Infobox Settlement
name = Brussels
native_name = "Bruxelles" fr icon
"Brussel" nl icon
official_name = Brussels Capital-Region
nickname = Capital of Europe, Comic city [cite web |last=City Data |authorlink=City Data |title=Brussels |url= |accessdate=2008-01-10]

imagesize = 250px
image_caption = View of the old city centre from Kunstberg/Mont des Arts

flag_size = 125px
flag_link = Flag of the Brussels Capital-Region

mapsize = 250px
map_caption = map_caption |location_color=dark brown |region=the European Union |region_color=light brown |subregion=Belgium |subregion_color=brown |

subdivision_type = Sovereign state
subdivision_name = Belgium
subdivision_type1 =
subdivision_name1 =
subdivision_type2 =
subdivision_name2 =
subdivision_type3 =
subdivision_name3 =
seat_type =
seat =
parts_type = Municipalities
parts_style = coll
p1 = Anderlecht
p2 = Auderghem
p3 = Sint-Agatha-Berchem
p4 = City of Brussels
p5 = Etterbeek
p6 = Evere
p7 = Forest
p8 = Ganshoren
p9 = Ixelles
p10 = Jette
p11 = Koekelberg
p12 = Sint-Jans-Molenbeek
p13 = Saint-Gilles
p14 = Saint-Josse-ten-Noode
p15 = Schaerbeek
p16 = Uccle
p17 = Watermael-Boitsfort
p18 = Woluwe-Saint-Lambert
p19 = Woluwe-Saint-Pierre
leader_title = Minister-President
leader_name = Charles Picqué
leader_title1 = Governor
leader_name1 = Véronique Paulus de Châtelet
leader_title2 = Parl. President
leader_name2 = Eric Tomas
established_title = Settled
established_date = c.580
established_title1 = Founded
established_date1 = 979
established_title2 = Region
established_date2 = 18 June 1989
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 161.4
area_total_sq_mi = 62.2
total_type = Region
population_as_of = 1 January 2007
population_total = 1,031,215
population_density_km2 = 6,389
population_density_sq_mi = 3,970
population_metro = 1,350,000
population_urban =
population_blank1_title =
population_blank1 =
population_footnotes = cite web |title=Belgium - Three large urban agglomerations |url= |publisher=The [Belgian] Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation |accessdate=June 12 |accessyear=2008]
timezone = CET
utc_offset = +1
timezone_DST = CEST
utc_offset_DST = +2
latd=50 |latm=50 |lats=48 |latNS=N
longd=4 |longm=21 |longs=9 |longEW=E
elevation_m = 13
elevation_ft = 43
elevation_footnotes =
postal_code_type =
postal_code = BE-BRU
website = []
footnotes =

Brussels ( _fr. Bruxelles, pronounced Audio-IPA|Fr-Bruxelles.ogg| [bʁysɛl] ; _nl. Brussel, pronounced Audio-IPA|Nl-Brussel.ogg| [ˈbrɵsəɫ] ) , officially the Brussels Capital-Region, is the de facto capital city of the European Union (EU) and the largest urban area in Belgium.It is the "de facto" city as it hosts all major political institutions - though Parliament formally votes in Strasbourg, most political work is carried out in Brussels - and as such is considered the capital by definition. However it should be noted that it is not formally declared in that language, though its position is spelled out in the Treaty of Amsterdam. See section on this issue.] It should not be confused with the much smaller City of Brussels (founded circa 580) within it, which is the capital of Belgium (and Flanders) by law. [ [ Welcome to Brussels ] ]

Brussels has grown from a 10th-century fortress town founded by Charlemagne's grandson into a metropolis of more than one million inhabitants. [ - History of Brussels] ] After the end of World War II, Brussels has been an important centre for international politics. It hosts the main institutions of the European Union, and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Thus, Brussels is the polyglot home of many international organisations, diplomats and civil servants. [ BBC NEWS | Europe | Country profiles | Country profile: Belgium] ] Brussels is the EU's third-richest city in terms of per capita income. [ [] ]

Although historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels has become increasingly francophone. Today most inhabitants are native French-speakers, although both languages have official status. [ [ BBC NEWS | Europe | Analysis: Where now for Belgium?] ] This process has led to a longstanding conflict between the French and Dutch speaking community, reflecting the situation in Belgium at large. Brussels is the capital of Flanders and of the French Community of Belgium.


The name Brussels derives from the Old Dutch "Bruocsella", which means marsh ("bruoc") and home ("sella") or "home in the marsh".Fact|date=September 2008


Middle Ages

The origin of the settlement that was to become Brussels lies in Saint Gaugericus' construction of a chapel on an island in the river Senne around 580. [ [ Brussels History ] ]

The official founding of Brussels is usually situated around 979, because Duke Charles transferred the relics of Saint Gudula from Moorsel to the Saint Gaugericus chapel in Brussels, located on what would be called Saint Gaugericus Island. The Holy Roman Emperor Otto II gave the duchy of Lower Lotharingia to Charles, the banished son of King Louis IV of France in 977, who would construct the first permanent fortification in the city, doing so on that same island.

The county of Brussels was attributed to Lambert I of Leuven, count of Leuven around 1000. In 1047, his son Lambert II, Count of Leuven founded the Saint Gudula chapter.

Because of its location on the shores of the Senne on an important trade route between Bruges and Ghent, and Cologne, Brussels grew quite quickly; it became a commercial centre that rapidly extended towards the upper town (St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral, Coudenberg, Zavel area...), where there was a smaller risk of floods. As it grew to a population of around 30,000, the surrounding marshes were drained to allow for further expansion. The Counts of Leuven became Dukes of Brabant at about this time (1183/1184). In the 11th century, the city got its first walls. [nl [ Zo ontstond Brussel] Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie - Commission of the Flemish Community in Brussels]

After the construction of the first walls of Brussels in the early 13th century, Brussels grew significantly. In order to let the city expand, a second set of walls was erected between 1356 and 1383. Today, traces of it can still be seen, mostly because the "small ring", a series of roadways in downtown Brussels bounding the historic city centre, follows its former course.

In the 15th century, by means of the wedding of heiress Margaret III of Flanders with Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, a new Duke of Brabant emerged from the House of Valois (namely Antoine, their son), with another line of descent from the Habsburgs (Maximilian of Austria, later Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, married Mary of Burgundy, who was born in Brussels).

Brabant had lost its independence, but Brussels became the Princely Capital of the prosperous Low Countries, and flourished.


Charles V, heir of the Low Countries since 1506, though (as he was only 6 years old) governed by his aunt Margaret of Austria until 1515, was declared King of Spain, in 1516, in the Cathedral of Saint Gudule in Brussels.

Upon the death of his grandfather, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, Charles V became the new archduke of the Austrian Empire and thus the Holy Roman Emperor of the Empire "on which the sun does not set". It was in the Palace complex at Coudenberg that Charles V abdicated in 1555. This impressive palace, famous all over Europe, had greatly expanded since it had first become the seat of the Dukes of Brabant, but it was destroyed by fire in 1731. All that remains is an archaeological site.

In 1695, French troops sent by King Louis XIV bombarded Brussels with artillery. Together with the resulting fire, it was most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels. The Grand Place was destroyed, along with 4000 buildings, a third of those in the city. The reconstruction of the city centre, effected during subsequent years, profoundly changed the appearance of the city and left numerous traces still visible today.


In 1830, the Belgian revolution took place in Brussels after a performance of Auber's opera "La Muette de Portici" at De Munt or La Monnaie theatre. On July 21, 1831, Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians, ascended the throne, undertaking the destruction of the city walls and the construction of many buildings. Following independence, the city underwent many more changes. The Senne had become a serious health hazard, and from 1867 to 1871 its entire urban area was completely covered over. This allowed urban renewal and the construction of modern buildings and boulevards which are characteristic of downtown Brussels today.

Modern history

The city has hosted various fairs and conferences, including the fifth Solvay Conference in 1927 and two world fairs: the Brussels International Exposition (1935) and the Expo '58.

Beginning on May 10, 1940, Brussels was bombed by the German army; however, most of the war damage to the city took place in 1944–1945. The North-South Junction was built, completed in 1952. The first Brussels premetro was finished in 1969, and the first line of the Brussels Metro was opened in 1976. The Heysel Stadium disaster took place in Brussels on May 29, 1985. The Brussels Capital Region was founded on June 18, 1989 after a constitutional reform in 1970. [Belgian Constitution, Article 3: "Belgium is made up of three regions: The Flemish region, the Walloon region and the Brussels region."] [ [ Brussels Capital-region / Creation] ]



Brussels' proximity to coastal areas influences the area's climate by sending marine air masses from the Atlantic Ocean. Nearby wetlands also ensure a maritime temperate climate. On average (based on measurements the last 100 years), there are approximately 200 days of rain per year in the Brussels Capital-Region. [ [ Site de l'institut météorologique belge] ]


The Brussels Capital-Region is one of the three regions of Belgium, while the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community do exercise, each for their part, their cultural competencies on the territory of the region. French and Dutch are the official languages; most public services are bilingual (exceptions being education and a couple of others). The Capital Region is predominantly French-speaking - about 85-90% [fr icon [ Personal website "Lexilogos" located in the Provence, on European Languages (English, French, German, Dutch, and so on) - French-speakers in Brussels are estimated at about 90% (estimation, not an 'official' number because there are no linguistic census in Belgium)] ] [fr icon [ "Langues majoritaires, langues minoritaires, dialectes et NTIC" by Simon Petermann, Professor at the University of Liège, Wallonia, Belgium] ] Flemish Academic E. Corijn, at a Colloquium regarding Brussels, on 5 December 2001, states that in Brussels there is 91% of the population speaking French at home, either alone or with another language, and there is about 20% speaking Dutch at home, either alone (9%) or with French (11%) - After ponderation, the repartition can be estimated at between 85 and 90% French-speaking, and the remaining are Dutch-speaking, corresponding to the estimations based on languages chosen in Brussels by citizens for their official documents (ID, driving licenses, weddings, birth, death, and so on) ; all these statistics on language are also available at Belgian Department of Justice (for weddings, birth, death), Department of Transport (for Driving licenses), Department of Interior (for IDs), because there are no means to know "precisely" the proportions since Belgium has abolished 'official' linguistic censuses, thus official documents on language choices can only be estimations.] of the population are French-speakers (including migrants), and about 10-15% [fr icon [ Personal website "Lexilogos" located in the Provence, on European Languages (English, French, German, Dutch, and so on) - Dutch-speakers in Brussels are estimated at about 10% (estimation, not an 'official' number because there are no linguistic census in Belgium)] ] are Dutch-speakers. In January 2006, of its registered inhabitants, 73.1% are Belgian nationals, 4.1% French nationals, 12.0% other EU nationals (usually expressing themselves in either French or English), 4.0% Moroccan nationals, and 6.8% other non-EU nationals.fr_icon [ IS 2007 - Population (Tableaux)] ]


Because of how the federalisation was handled in Belgium, but also because of the fact that the municipalities in the region did not take part in the merger that affected municipalities in the rest of Belgium in the seventies, the public institutions in Brussels offer a bewildering complexity. The complexity is more apparent in the lawbooks than in the facts, since the members of the Brussels Parliament and Government also act in other capacities, e.g. as members of the council of the Brussels agglomeration or the community commissions.One distinguishes:


The region, with a regional parliament of 89 members (72 French-speaking, 17 Dutch-speaking, parties are organised on a linguistic basis), plus a regional government, consisting of an officially linguistically neutral, but in practice French-speaking minister-president, two French-speaking and two Dutch-speaking ministers, one Dutch-speaking secretary of state and two French-speaking secretaries of state. This parliament can enact ordinances (Dutch: "ordonnanties", French: "ordonnances"), which have equal status as a national legislative act.

* The agglomeration, with a council and a board, with the same membership as the organs of the Brussels Region. This is a decentralised administrative public body, assuming competences which elsewhere in Belgium are exercised by municipalities or provinces (fire brigade, waste disposal). The by-laws enacted by it do not have the status of a legislative act.

* A bi-communitarian public authority, Common Community Commission (Dutch: "Gemeenschappelijke Gemeenschapscommissie, GGC", French: "Commission communautaire commune, COCOM"), with a United Assembly (i.e. the members of the regional parliament) and a United Board (the ministers - not the secretaries of state - of the region, with the minister-president not having the right to vote). This Commission has two capacities: it is a decentralised administrative public body, responsible for implementing cultural policies of common interest. It can give subsidies and enact by-laws. In another capacity it can also enact ordinances, which have equal status as a national legislative act, in the field of the welfare competencies of the communities: in the Brussels Capital-Region, both the French Community and the Flemish Community can exercise competencies in the field of welfare, but only in regard to institutions that are unilingual (e.g. a private French-speaking retirement home or the Dutch-speaking hospital of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel). The Common Community Commission is competent for policies aiming directly at private persons or at bilingual institutions (e.g. the centra for social welfare of the 19 municipalities). Its ordinances have to be enacted with a majority in both linguistic groups. Failing such a majority, a new vote can be held, where a majority of at least one third in each linguistic group is sufficient.

* The Brussels Region is not a province, nor does it belong to one. Within the Region, 99% of the provincial competencies are assumed by the Brussels regional institutions. Remaining is only the governor of Brussels-Capital and some aides.

* 6 inter-municipal policing zones

* intercommunal societies created freely by the municipalities

Also the federal state, the French Community and the Flemish Community exercise competencies on the territory of the region. 19 of the 72 French-speaking members of the Brussels Parliament are also members of the Parliament of the French Community of Belgium, and until 2004 this was also the case for six Dutch-speaking members, who were at the same time members of the Flemish Parliament. Now, people voting for a Flemish party have to vote separately for 6 directly elected members of the Flemish Parliament.

Due to the multiple capacities of single members of parliament, there are parliamentarians who are at the same member of the Brussels Parliament, member of the Assembly of the Common Community Commission, member of the Assembly of the French Community Commission, member of the Parliament of the French Community of Belgium and "community senator" in the Belgian Senate. At the moment, this is the case for Mr. François Roelants du Vivier (for the Mouvement Réformateur), Mrs. Amina Derbaki Sbaï (since June 2004 for the Parti Socialiste, but beforehand, since 2003, for the Mouvement Réformateur) and Mrs Sfia Bouarfa (since 2001 for the Parti Socialiste).


See also

* Brussels Regional Investment Company


External links

* [ Brussels Capital-Region] , official site
* [ Interactive map]
* [ 360º Interactive Virtual Tour of Brussels with Google Maps]

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