What Is Belgium Famous For? 21 Travel Facts About Belgium
Belgium is an important political center that plays a big part in everyday life.
In addition to that, for a visitor, Belgium has a lot of cultural, historical, exciting and fine things to explore.
What is Belgium famous for? Belgium is famous for its cuisine, particularly French fries, chocolate, waffles, and beer. It is also famous for loads of other things, such as being the location of the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, being a country with one of the highest tax rates, and its comics especially the internationally popular Adventures of Tintin. Some other things Belgium is famous for are its fine lace, Antwerp diamonds, and Brussels.
Belgium is one of the safest and most peaceful countries in the world.
It has a rich history and beautiful places of interest to see. Some are widely known and some are somewhat lesser-known.
Below you will find 21 things that Belgium is famous for.
Belgium is particularly famous for its good food. Based on the region the food varies widely, but a lot of dishes are eaten throughout the country.
Belgian people love to eat and frequent restaurants all the time.
In Belgium, you’ll find meals ranging from really simple snacks to full course dinners, from cheap affordable food to really pricey meals.
French Fries (Or Belgium Fries?)
You don’t need me to tell you what French fries are. Potato chips, chips, fries, french-fried potatoes, finger chips, etc, whatever the name, this is a super favorite food in the world.
Despite the term “French” fries, apparently, it originated in Belgium.
There is a history to this wonderful crispy stick. Apparently, fries were introduced to American soldiers during WWI by the Belgium soldiers who spoke French, hence the name “French” fries.
This is a disputed theory though. But I think it makes sense because French cuisine is famous but not for its fries in particular. Belgium is famous for its fries.
Although, this is an ongoing dispute about which country is actually the birthplace of the fries since both are claiming to be the origin.
In Belgium, fries are served in a variety of ways. You can find fries in fast-food stands or dedicated fast-food restaurants called friteries, frituur or frietkot.
It is served with a range of sauces, sometimes on its own or with other snacks.
INFO: The Belgium traditional way of serving fries is in a "cornet de frites", which is a thick white paper in a cone-shape wrapped again in another think piece of paper with sauce on the top.
Fries are also obviously popular within the country so a lot of the houses there have a deep-fryer to make their own fries.
Belgium is the chocolate heaven for chocolate lovers. It is renowned for its high-quality chocolate.
There a more than 2000, small and large, chocolatiers there. And 172,000 tonnes of chocolate are produced every year and exported around the world.
The history of chocolate in Belgium dates as far back as 1635. Since 1884 the composition of chocolates is governed by the law to prevent lowering the quality of the chocolates with low-quality fats.
The chocolate bar and praline were invented by the Belgians. Seafood pralines are particularly popular with tourists and they are available all over the country.
Belgians follow traditional methods which are another reason for the top quality of their chocolate.
Making hand-crafted chocolates are a laborious task. But the small independent chocolate shops that sell hand-crafted products are popular with tourists.
Famous chocolatiers strictly follow traditional recipes and sometimes their own secret recipes for their products, like Guylian and Neuhaus.
Some other popular Belgian chocolatiers are Côte d'or and Leonidas.
In Belgium, you’ll be able to enjoy several kinds of waffles, Brussels waffles, Liège waffles, and stroopwafel.
Belgium waffles were introduced to the USA in 1962 by a Belgian named Walter Cleyman. He served it with whipped cream and strawberries.
In the USA, Brussels waffles are what is usually known as the Belgium waffle.
Another thing Belgium is famous for is its castles.
After Wales, Belgium has the most number of castles per square kilometer.
If you are someone like me who is fascinated by historic castles and their tales, then Belgium should be your next travel destination.
I’m not only fascinated by just the historical facts of castles but by their lifestyle, architecture, and surroundings.
It’s like taking a step back into Medieval times. To get the full experience, Belgium is the ideal place.
NOTE: There are more than 3000 castles and chateaux in the country.
Speaking of castles, I cannot skip over the most famous one, Gravensteen. Located in East Flanders in the city of Ghent, Gravensteen is a picture out of a fairy tale.
The current castle was built by Philip of Alsace and dates back to 1180. It was built to show power.
However, in later years it turned into a torture house and injustice prevailed here.
The present-day it is a museum. You will be able to see evidence of the grim past in the museum.
A large quantity of beer is produced in Belgium and there is a very wide range of beers available there. There are more than 1000 types of beer produced in Belgium.
Beers are typically bought or served in bottles rather than in cans.
Additionally, almost every variety of beer has it’s own uniquely branded and shaped glass. Apparently, this enhances the taste and aroma of the beer.
Belgium uses 4 unique types of fermentation methods for beer brewing. It has an ancient brewing tradition that traces back to the early Middle Ages.
The most popular type of Belgian beer is the Trappist beers.
In the past beer was produced in monasteries by monks as a source of income for them. This is how Abbey beers came to be, although today, many Abbey beers are that only in name.
Trappist Beers are one type that is still brewed in strictly in monasteries. As the name clearly says, they are produced in Trappist monasteries.
There are 6 Trappist monasteries in Belgium. The Trappist beer producers today are Achel, Orval, Chimay, Westmalle, Rochefort, and Westvleteren.
If you visit Belgium, you must try a Trappist beer, particularly Westvleteren. They are widely known as the paradigm of the beer experience in Belgium.
Touring Trappist monasteries and sampling their beer is a popular tourist activity. However, in most Belgium monasteries, visiting the actual monastery is not allowed.
Headquarters Of The European Union And NATO
This is another famous fact about Belgium, although this is not something you can savor or tour.
The headquarters of the European Union and NATO is in Brussels.
Although it is the de facto capital of the EU, EU has no official capital nor does it seem like it has any plans to declare one.
When Brussels was chosen as the de facto capital of the EU, things like its excellent communications with the member nations, the fact that it is a large and active city, its location between the Germanic and Latin civilizations and some more crucial details were taken into account.
Brussels hosts the official seats of Council of the European Union, a seat of the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission.
And, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO’s headquarters are also in Brussels, in the municipality of Evere.
This is not something that many of us like, but it is very important to any country.
And Belgium is famous for it, taxes, i.e. it has one of the highest tax rates in the world. How you have to pay taxes depends on whether you are a Belgian resident or not.
The average income tax rate in Belgium is 42%. This makes the cost of living in Belgium very high.
However, the government uses these taxes to fund its remarkable social programs that give benefits that outweigh the costs, such as the social security system and medical services.
And thanks to these great social services and the fact that healthy groceries and housing costs are lower (compared to other countries), even people with a low income have the chance to put food on the table and afford a place to stay in.
Overall the good outweighs the bad, and this makes Belgium a fantastic place to live in.
The Largest Chocolate Sales Outlet In The World
You already know how popular Belgian chocolate is. And it would only make sense that the largest chocolate selling outlet is in Belgium too.
If you’d forgotten to buy some Belgian chocolate delicacies or just couldn’t control yourself around the ones you already bought, then you are in luck as the Brussels Airport is a suitable place to stock up.
The largest chocolate sales point is at Brussels Airport!
If you are an extreme chocolate lover, then replenishing your chocolate stocks at the end of your stay in the Airport is ideal.
FUN FACT: About 1.5 kg of chocolate is sold per day at Brussels Airport, adding up to 2 tonnes per day and a staggering 800 tonnes per year!
You find some of the best Belgian chocolate brands I mentioned earlier in shops there, like Godiva and Neuhaus.
But just be sure to keep an eye on the weight of your luggage, you don’t want to skip over the baggage allowance.
Have you heard of Tintin, The Smurfs, and Lucky Luke? Most of us have.
They are some of the most famous comics in the world and are all from Belgium.
Comics play an integral part of the Belgium culture.
Belgium is one of the countries that played a vital role in the development of European comics.
There are more than 700 comic writers in Belgium, making Belgium home to the largest density of comic illustrators and creators in the world.
The city of Brussels is particularly famous for comics.
The Brussels' Comic Book Route is a path that is made up of several comic strip murals covering the walls of several buildings.
It spreads throughout the inner city and the Laeken and Auderghem neighborhoods.
At the Comic Book Route, you’ll find scenes from popular Belgian comics such as Tintin (of course), the Smurfs, Gaston, Gil Jourdan, Marsupilami and Lucky Luke.
The Adventures of Tintin
Having mentioned comics in Belgium I can’t omit Tintin, the brave Belgian reporter, and adventurer.
In the 20th century, The Adventures of Tintin was one of the most famous European comics.
Tintin was created by the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi. He wrote under the name Hergé'.
The series has 24 comic albums and made its first appearance in 1929 in French.
By 2007 it had been published in over 70 languages with sales of over 200 million copies. Plus it had been adapted for television, radio, film, and theatre.
Sadly I doubt most of the kids today have ever heard of these adventurous comics that we read or have any interest in them thanks to technology.
Held in the Belgian town of Boom, Tomorrowland is the largest electronic dance music festival in the world.
It is the most well-known music festival in the world.
The festival extends over two weekends. And the tickets sell out within minutes, so be quick to grab yours as soon as they are out.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do keep in mind though, that this is not a safe place for smaller children, and should only be enjoyed by adults.
Yet another famous export of Belgium is its fine lace. Handmade lace is highly esteemed and very costly.
One major reason why Belgium lace is popular is due to its production method.
Each worker is responsible for creating a particular part of a whole lace project, hence no one person experienced in creating the whole finished piece.
This method made it easy to keep the Belgian lace-making secrets and harder to spread to other regions. This is why even today, Belgium is one of the few places that you’ll find the best handmade lace.
Bruges is famous for its lace.
Time to do a bit of time traveling!
One of the biggest attractions in Belgium is its medieval towns. If you are a lover of history then you won’t be disappointed.
In addition to the scores of castles dotted around the country, you get to see well preserved historical towns too.
I’ll give you some tips on some of the top choices.
Bruges is one of the most popular cities in Belgium.
The historic center of Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage site, it boasts rich medieval architecture and most of it is still intact. It is one of the most well preserved medieval towns in Europe.
The most famous structure in Bruges is the 13th-century belfry.
Then there is the city of Ghent, Liege, Mechelen, and Brussels to name a few, but there are loads more.
Antwerp has been and still is an important city both economically and culturally.
In addition to being known for having one of the biggest ports in the world, Antwerp is also known for its diamond industry and trade.
It has been an important place for diamond trade since the 15th century and has been known as the diamond capital of the world.
Most of the diamond trade takes place within the diamond district.
There are 380 diamond workshops serving 1500 companies plus 3500 diamond cutters, brokers, and merchants.
The bronze statue of a naked little boy urinating into the basin of the fountain called the Manneken-pis, is the most well-known symbol of the people of Brussels.
It is located in the center of the city.
The original statue was erected in 1618 or 1619.
What you see today is a replica of it that was placed in 1965. You can see the original in the Museum of the City of Brussels.
Several times a week, Manneken-pis is dressed up in different costumes and his closet consists of about 1000 different costumes.
And the weirdest event is that on certain occasions, such as Meyboom plantation, a keg of beer is attached to the statue, so that beer flows out of it.
NOTE: Cups filled with this beer are given to passers-by.
Imagine that! Or don’t, just go for it if you happen to be lucky enough to travel to Brussels on one such occasion.
Billiard Balls manufactured in Belgium are famed for their excellent quality and durability.
Belgian billiard balls are famous with professional and amateur billiards alike.
Belgium is a leader in the world market of billiard ball production.
FUN FACT: Over 80% of the world’s billiard players use Belgian made billiard balls.
Grand Place in Brussels
The central square of Brussels, which is the Grand Place, is known as one of the most beautiful places in the world. And it is an important tourist attraction site.
It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998.
It is unlike any other square in Europe and is renowned for its beautiful decorative wealth.
Various festivals and cultural events are often held here.
The most significant and famous events are the Ommegang and the Flower Carpet.
The Ommegang is a re-enactment of the historical event in Brussels in 1549, which memorializes the Joyous Entry of Emperor Charles V.
And the Flower Carpet, as the name indicates, is a large flower carpet of beautiful patterns made from a million begonias.
It is set up in the Grand Place every 2 years and covers an area of 24 by 77 meters.
Town of Spa
Spa is a town in the Liège province in Belgium. It is one of the primary tourist cities in Belgium.
It is known for its hot springs and mineral water. In fact, the word “spa” that we use today to refer to health resorts, originated here.
It has been a popular recreation destination since the 16th century.
Today you will find museums, sports activities, places to go shopping, cultural events, the prestigious casino, and world-famous race track there in addition to the thermal springs.
I’d say this is the ideal place to go to at the end of your vacation in Belgium.
Also, the world-famous bottled mineral waters “Spa” comes from this beautiful town.