Brussels, Belgium

Brussels (French: Bruxelles, Dutch: Brussel, German: Brüssel) is the capital of Belgium. Its name comes from the old Dutch Broekzele, "home in the marsh." Brussels is officially bilingual (Dutch and French), but most residents speak French.

As the headquarters of the European Union and the political seat of NATO, modern Brussels has become the unofficial capital of Europe. This has brought a distinct cosmopolitan air and many shiny new office buildings to the city, but alongside all this modernity are the cobbled streets, splendid cafés, fresh mussels with fries, handmade lace, world-famous chocolate, local beers, and graceful Art Nouveau architecture that have long made Brussels great.

Brussels has a long and eventful history, during which it was ruled by everyone from the Romans to the Spanish to the Germans. In 1830, the Belgian Revolution erupted in Brussels, after which the first King of Belgium ascended the throne. Like many European cities, Brussels suffered significant damage from air strikes during World War II, but many historic structures remain. Follow a link below to learn more about the spiritual heritage of Brussels.

Abbaye de la Cambre
This peaceful abbey dates from medieval times but has been used for government offices since the French Revolution. The abbey church has a beautifully simple barrel-vaulted nave.
St. Mary's Church
The Église Sainte-Marie is a large Byzantine-style Catholic church near the Royal Palace. Now located in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood, it is mainly used for concerts and ecumenical functions.
Great Synagogue
Built in 1878, the Great Synagogue of Brussels is housed in a building often described as "stately Romanesque." The synagogue is active and hosts several Jewish organizations as well.
Basilica Koekelberg
Officially named the Basilique Sacré-Coeur, this huge Art Deco basilica is the fifth-largest church in the world. It was begun in 1905 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence.
Notre Dame du Sablon
This lovely Late Gothic church was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. It has a four-fold gallery, bright stained glass windows, and a statue with an interesting history.
Brussels Cathedral
The soaring Gothic Cathédrale Saint-Michel has housed the relics of the local saint Gudula for 1,000 years. The cathedral dates mostly from the 13th century and is the primary Catholic church of Belgium.
Anderlecht Beguinage
This was the home of the Beguines, Catholic lay sisters who were mostly widows of Crusaders. They lived in small houses grouped around a pleasant courtyard, two of which are preserved as a museum.
St. Nicholas Church
Houses huddle cozily on the sides of this 11th-century Romanesque church with a 14th-century Gothic facade. A cannonball fired by the French in 1695 is still lodged in one of its pillars.