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What is the Difference Between Brussels, Belgium and Brussels, Brussels Capital Region?

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What is the Difference Between Brussels, Belgium and Brussels, Brussels Capital Region?

As in many countries, Belgium is divided into different areas of adminstration. It is organised into three main regions – Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia. The three entities are sometimes known as regions but are more accurately known as regions-comunautés-comunites, or “territorial collectives”. The territory of Belgium is divided into three regions: Flanders (58%), Wallonia (31%) and the Brussels-Capital Region (11%) which is composed of the City of Brussels and 19 other communes. Of these three regions, Brussels is the only one classed as a self-governing part of Belgium.Each region has its own government and parliament who manage their own finances and are responsible for all political decisions in their area. Each also has its own language and culture. The Brussels region is home to both French and Dutch, and many bilingual citizens and local businesses.Brussels is the capital of both Belgium and the Brussels-Capital Region, although technically these two entities are not the same. While the City of Brussels lies within both the Brussels-Capital Region and Belgium, the area covered by the region is much larger than the city itself. This means that while Brussels is an administrative entity of Belgium, it has its own government and parliament separate from the federal government. The most obvious difference between Brussels, Belgium, and Brussels, the Brussels Capital Region is that the first is part of the country of Belgium as a whole and surrounded by all the other regions in the country whereas the latter is an individual entity recognised as one of the three regions of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region exercises separate jurisdiction solely within its borders, while at the same time remains part of the constitutional framework of Belgium.The purpose of creating the capital region out of a city was to provide a better degree of autonomy and protection for both ethnic Dutch and French-speaking Belgians, allowing them to coexist without one side feeling slighted or disadvantaged. With its own distinct laws, education system, police departments, construction regulations and more, Brussels isn’t simply a city — it’s an autonomous region within the greater nation of Belgium. In practical terms, this means that the Brussels Capital Region can make autonomous decisions on matters such as local taxes, zoning regulations, infrastructure spending, regional economic development focuses and even healthcare policy. This is beneficial for residents of the region because it gives local communities more say in how their areas develop and how their money is spent on projects. Overall, understanding the difference between Brussels, Belgium and Brussels, Brussels-Capital Region provides valuable insight into modern Belgian politics. The national government still makes policy decisions for all of Belgium by unifying federal law across all regions, but by giving certain areas like Brussels their own autonomy — complete with their own local governments — it ensures that minority cultural and linguistic groups won’t feel disadvantaged or ignored. For more information, see Europa Nu or The Local.

An Insider’s Guide to Brussels, Belgium

Located in the heart of Belgium, Brussels is a charming city that boasts a beautiful blend of cultures, history, and architecture. As the capital of both Belgium and the European Union, the city has a rich and diverse history with a plethora of attractions, gastronomic experiences, and cultural activities to offer. From its bustling city center and famous landmarks to the hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path spots, this guide will introduce you to all that Brussels has to offer.


Brussels is famous for its monumental landmarks and tourist attractions, which are spread throughout the city. Some of the must-visit attractions include:

The Grand Place

The stunning Gothic architecture of the Grand Place, also known as the Grote Markt, is a must-see attraction in Brussels. Surrounded by guildhalls, the town hall, and the King’s House, this beautiful square is considered one of the most picturesque in Europe. In the evening, the square is illuminated, giving it a magical ambiance.


The Atomium is a unique steel structure that was built for the 1958 World Expo. The structure, which represents a molecule’s nine atoms, has an observation deck with stunning views of Brussels. It also has exhibitions about science and technology, and it’s a great place for families, children and science enthusiast to have an entertaining and educational experience.

Manneken Pis

Perhaps Brussels’ most unusual attraction is the small bronze statue of Manneken Pis, which depicts a young boy urinating into a fountain. The statue is considered to be a symbol of Brussels’ rebellious spirit. The statue has several costumes, which are changed regularly, and on special occasions, it can be dressed in traditional Belgian costumes.

Dining Spots

Belgium is renowned for its beer, chocolate, waffles, and fries, which are all must-tries when you visit Brussels. The city has many restaurants, cafes, and food markets to satisfy all tastes and cravings. Some of the most popular spots include:

Aux Armes de Bruxelles

This traditional Belgian brasserie has been serving classic Belgian dishes like moules frites (mussels and fries) and stoemp (a type of mashed potato) for over a century. It is a popular spot for both locals and tourists in the heart of Brussels.


Established in 1952, Mokafe is a charming café located near the Grand Place. It is famous for its selection of desserts, especially its delicious Belgian waffles. The café also serves excellent coffee and hot chocolate, perfect for warming up in chilly weather.

Belga Queen

Belga Queen, located in the trendy Sainte-Catherine neighborhood, is the perfect place to indulge in gourmet cuisine with an extensive selection of seafood, meats, and vegan dishes. The restaurant is housed in a stunning 18th-century bank building that features elegant décor and a lively atmosphere.

Cultural Experiences

Brussels has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its art, music, museums, and festivals. Cultural experiences include:

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium house more than 20,000 paintings, sculptures, and drawings from some of Europe’s most prominent artists. It is also home to the Magritte Museum which displays the works of renowned Belgian Surrealist painter Rene Magritte.

Art Nouveau Architecture

Brussels is famous for its Art Nouveau architecture, which can be found throughout the city. The city has several walking tours that showcase the city’s vibrant Art Nouveau buildings including the Horta Museum, which was the home and studio of Belgium’s most prominent Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta.

Music Festivals

Brussels has a vibrant music scene and is home to several music festivals throughout the year. Some of the most popular festivals include the Brussels Summer Festival, which features jazz, blues, and electronic music, and the Couleur Café Festival, which celebrates African and Caribbean music, food, and culture.

Local History

Brussels has a rich history that is intertwined with Belgium’s political and cultural developments. The city has several landmarks, museums, and monuments that showcase its significant historical events, including:

The European Parliament

The European Parliament, located in the heart of Brussels, is a symbol of European unity. Visitors can take a guided tour of the building and learn about its role in shaping the continent’s political landscape.

The Royal Palace of Brussels

The Royal Palace of Brussels is the official palace of the Belgian King and Queen. However, it is not their residence, but rather an administrative center for state affairs. Visitors can take a tour of the palace and see its stunning interiors and beautiful gardens.

The Battlefields of Waterloo

The Battlefields of Waterloo, situated on the outskirts of Brussels, is one of Belgium’s most significant historical sites. It is the place where Napoleon suffered his final defeat in 1815 by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian army. Visitors can take a guided tour and see the key battle sites, museums, and monuments.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Suggestions

For those who want to explore Brussels’s hidden gems and lesser-known attractions, here are some off-the-beaten-path suggestions:

Parc du Cinquantenaire

Parc du Cinquantenaire is a beautiful park located in the European Quarter. It is home to several museums, including the Autoworld Museum, the Royal Army and Military History Museum, and the Cinquantenaire Museum, which showcases the city’s historical and cultural heritage.

Saint Gilles

Saint Gilles is a vibrant neighborhood located southwest of the city center. It is known for its bohemian atmosphere, street art, and quirky cafes and bars. The area around the Place Van Meenen is particularly worth exploring.

Les Marolles

Les Marolles is a charming neighborhood located in the city center. It is known for its flea markets, antique shops, and quirky cafes and bars. The Place du Jeu de Balle is the heart of the area, where vendors sell vintage clothing, collectibles, and other treasures.

In conclusion, Brussels is an exciting city that has something to offer for everyone. Its vibrant culture, history, and gastronomic delights make it a must-visit destination. Whether you are looking for iconic landmarks or off-the-beaten-path attractions, the city has it all. So pack your bags, head to Brussels, and explore the wonders of this beautiful city!

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What is the Difference Between Brussels, Belgium and Brussels, Brussels Capital Region?

Experience Adventure Like Never Before: Book Your Tour Today!