Belgium: 10 Reasons You Need To Visit One of the Most Underrated Countries in Europe

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Belgium: 10 Reasons You Need To Visit One of the Most Underrated Countries in Europe

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Belgium: 10 Reasons You Need To Visit One of the Most Underrated Countries in Europe

Often out-shadowed by its neighboring tourism hot spots such as cities like Paris and Amsterdam, Belgium has a plethora of stunning attractions such as its beautifully preserved medieval towns to the remarkable Gothic architecture lining its historic streets. Here's ten reasons this fascinating country should be top of your list of places to visit in Europe.

1. Grand Place (Brussels)

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Stand in the center of Brussels and marvel in awe at one of the most breathtaking views in Europe. The Grand Place is a square surrounded by magnificent historical buildings in what was once an important marketplace set up in the 11th century. Some of the surrounding buildings were first constructed as guildhalls supplying goods for the market. The square is also well-known for its bi-yearly Flower Carpet, a huge array of almost a million plants arranged to look like a carpet.

2. Historic Centre of Brugge (Bruges)

Photo by Lou Stejskal

The stunningly picturesque city of Bruges is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe, offering a wealth of art and cultural activities and an insight into its fascinating history, as one of the best-preserved medieval towns you'll find on the continent. Many buildings built during the medieval period are still standing today and coupled with its cobbled streets makes it feel like you've gone back in time or been whisked away to a fairy tale town. Also, one of the numerous towns dubbed as 'Venice of the North' for its many beautiful canals that snake around the city, Bruges really is a photographer’s dream.

3. Menin Gate Memorial (Ieper)

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A war memorial dedicated to British and Commonwealth soldiers with no graves who were killed in the area during World War I, the Menin Gate lists the names of 54,896 fallen soldiers. The location of the memorial was chosen as it was once the gate to the main road to the front lines during the war, meaning many troops would pass through on their way to the fighting.

4. Ghent City Center (Ghent)

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Along with Bruges, Ghent is another stunningly well-preserved medieval European town. Once one of the largest and most developed towns in Europe during much of the Middle Ages, Ghent offers a wealth of history and picturesque architectural structures. Some of the old town's most magnificent buildings include Saint Bavo's Cathedral, Saint Nicholas' Church and the Gravensteen, a medieval castle dating back to 1180.

5. Tyne Cot Cemetery (Zonnebeke)

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A highly moving and sobering but necessary experience for anyone visiting Belgium, Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the world for Commonwealth soldiers. The fields are used for the graves of almost twelve thousand British and Commonwealth troops who died fighting on the western front during World War I. A stone wall surrounding part of the cemetery also features a memorial to over 30,000 missing soldiers without graves who died in the area.

6. Dinant

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This stunningly picturesque city in the south of the country is full of breathtaking scenery and quaint charming architecture on the banks of the River Meuse. A little far from the main cities of Belgium that are aligned more to the north, Dinant is often overlooked by tourists visiting the country. Those who do make the journey south however are well rewarded. The steep cliffs lining the banks of the river and various historical buildings around the center make for a highly unique urban scenery that shouldn't be missed. Dinant also offers various activities and events such as the quirky Bathtub Regatta, where participants build and race down the river in bathtubs every year on August 15th.

7. St. Bavo's Cathedral (Ghent)

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One of the most magnificent structures in the picturesque city of Ghent, St. Bavo's Cathedral towers above the center with its imposing Gothic architecture. The interior of the cathedral is particularly breathtaking, hosting a range of exquisite decorations, historic artifacts and religious works of art such as the Ghent Altarpiece, a huge visually-stunning altarpiece completed in the 15th century.

8. Belfry of Bruges (Bruges)

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This medieval bell tower is one of the most prominent structures in Bruges, serving as a look-out tower for fires and other danger from the 13th century. Towering 83 meters of the historical center of the city, the Belfry of Bruges offers an unrivaled viewpoint over the picturesque medieval town below.

9.Beguinage (Bruges)

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The Beguinage of Bruges is a beautifully preserved medieval nunnery which once housed women who had suffered from wars such as the Crusades, often where their husbands or children had died. The area features some stunning architecture originating in the Middle Ages along with picturesque courtyards and gardens, a perfect representation of the historical and beautiful landscape Belgium has to offer.

10. Graslei and Korenlei (Ghent)

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This pair of opposite quays in the center of Ghent offers one of the most picture-perfect views in all of Europe. This waterfront facade has a long history dating back to as early as the 5th century, with the area being of great significance during the Middle Ages when the town flourished as merchants flocked to trade their wares.

◎ Closing

Belgium has a rich and fascinating history, easily witnessed from its beautifully preserved medieval towns to the somber role it's played as the 'Battleground of Europe' where numerous conflicts since the Roman Empire have been fought. As the current headquarters of the EU and other institutes, only political battles rage in this nation known for constantly changing the path of history.