International > The picture of the week > Tourist attractions in Belgium
Picture of the week (No.32): Tourist attractions in Belgium. Share
Each week (actually currently 1 or 2 times a month), Willgoto selects here a nice picture. The tourist attractions of Belgium and, among others, the Atomium in Brussels are the theme of the thirty-second picture of this series. The Atomium is indeed a remarkable building which, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, has become the emblem of the city.
The Atomium in Brussels, Belgium
The country. Located between, on the one hand, the north of France and, on the other hand, the Netherlands and the north of Germany, Belgium is best known for being home to the main institutions of the European Union. Belgium is divided into three regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south and the Brussels Capital region relatively to the center. The country's three official languages are Dutch (the language of Flanders and a minority of people in Brussels), French (the language of Wallonia and most of the inhabitants of Brussels) and German (the language of the eastern cantons).
Holidays in Belgium. Tourism in Belgium offers a wide variety of opportunities. Throughout the year, visits are made to the Belgian cities and especially to Bruges in Flanders and Brussels. The historic center of Bruges and the Grand Place of Brussels as well as 11 other Belgian sites are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Bruges, the "Venice of the North", is famous for its civil and religious heritage (Rozenhoedkaai, Church of Our Lady, Saint Savior's Cathedral, Almshouses, and more), its neo-Gothic architecture, its belfry, its beguinage, its canals which cross the old town in a picturesque setting, its cultural events like the procession of the Holy Blood, and the paintings of the Flemish Primitives (Jan Van Eyck, Hans Memling, and others) in its museums.
Travelers flock to Brussels to admire the Grand Place, one of the most beautiful in the world. The Grand Place is located in the historic center of the city and is bordered by the Town Hall, the "King's House" and the Guildhalls. Every two years, during the weekend of August 15th, the Grand-Place of Brussels is covered with a carpet of begonias flowers.
In the immediate vicinity of the Grand Place are the splendid Saint-Hubert Royal Galleries (a complex of 3 shopping arcades dating from the mid-nineteenth century), the Ilot Sacré (a district of the old town currently occupied by restaurants, estaminets, and the Theater de Toone puppets), the magnificent Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Gothic style, and the Manneken-Pis, a bronze statue of a little boy urinating and a major element of Brussels folklore.
Brussels has several interesting museums, including the Magritte Museum, the Museum of Musical Instruments, or the Museum of Natural Sciences which is famous for its Dinosaur Gallery. Comic strip lovers never fail to visit the remarkable Belgian Comic Center located a short distance from the city center and, if the opportunity arises, the Hergé Museum - the creator of Tintin - which is located in Louvain-la-Neuve, about 40 kilometers south of Brussels. As for Ph. Geluck's Cat Museum, it is expected to open in 2023 in Brussels near the Magritte Museum.
Brussels is also home to magnificent Art Nouveau buildings. The Museum of Musical Instruments and the Belgian Comic Centre, already mentioned above, are very fine examples of them.
In the northern districts of Brussels, the major tourist attraction is the Atomium. It is a 102 m high steel construction composed of 9 spheres interconnected by 20 tubes and resting on 3 pillars. The Atomium was the main attraction of the 1958 World Fair in Brussels. Representing the nine constituent atoms of the elemental iron crystal magnified 165 billion times, it symbolizes the peaceful use of scientific progress. In 1958, it was the 6th tallest metal structure built in the world and it had the fastest elevator in Europe. It is the work of Belgian engineer André Waterkeyn.
Unlike the initial project, the Atomium was maintained after the World Expo because of its originality and interest. Having been long neglected, it was renovated in the early 2000s. Since then, it has become a major attraction of Brussels and the whole country. It recently on all television channels in the world on the occasion of the departure of the Tour de France 2019 in Brussels, a world-famous biking competition.
Apart from city trips, holidays in Belgium consist mainly of stays on the Belgian Coast or in the Ardennes.
The Belgian Coast is the Belgian tourist zone which stretches over 60 km on the North Sea coast. It consists of a series of seaside resorts ranging from Knokke in the east to De Panne in the west and including, among others, Blankenberge, Ostend, Middelkerke and Koksijde. Such a series of seaside resorts located on the seafront and equipped with all the useful tourist infrastructure (including the full range of housing options) clearly distinguishes the Belgian coast from the neighboring coasts: those of the departments of the North and Pas-de-Calais in France and those of Zealand in the Netherlands.
In addition to relaxing on the beaches and various seaside activities, you can practice walking, biking, horseback riding, boating and other sports such as golf or discover the natural attractions (for instance the Zwin nature reserve). A cuistax (a kind of non-motorized go-kart) ride is a classic for children.
Wallonia offers a very different kind of tourism. The Belgian Ardennes with its forests, nature reserves, rivers and rough terrain is the main holiday destination in Wallonia. It offers peaceful holidays in wooded areas and/or on the shores of lakes (e.g. the Eau d'Heure lakes or Bütgenbach Lake) or rivers (Meuse, Ourthe, Lesse, Semois, ...). Durbuy ("the smallest city in the world"), La Roche ("the pearl of the Ardennes") or Dinant (hometown of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone) are just a few examples of these holiday destinations.
Walks and hikes, activities such as kayaking, fishing or small river cruises, visiting local attractions (e.g. Han Caves or Coo Waterfall), discovering regional heritage or simply resting in an ideal environment are the main leisure activities. Both cyclists and mountain bikers find here many courses that suit them.
The Ravel is a network of more than 1,430 km of paths reserved mainly for pedestrians and cyclists in Wallonia. Some of these paths are part of international routes such as the Eurovelo 19. The Vennbahn, which runs from Aachen in Germany to Troisvierges in Luxembourg crossing the east of Belgium (122 km) is one of those courses particularly appreciated by amateurs.
Wallonia has several other major destinations, some of which are known all over the world: for example, Bastogne, famous for the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944-45, and the related memory tourism, the popular theme park Walibi, the historic site of the famous Battle of Waterloo (defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815), the nice zoo and botanical garden Pairi Daiza whose fame has increased with the presence of pandas, the High Fens nature reserves, or seasonal activities such as hunting or, weather permitting, skiing.
Transport. Belgium has very dense road and rail networks. International means of transport by road, rail, sea and air are also very numerous. For passengers, the two in airports in Belgium are the international "Bruxelles-National" Airport located 15 km from the capital city and Brussels-South Charleroi Airport located in Wallonia about 60 km from Brussels and hosting mainly flights from low cost airlines. As for freight, Liège Airport is the most active.
The Thalys high-speed train provides rapid rail service, especially between Brussels and neighboring countries, including Paris, Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy and Marseille in France, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, or Cologne and Düsseldorf in Germany. Eurostar operates high-speed railway service between London and Brussels.
The ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge are among the busiest harbors in Europe, Antwerp being the second largest port of the continent.
The author of the pictures. The above pictures belong to Willgoto.
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Picture of the week 2: Pagoda of the Golden Rock in Myanmar. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.
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Picture of the week 4: Lemur of Madagascar (Coquerel's sifaka), an endangered species of primates, which, like all other species of lemurs, is endemic to Madagascar.
Picture of the week 5: World heritage in Cambodia. The temple of Banteay Srei, better known as 'Citadel of the women', in Cambodia is a jewel of Khmer art and a world heritage site.
Picture of the week 6: Bull shark and tiger shark. Both sharks are unfortunately known for fatal attacks on humans. However, experienced divers can approach them and swim with them.
Picture of the week 7: Firewalking in Mauritius. Walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers is an ancestral religious practice.
And many more pictures of the week including:
Picture of the week 24: Tulum, the Pearl of the Mayan Riviera, Tulum is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the Riviera Maya in Mexico.
Picture of the week 25: The tourist attractions of Aachen. The Aachen Cathedral is one of the first sites that have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
Picture of the week 26: Beaches in Cape Verde. Cape Verde is a popular holiday destination throughout the twelve months of the year.
Picture of the week 27: Outdoor activities in Reunion Island, France. Reunion island is indeed an ideal destination for leisure and outdoor activities.
Picture of the week 28: Beach of Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a dream destination for sunny beach holidays particularly after a long safari in East Africa.
Picture of the week 29: Fauna of Costa Rica. Costa Rica is an ideal destination for all enthusiasts of wildlife.
Picture of the week 30: The red crab of Christmas Island (Australia). The annual migration of Christmas Island red crabs is the main tourist attraction of the island.
Picture of the week 31: Cultural attractions of Bangkok (Thailand). Wat Pho - the Temple of the Reclining Buddha - is one of the most popular cultural attractions of the Thai capital.
See all our "Pictures of the week".