By Gabrielle Bellamy
Today my classmates and I went on a 3-hour tour of Brussels that was given by Stefaan Debrabandere, a professor at Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel (HUB). While giving the tour, we were given the entire history of Brussels as well as some Belgium history. The tour was very interesting, and Stefaan pointed out things in the Grand Place area that I had not previously noticed from our first day in the city.
Since I like history, I made a list of my 10 Favorite Belgium History Facts:
1) Brussels had the 1st indoor shopping mall in 1847
2) Jean Neuhaus created the chocolate preline… but his wife came up with the idea to box the chocolate, called a ballotin, the way we still see it today (women make the world better)
3) Victor Hugo (author of Les Miserables) lived here!
4) The Atomium was placed here when the World Fair was hosted in Brussels in 1958.
5) Brussels has been owned by Spain, Austria, and France.
6) There are many lace stores here. The handmade lace was first made in Brussels during the Industrial Revolution by Catholics.
7) Speaking of Catholics, they used to hate Jews to the extreme! At the Cathéddrale des Saints Michel et Gudule Bruxelles, the stained glass windows portray a story that ends in killing the Jews in Brussels. The moral of the story was: Never trust a Jew.
8) Brussels was once known as Broek-Sala, which means settlement in the swamps.
9) Many of the buildings here were actually re-built on top of the original buildings.
10) A the “heart” of Brussels, one can see the 3 residences for the judicial, legislative, and executive branches (which, as journalists, it is important to know.
We are staying in the lower-level of Brussels. On the tour, we had a chance to see not only the lower level, but we also walked up to the upper-level of Brussels. You know how I said the lower level reminded me of NYC’s Village? Well, the upper level reminded me of the financial dristrict. I enjoyed being in the upper level and being able to see over the city of Brussels. I also enjoyed seeing the different buildings such as the cathedrals, museums, and palaces. The downside of today was the weather. No sun, wind, and cold weather in the 50s (Fahrenheit). I could not be bothered; my head and fingers were freezing. Hopefully, it is much warmer for the rest of the trip.