runs to and from Antwerp every hour.
Brussels National Airport is actually located in Zaventem, a close suburb of Brussels. Belgavia and Sabena are the main flight operators, but Air Canada, British Airways, Delta, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Finnair, Quantas, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, and Varig also fly into Brussels.
Trains, buses, and the Metro can all be accessed with one ticket at 55 BFr for one hour. The city also provides day cards, ten-drive or five-drive tickets at a reasonable price. The metro is considered very safe and efficient with 58 stations. Five-hundred buses traverse the city, as do 15 tramlines.
In order to get a taxi, tourists must go to a taxi stand instead of attempting to flag one down. Taxis come in all different colors and brands, but a lighted sign on top says "Brussels Gewest-Taxi-Région de Bruxelles," and there should be a yellow and blue license emblem. A taxi from the airport to the city center is 1,000 BFr (about $30).
The Tourist Information Office is located in the right wing of Town Hall, a fifteenth-century structure which towers over the Grand Place town square. Many tours and excursions depart nearby, including De Boeck tours, which have a combined walking/luxury coach tour of the capital.
The Brussels Fire Brigade employs 925 professional firemen, serving in more than nine fire stations. A fleet of 150 units is available to help with road accidents, and there are at least 40 ambulances, five with intensive care surgeons. The emergency number is 100; the police can be reached at 101. Each year the city responds to more than 30,000 calls.
Brussels holds an annual 20-kilo-meter (12-mile) half-marathon every year on the streets of the city. The most popular sports are bicycling and soccer (also called football, but very different from American football). The Red Devils are Belgium's national soccer team, run by the Royal Belgium Football Association.
Brussels Online. [Online] Available http://www.brussels-online.be/ (accessed December 20, 1999).
City of Brussels. [Online] Available http://www.brussels.be/ (accessed December 20, 1999).
Irisnet. [Online] Available http://bruxelles.irisnet.be/index.html (accessed December 20, 1999).
Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes 61
Centre Administratif (CA)
6 Boulevard Anspach
Ville de Bruxelles
City Hall (Hôtel de Ville, HV)
Mayor—Mr. François-Xavier de Donnea
Blvd. Du Centenaire
Brussels Exhibition Center
Place de Belgique
Tourist Office (Tourist Information Brussels)
Hôtel de Ville
La Libre Belgique. [Online] Available http://www.lalibrebelgique.com (accessed December 20, 1999).
Deprez, Kas and Louis Vos, eds. Nationalism in Belgium: Shifting Identities, 1780–1995. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Ephrem et. al. Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium: A Guide to the Collections of Ancient Art and Modern Art. Brussels: Alice Editions, 1996.
Roberts-Jones, Philippe, ed. Brussels: Fin de Siècle. Köln: Taschen, 1999.
Swimberghe, Piet and Jan Verlinde, eds. Brussels: The Art of Living. New York, NY: Stewart, Tabor and Chang, 1998.