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The European Parliament - the European District Brussels


Are you planning a trip to the Belgian capital and looking for information on the European Quarter of Brussels? At first glance, this district, home to one of Europe's decision-making centres, is not the one you immediately think of when visiting Brussels. Yet it has a lot to offer. From urban and governmental landscapes to architectural and cultural treasures, discover the many facets of this historic district of Brussels.


History of this Brussels business district


Established in 1837 on the initiative of King Leopold I, the European Quarter of Brussels (previously known as the "Leopold Quarter") was the city's first intramural district. It was originally intended for the upper middle classes and nobility fleeing the bustling centre of Brussels. Throughout the 19th century, beautiful residences, private mansions, squares and green spaces were built and developed.

Victor Horta, a Belgian architect and one of the initiators of Art Nouveau in Belgium, designed and built many exceptional buildings in this district. These are remarkable works in which iron and glass intermingle, like Hotel van Eetvelde in 1895 for example.

Over the course of the 20th century, European institutions gradually moved in and the area became a business district.
The European District is located in the Rue de la Loi and covers three areas: Brussels, Etterbeek and Ixelles. It can be reached from Brussels airport (by De Lijn or STIB) or by metro (Maelbeek or Schuman stations, lines 1 and 5).


New perspectives for Brussels' European Quarter


In 1989, the Brussels-Capital Region set itself the goal of making this district a place of social diversity. A district based on a fairer balance between institutions, residences and culture. 
This led to the launch of a host of projects, including the Loi urban project, involving the creation of new housing, shops, public facilities and offices.
In 2008, the Region launched a sustainable development initiative. It also wanted to create more mobility and user-friendly spaces, strengthen the functional mix and develop the cultural potential of the area.
Since then, the European Quarter has evolved considerably. It is no longer just about government institutions, private companies and lobbying. The quality of its public spaces has improved significantly, and post-modern residences and buildings have sprung up, as have cultural areas.
Now, new urban planning ambitions are emerging with a single goal in mind: to transform this area dominated by government institutions into a great place to live. An aspiration that is becoming increasingly strong among the district's residents and workers.


Home to the European institutions and an international employment hub


The European Quarter attracts workers from all over the world. There are no fewer than 27,000 European employees in this international employment centre, giving it a multicultural identity.

The headquarters of the European institutions is home to :

  • The European Parliament: represents the citizens of the European Union. Members of Parliament attend plenary sessions 3 weeks out of 4. You can visit the hemicycle of the European Parliament.
  • The European Commission: negotiates the European Union's international agreements. It is housed in the cross-shaped Berlaymont building. If you book several weeks in advance, you can discover the Commission and talk to officials.
  • The Council of the European Union: brings together representatives of European governments to decide on legislation.
  • The European Council: the Heads of State meet in the Europa building to define the main policy guidelines. You can take part in weekly guided tours of the European Council and the Council of the European Union.


A cultural quarter that tourists love



If you venture into Brussels' European District, you can : 

  • stroll through the many green spaces
  • have a drink in some of the trendiest places;
  • come face to face with a sumptuous mansion in typical Art Nouveau style;
  • visit museums that are well worth a visit.

All these changes have helped the district become Brussels' second most popular tourist destination in recent years.
The European Quarter reveals some well-hidden treasures behind its many institutions.

These include the Parc Léopold and its English-style gardens, the Parc de Bruxelles, a favourite place for locals to relax, and the Parc du Cinquantenaire with its triumphal arch.
Culture lovers? Take advantage of the many museums nearby. Visit the Parlamentarium free of charge and learn more about how the EU works. The House of European History is also not to be missed. Visit the Eastman building to find out more about the events that have shaped the EU. 
In a totally different atmosphere, visit the Museum of Natural Sciences, with Europe's largest collection of dinosaurs. Not far away, you can visit Autoworld, a dedicated motor museum. It's the perfect way to enjoy an enlightening trip on a family holiday to Brussels!
Don't forget to pop into one of the many bars and restaurants in the area around Place Jean Rey or Place Jourdan. You'll love the local and seasonal produce, and for something a little more gourmet, try the Belgian chip shops!

To round off your trip to Brussels in style, head to the Place du Luxembourg on a Thursday evening to sip a cocktail or enjoy a beer on the terrace. You'll discover the pleasant cosmopolitan atmosphere that reigns in this district.
Looking for a hotel in Brussels? Contact us for accommodation in the heart of the capital, with comfortable rooms at great prices!

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