Published: March 201048 HOURS
Brussels Destination Guide
Photo: Brussels, Belgium
The Grand Palace anchors the town square in Brussels.
Photo by Leslie Banks/

Brussels is as textured as the tapestries that put it on the medieval map. Never culturally isolated, this historic trade center in the heart of tiny Belgium now serves as the seat of the European Union and continues its age-old tendency to define itself by its global influences. Speaking two official languages—Flemish and French—with nearly one third of the population foreign born, it might be a metaphor for Europe itself. As other more staid capitals have lost their luster, this one continues to thrive. Creativity and invention explain it. Brussels has had so much innovation: surrealism, art nouveau, the comic strip, the haute couture of Olivier Strelli, beer, chocolate, waffles, and—naturellement—the Belgian fry.

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