Brussels, the capital of Belgium, has grown from a 10th-century fortress town to the de facto capital of the European Union (EU). Being the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Brussels has been a major centre for international politics since the Second World War. The Dutch-French bilingual city’s architecture is quite diverse, ranging from medieval to postmodern buildings. One of the top attractions of the city is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Grand Place with a gothic town hall, the Royal Palace of Laeken with its famous greenhouses, the St Michel and Gudula Cathedral, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
There also several world-renowned museums in the city, including the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium with extensive collection of masterpieces by Bruegel, Jacob Jordaens, Anthony van Dyck and other famous artists, the Magritte Museum housing the world’s largest surrealist collection by Rene Magritte, the BELvue Museum dedicated to Belgium’s national history, and the Museum of Modern Art. Brussels is also popular for its performing arts scene, with highlights such as the National Orchestra of Belgium and the Brussels Philharmonic hosted at Bozar (Center for Fine Arts) and Flagey cultural centre; the Brussels Theatre, and the La Monnaie Theatre and Opera House. Being the capital of the comic strip, walls throughout the city are painted with comic book characters, also known as the Brussels’ Comic Book Route and a museum has been devoted to it as well, known as the Comic Musem. Other landmarks include the Brussels Stock Exchange, the Palace of Justice, and the European Quarter.