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Belgium Travel Guide

Overview and History of Belgium

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Belgium is a small country located in Western Europe with a rich and fascinating history. From its earliest beginnings as a Roman province to its modern-day status as a European hub, Belgium has played a significant role in shaping the continent. In this overview and history of Belgium, we'll take a closer look at some of the key events and developments that have shaped this unique and fascinating country.

In the late 15th century, the Low Countries became a battleground between the Habsburgs and the Dutch, leading to the establishment of the Dutch Republic and the eventual independence of Belgium in the 19th century. In the years that followed, the country became a centre for trade, industry, and innovation, attracting immigrants from all over Europe and beyond.

Today, Belgium is a vibrant and diverse country with a rich cultural heritage and a dynamic economy. Whether you're interested in history, culture, or modern-day life, Belgium has something to offer every traveller. So if you're planning a trip to Europe, be sure to include Belgium in your itinerary and discover all that this fascinating country has to offer.

Major Cities (Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges)

Brussels:

Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and the European Union. It's known for its stunning architecture, including the iconic Atomium and the beautiful Art Nouveau buildings. Visitors can also enjoy the famous Grand Place, the Manneken Pis statue and the famous chocolate shops. Don't miss the chance to taste traditional Belgian waffles, frites, and beers while you're there.

Antwerp:

Antwerp is a historic port city known for its diamonds, fashion, and art. The city boasts several architectural gems, including the Antwerp Central Station and the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady. Antwerp is also famous for its vibrant nightlife and cultural scene, with several art museums and music venues to choose from.

Ghent:

Ghent is a mediaeval city known for its well-preserved architecture, canals, and historical landmarks. The city's most famous attraction is the magnificent St. Bavo's Cathedral, home to the famous painting The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Jan van Eyck. Visitors can also explore the beautiful Graslei, the mediaeval castle of Gravensteen, and the trendy Design Museum Gent.

Bruges:

Bruges is a charming city known for its picturesque canals, beautiful architecture, and quaint cobbled streets. The city's most famous landmark is the stunning Belfry Tower, offering panoramic views of the city. Bruges is also home to several historic buildings, including the Basilica of the Holy Blood and the Markt, a beautiful central square surrounded by historic buildings. Visitors can also enjoy the city's famous chocolates, beers, and waffles.

Landmarks & Attractions

Belgium is a country with a rich history and cultural heritage, offering a wealth of landmarks and attractions for visitors to explore. Some of the must-see attractions include:

Atomium
This iconic modernist building, located in Brussels, offers panoramic views of the city from its observation deck. Visitors can also explore its nine spheres, which house exhibitions about science, technology, and the future.
Grand Place
Also located in Brussels, the Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. The square is surrounded by stunning gothic and baroque buildings, including the beautiful Hôtel de Ville.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
This beautiful basilica, located in Bruges, is said to contain a vial of the Holy Blood, making it a major pilgrimage site for Christians. The basilica is also a great example of flamboyant Gothic architecture.
St. Bavo's Cathedral
This magnificent cathedral, located in Ghent, is home to the famous painting The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Jan van Eyck. Visitors can also admire the cathedral's stunning stained-glass windows, altarpieces, and sculptures.
Antwerp Central Station
This stunning railway station, located in Antwerp, is a masterpiece of Victorian architecture and one of the city's most famous landmarks. Visitors can admire its ornate glass and ironwork while they wait for their trains.
Gravensteen Castle
This mediaeval castle, located in Ghent, was once a formidable fortress and is now a museum showcasing the city's history. Visitors can explore its towers, dungeons, and ramparts, and enjoy panoramic views of the city from its top.
Belfry Tower
This iconic tower, located in Bruges, offers panoramic views of the city from its top. Visitors can also climb its stairs to the top for a close-up view of its carillon of 47 bells.

  These are just a few of the many landmarks and attractions that Belgium has to offer. Whether you're interested in history, architecture, art, or just looking for a fun day out, Belgium has something for everyone.

Food & Drinks

When it comes to gastronomic pleasures, Belgium reigns supreme, enticing visitors with a myriad of mouthwatering dishes and beverages. Embark on a culinary adventure and savour the following must-try delicacies:

Let your taste buds dance with delight as you bite into a warm, fragrant Belgian waffle. Crispy on the outside, yet delightfully fluffy on the inside, these delectable treats can be adorned with luscious whipped cream, fresh fruits, or a generous drizzle of rich chocolate.

Treat yourself to the iconic Belgian frites, often hailed as the epitome of perfectly cooked French fries. These golden wonders boast a distinctive thickness, offering a satisfying crunch with every bite. Dip them in an assortment of delectable sauces, elevating the flavour to new heights. Indulge your sweet tooth with world-renowned Belgian chocolate. Immerse yourself in a cocoa-infused paradise, as hundreds of skilled chocolatiers craft irresistible masterpieces. From velvety milk chocolate to exquisite dark varieties with unique flavour combinations, Belgium offers a chocolate experience like no other.

Quench your thirst with a sip of Belgian beer, renowned worldwide for its exceptional quality and diversity. With over 200 breweries dotting the landscape, the choices are endless. Explore fruity lambics, and rich dubbels, or perhaps embark on a brewery tour to witness the craft behind Belgium's liquid gold.  Delve into a bowl of succulent mussels, a beloved Belgian culinary tradition. These delicacies are often cooked in a flavorful broth, served alongside a side of crisp fries. From the classic Brussels style with white wine, garlic, and herbs to the aromatic Provençal style with tomatoes, onions, and herbs, the options are tantalisingly diverse.

Prepare your taste buds for a journey through Belgium's vibrant culinary landscape. From the mouthwatering sweetness of waffles and chocolate to the savoury delights of frites, mussels, and endives, this country offers an array of flavours that will leave you craving for more. So, immerse yourself in Belgium's culinary delights and indulge in the remarkable richness of its cuisine.

Local customs & etiquette

When visiting Belgium, it's helpful to be aware of the country's unique customs and etiquette. Belgians are friendly and welcoming, and understanding their cultural norms can enhance your experience. Here are a few key tips to keep in mind:

In terms of greetings, Belgians often greet each other with a handshake, accompanied by a polite "Monsieur" or "Madame." When dining in Belgium, it is customary to wait for the host to start eating before you begin your meal. Table manners are generally formal, so using utensils correctly and keeping your hands visible on the table is considered polite.

Belgium is a linguistically diverse country, with French, Dutch, and German being widely spoken. In the northern region, Dutch is more prevalent, while French is more common in the southern part. While English is often understood, it's appreciated if you make an effort to learn a few basic phrases in either French or Dutch.

When it comes to attire, Belgium generally follows a smart casual dress code. Avoid wearing athletic or ripped clothing in most public spaces. When visiting religious sites, remember to dress modestly to show respect. Tipping in Belgium is modest but appreciated. It is customary to round up the bill to the nearest euro and leave a small tip for good service. For example, if your bill is €12, leaving €13 or €14 is considered appropriate.

Finally, Belgium has strict smoking laws. Smoking is prohibited in most indoor areas, including restaurants and bars, so it's important to adhere to these regulations.

By being aware of these local customs and etiquette, you can navigate your way through Belgium with ease and respect for the local culture.

Buying EUROs from Ramsdens for Your Belgium Trip

Buying Euros from Ramsdens for Your Belgium Trip:

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  • Easy Ordering Process: You can easily order your Euros online or by visiting a Ramsdens branch. Simply choose the amount you need and pay for your order using a debit or credit card.

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Visit a Ramsdens branch today or order your Euros online to make your Belgium trip a hassle-free experience.