Belgium has navigated a complex historical journey. In the 17th century, the region was part of the Spanish Netherlands, and later the Austrian Netherlands, before becoming French during the Napoleonic era. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 united Belgium with the Netherlands, but discontent and the 1830 Belgian Revolution led to the establishment of an independent Belgian state. The country then developed into an industrial and colonial power during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Belgium became a neutral ground for major conflicts, including both World Wars, experiencing occupation and reconstruction. Post-war, Belgium played a pivotal role in the formation of the European Union, hosting its headquarters in Brussels. The latter half of the 20th century witnessed increased autonomy for linguistic regions, particularly Flanders and Wallonia, as the country continues to grapple with linguistic and regional complexities.
Backed by steep cliffs, Dinant is a city of 14,000 inhabitants near the French border along the Meuse River. Dinant is the birthplace of saxophone inventor Adolphe Sax and the city's speciality are couques, biscuits sweetened with honey, which has been providing a steady income to the Dinant dentists for decades.
Ghent unfolds its rich history through a tapestry of medieval architecture and charming canals. As one of Belgium's oldest cities, Ghent boasts a skyline adorned with well-preserved medieval structures, including the imposing Gravensteen Castle and the iconic Belfry of Ghent.
Known as the administrative capital of Europe, Brussels is chocolate and waffles heaven. The waffles are bigger than they look, I couldn't finish mine. Most of the historical stuff is in and around the medieval Grand Place. Oddly, one of the most popular attractions is Mannekin Pis, a tiny unremarkable statue of a little boy pissing. It was actually never meant to be a tourist attraction, but a lot of visitors flock to it expecting eons of history behind when there is none. Or maybe it's that the waffles are best enjoyed while contemplating a little boy pissing. Best to confirm that with the locals.