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Brussels Information

As the largest city in Belgium, Brussels is home to more than 1.1 million people who mostly descend from French and Dutch backgrounds. Both languages are spoken in Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium as well as the capital of the entire European Union. This makes Brussels a major center for economic and political affairs in Europe, though that was not always the case.

Brussels was first settled in the 6th century, around the year 580. Settlement of the area began when Saint Gaugericus built a chapel there. The area was first mentioned in recorded history in 695, when Saint Vindicianus referred to the very small community of "Brosella" in writing. The city was officially established by Duke Charles of Lower Lotharingia in 979, and a fort was built there soon afterward. In the year 1000, the Count of Leuven, Lambert I, took control of the area and helped it rapidly grow into a major trade route. The town quickly grew to the north of the Senne River, and hit 30,000 in population by 1183. In the 13th century the first city walls were constructed and expansion was allowed through the draining of marshes neighboring the island on which it was established. The final city walls were completed in 1383, and can still be seen in some areas today.

Brussels became the capital of the low countries in the 15th century and continued to flourish even as other cities nearby began to die. The city saw steady growth throughout the years until the 16th century, when King Louis XIV of France had Brussels bombed. More than 4,000 buildings, including the palace, were destroyed by an enormous fire. France took control of Brussels in the midst of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1756, but Austria regained control a few years later, before 1760.

Austria remained in control of Brussels until 1795, when France took the southern portion of the Netherlands and made Brussels its capital. Brussels was under French control once again until 1815, when it became a portion of the Netherlands. Brussels became the capital of its own country, Belgium, following a revolution in 1830. A period of urban renewal began in the 1860s and ended with many of the buildings currently seen in Brussels being constructed.

Belgium was officially split into three different language regions in 1921, with Brussels retaining both French and Dutch dialects. Today Brussels is a thoroughly modern city that is home to governmental buildings, shopping centers, universities, and all the conveniences its residents desire.

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