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Brussels History, Belgium

Brussels history showed more and more important events as time went by, but the actual origin of this city is said to have begun around the 6th century, when Saint Gorik built a chapel near the city. The first mention of Brussels in print was in 977, when the island was still known as Saint-Gorik. And Brussels was officially born when Carl of France built a fortress there in 979.

Brussels History – The 11th - 16th Century

Within the 11th century, a new fortress was built in Brussels and the very first city walls were built, as well. Brussels history took a turn in the 13th century, when a big revolution took place between the rich Citizens and the Guilds. The Citizens won and with Duchess Joan holding power over the city, Brussels grew and developed very well until the 14th century. After this, an economic recession went on for fifty years. However, Brussels was strong enough to live through it and even began to manufacture and sell top luxury goods. By the 15th century, the Hapsburgians held power over the city. Around the 16th century, the official representative of Philip II named Duke of Alva took rule over Brussels and a revolution was started against his merciless hand by William of Orange. The Duke of Alva was successfully chased away, but eight years later, he returned for his revenge and Brussels history and the economy suffered again.

Brussels History – The 17th – 19th Century

Louis XIV, King of France, attacked Brussels in 1695 and thousands of houses, including the Grand Palace, were destroyed. By the 18th century, Austrian emperors had taken over the city and, although the citizens fought back, they lost and surrendered. The very last foreign emperor to rule over Brussels was William I of the Netherlands. He left in 1830 and Brussels struggled hard to maintain independence within their city. In 1831, Belgian king Leopold I took over the throne and Brussels was coined the capital of the new kingdom of Belgium. People started rebuilding what was lost and bigger and better buildings were built. The city walls were eradicated and the overall city was increased with more than just buildings. International congresses started to take place, scientific organizations started up, and a lot of foreign philosophers, artists and scientists found refuge in Brussels, such as Proudhon, Karl Marx and Victor Hugo.

Brussels History – The World Wars

Both World Wars could not stop Brussels from developing further, in any way. In fact, Brussel's architectural prowess could almost be compared to that of Amsterdam. Belgium was separated into two regions after the Second World War: the Walloon Provinces and Flanders, but Brussels has its own individual government. It even became the capital of the European Union, in which Luxembourg also played a big part. NATO built its headquarters within the famed city.

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  • danpopOne-day trip in Brussels
    review by danpop posted more then 30 days ago
    Maybe the first thing I want to point out from the beginning is that Bruxelles is not a one day city to visit. In my opinion, 2 or 3 days is minimum to see what’s more important in this splendid capital. But let’s say you don’t have much of a choice, and you have to limit...
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Read our members' travel tips about Brussels


  • danpopThéâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels
    travel tip by danpop posted more then 30 days ago
    Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (Royal Theatre of the Mint) is a theatre in Bruxelles and today is also the National Opera of Belgium. The theater is located in the historic heart of Bruxelles, close to Grand Place. The De Brouckère...
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Brussels City Ratings

  • Rating88%
    City Rank93
     
  • History & Culture: rated for 90%
  • Night Life & Entertainment: rated for 90%
  • Family & Fun: rated for 80%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 80%
  • Food: rated for 100%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 80%
  • Shopping: rated for 100%
  • Public Transportation: rated for 90%
  • Must visit this place: rated for 90%
  
 

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Recent Brussels flights found by Travelgrove users

  • $548Multiple Airlines flight Multiple Airlines 
    FromToDepartureTime
    Toronto, ON (YYZ)Brussels, BE (BRU)10/21/201410:25 pm
    Brussels, BE (BRU)Toronto, ON (YYZ)11/04/201409:50 am
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  • $704Thy Turkish Airlines flight Thy Turkish Airlines 
    FromToDepartureTime
    New York, NY (JFK)Brussels, BE (BRU)01/26/201501:15 pm
    Brussels, BE (BRU)New York, NY (JFK)05/22/201511:15 am
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  • $825Aeroflot flight Aeroflot 
    FromToDepartureTime
    Washington DC, DC (IAD)Brussels, BE (BRU)01/26/201502:05 pm
    Brussels, BE (BRU)Washington DC, DC (IAD)05/22/201512:00 pm
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