Brussels (French: Bruxelles, Dutch: Brussel) is the capital city of Belgium and of Brussels Capital Region. It is entirely surrounded by Dutch-speaking Flanders and its constituent Flemish Brabant province. As headquarters of many European institutions, Brussels might also be considered something of a capital for the European Union. Being at the crossroads of cultures (the Germanic in the North and the Romance in the South) and playing an important role in Europe, Brussels fits the definition of the archetypal “melting pot”, but still retains its own unique character. The population of the city of Brussels is 1 million and the population of Brussels metropolitan area is just over 2 million.When Brussels became the capital city of a new country in the 19th century, many buildings in the old town were destroyed to make way for brand new ministries, palaces, schools, army barracks and office blocks constructed between 1880 and 1980. The historic Flemish town centers are better preserved in other cities: Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Courtray, Leuven and Mechelen.Brussels operates as a bilingual city where both French (85%) and Dutch (Flemish) (15%) are official languages. Thus all the streets have two names, which can sound totally different. For example, the Main Square is called both la Grand Place and de Grote Markt. Although officially bilingual, French is undoubtedly Brussels’ lingua franca. English is also widely understood, but not always widely spoken. Visitors should realize that language is a very divisive issue in Belgium (though this is not as noticeable in Brussels). Historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels became more and more French-speaking during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, most inhabitants speak French in daily life. Some numbers say that more than half of the inhabitants of Brussels do not speak French or Dutch at home. The Brussels dialect, a Brabantian dialect of Dutch, can be heard, especially in the outer districts of Brussels Capital Region. French speakers shouldn’t have too much trouble understanding the local French. Dutch speakers may have some difficulty with the Belgian Dutch accent.English has become a common spoken language because of the international institutions based in Brussels, such as the European Commission, the European Parliament and NATO. It is still relatively rare to find written tourist or general information in English, although the situation is improving greatly. One can expect public announcements in train stations to at least be said in French and Dutch, while larger train stations (such as Zuidstation/Gare Du Midi) typically include English and sometimes German. English is also used on metros, trams and buses, announced last for information such as line transfers and terminal stops. Do not hesitate to ask someone if you do not understand what has been said.Brussels weather can often be grey and humid with a high and fairly evenly distributed annual average rainfall of 820 mm (32 in) and on average approximately 200 days of rainfall per year, both which are more than that of London and Paris. Summers tend to be cooler and wetter than London and Paris and winters colder. The daily and monthly temperature variations are quite small. Daily differences between average highs and average lows don’t exceed 9C (16F).In the summer, maximum temperatures rarely reach 30C (86F) but can feel much hotter due to high humidity. The summer visitor should be prepared for rain. Warm and sunny weather is not constant during that season or even to be expected.After October, temperatures can drop off quite rapidly and winter months are often damp and chilly. However temperatures of 15C (59F) are not unusual into December. Snowfall is rare, and starts to melt fairly quickly, becoming slush on the ground. The winter visitor should be prepared for wet ground.Brussels is split into nineteen communes or gemeenten (municipalities/boroughs):Brussels’ main airport is Brussels Airport, (locally still commonly referred to as Brussels National or Zaventem) (IATA code: BRU). Several major carriers operate out of the airport, including the local Brussels Airlines, which is owned by Lufthansa.Brussels Airport has a luggage locker service (Level 0) where you can leave luggage for a fixed duration. The lockers say that you will have to retrieve your bags within 72 hours or else they will be removed, but they are actually moved to the room next door and stored until you retrieve them. This is a useful facility for people wanting to stow away big suitcases somewhere safe. The rate is 7.50 per 24 hours. You need to pay in coins, a change machine is nearby.To travel between the airport and the city:Alternatively, Brussels can be reached by train much more cheaply via Zaventem village (dorp) station, which is within easy walking distance from the airport. At 2,90, the fare is three times cheaper than the ticket from Brussels Airport Station to the city. This is because the expensive Diabolo Surcharge on airport trains does not apply here

Airport: BRU Brussels Airport Cities in Belarus

Country: Belgium