Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか?
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Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか?
Such a small & minor country but... マイナーな小国、しかし・・
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Belgium among world’s least religious countries

Belgium among world’s least religious countries | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Belgium is one of the least religious countries in the world, according to a recent study published by market research firm WIN/Gallup International. The study surveyed 63,898 people in 65 countries and found that 44% of Belgians consider themselves to be religious, while 30% say they are not religious and 18% are atheist.

The results show that Belgium is in line with the rest of Western Europe, where 43% of the population are religious, 37% not religious and 14% atheist. The least religious country in Europe is Sweden, with only 19% believers and about 78% non-believers or atheists. The Czech Republic follows closely behind, with only 23% of its population following a religion, as does the Netherlands, with 26%. In France, 40% consider themselves religious.

According to the study, 63% of the world population is religious, a number which continues to grow. One in five worldwide are non-believers, and 11% are atheist. The most religious regions are Africa (86%) and the Middle East and North Africa (82%). Thailand (94%) is the most religious country in the world, while China’s population includes 61% convinced atheists.

WIN/Gallup also examined the relationship between gender, age, income, education and religion, and found that people with a higher income tend to be less religious, while 70% of people with a low or average income are more religious. The group of convinced atheists surveyed generally have an above-average income.
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Brussels wins award for pedestrian zone - and vetoes another project

Brussels wins award for pedestrian zone - and vetoes another project | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
The city of Brussels has won a European town planning award for its pedestrian zone - in the same week that it vetoed plans for another pedestrian area on Place Royale.The Boulevard Anspach pedestrianisation, which began last year, was one of three winners out of 20 candidates at the 11th European Urban and Regional Planning Awards, organised by the European Council of Town Planners, ECTP.Brussels city hall said the award "affirms our willingness to give the city centre back to its inhabitants and to contribute to a better environment".Jan Schollaert, the Brussels city planner overseeing the project, picked up the award. The jury praised his team for prioritising pedestrians and cyclists in the heart of Brussels, rethinking the links between residential and tourist areas and making environmental upgrades to public spaces.News of the award came as the city of Brussels vetoed a plan to partly pedestrianise Place Royale - prompting accusations from green politicians of a lack of consistency.The plan, which involved reducing the road space, and installing a new green area around the statue of Godfrey of Bouillon, had been drawn up by Beliris, a collaboration between the federal government and the Brussels-Capital region.The head of the Francophone green party Ecolo told La Libre Belgique: "This is a missed opportunity to improve the environment, quality of life and enhancement of this exceptional neoclassical heritage."The proposed solution of giving more space to pedestrians without hindering traffic is interesting. This is the type of solution which was adopted on the Place de la République in Paris, where one side of the square was closed to traffic."According to Nagy, the decision highlights an inconsistency on the board of the city of Brussels: “There is clearly opposition internally. On the one hand, they want to reduce traffic pressure, and on the other, they don’t want to touch anything - leaving the car as the preferred mode of transport, as if there was not a serious pollution problem."She was critical of Brussels' councillor for urban planning and heritage, Geoffroy Coomans de Brachène, adding: "If he thinks that the only way to value the statue of Godfrey of Bouillon is to leave it in the middle of traffic, then he has no place as alderman for heritage. At the moment, visitors risk their lives to get close to the statue."
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10 Historic Buildings & Places That Vanished In Brussels

From the middle of the 19th century, Brussels underwent a gigantic metamorphosis. The Senne was covered, and wide avenues were constructed which connected the new urban districts to the city center. Beautiful buildings in the new architectural styles of the Belle Époque arose everywhere, and after WWII, many existing sites were set to be demolished in favor of urban renewal. We take a look back at the historic buildings and places that no longer exist in the capital. The Palais des Sports in Schaerbeek The Palais des Sports in Schaerbeek opened in 1913 and could hold up to 15,000 spectators. Located on Avenue Louis Bertrand, numerous sports competitions, cultural events and political demonstrations were organized here over the years. In the indoor velodrome, the heroic six-day races of Brussels took place every year. In 1967, this legendary sports temple was demolished to make way for the residential tower Brusilia, in 1972. The Brussels North Station In 1846, at the Place Rogier, arose the majestic building of the Brussels North Station, designed by architect François Coppens. It was a central junction for the many city trams and the railway lines connecting Brussels to the northern part of the country. In 1952, the railway station was replaced by the new and more modern station that we know today. The old station building was demolished completely in 1955 and replaced by the Rogier Centre, which in turn was demolished in 2004 for the current Rogier Tower....

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Beer to flow through Belgium as pipeline dream comes true | Toronto Star

Beer to flow through Belgium as pipeline dream comes true  | Toronto Star | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
BRUGES, BELGIUM—The idea may have seemed mad, but after all, the beer is called the Madman of Bruges — or Brugse Zot in Dutch.

With the help of crowdfunding efforts among some 400 Madman fans, the dream of building a beer pipeline through the Belgian city of Bruges is becoming real.

“You have to be a bit crazy — like the beer — to do such a project. I just had the money for that, and I liked it. So I went crazy and gave the money to the brewery,” said restaurant owner Philippe Le Loup, who poured $11,000 (U.S.) into the pipeline.

Brewer Xavier Vanneste got the idea four years ago to pump beer from his Bruges brewery to a bottling plant outside of town in a pipeline instead of having hundreds of trucks blighting the cobblestoned streets of the UNESCO-protected medieval city.

What at first seemed like an outrageous dream, began to seem possible when Vanneste started talking to local beer enthusiasts.

Jokes were coming in fast, with people saying “we are willing to invest as long as we can have a tapping point on the pipeline,” Vanneste said. “That gave us the idea to crowdfund the project.”

Thanks to Le Loup and others, he is now staring at the one end of the pipeline, which beginning in the fall will start pumping some 4,000 litres of beer an hour toward the bottling plant, 3 kilometres away in an industrial zone.

“That is a lot of beer, more than you can drink in a lifetime,” said the owner of De Halve Maan brewery, which in addition to Brugse Zot is also famous for its Straffe Hendrik beer brand.

Sending the pipeline along streets where customers could siphon off their favourite suds was too utopian even for Vanneste, but he came up with the next best thing: IOUs with a lifelong drinking guarantee.

“We have several formulas: bronze, silver and gold,” he said. “If you put in 7,500 euros ($8,350), you will receive for the rest of your days, every day one bottle of Brugse Zot.”

For many, that offer was hard to refuse. About 10 per cent of the total 4 million euro ($4.5 million) investment for the pipeline has been financed through crowdfunding. With it came a popular surge of support that has stood Vanneste in good stead.

With a warren of municipal, regional and federal laws governing the picturesque city, building approvals are often laborious to get. Not, however, for a beer pipeline as authorities realized the whole community was backing it.

The city also stood to gain. In between the city’s beguinage houses and Our Lady’s Cathedral, the De Halve Maan brewery has given the sometimes overly touristy city a sense of real life. Vanneste could have done what so many others have — moved out of the city with its canals, gabled Gothic houses, horse-drawn carriages and restaurants with menus in six languages.

Now, he looks forward to the best of both worlds — a historic brewery in a gorgeous location and an environmentally friendly way of transporting his brews out to the bottling plant, which will allow him to continue to grow without damaging the city.

But it’s not only Vanneste’s family business that is growing. The generous contributor to the project, Le Loup, sighed as he glanced at his own paunch.

In broken English, he said, “You can see that in my belly, I am a bit more beer fan.”
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Belgian Pride attracts 60,000 revellers

Belgian Pride attracts 60,000 revellers | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Belgium's annual Pride Parade on Saturday drew about 60,000 people to the European capital, according to the organisation and the police. The event marked the end of the two-week long Pride Festival, which this year highlighted the rights of transgender people under the slogan 'I decide'.The organisation is pleased with the turnout, according to Bruzz. "This was a very successful event. If you look at the recent events in Brussels, we can say that after today Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels put Belgium back on the map," said Pride Festival coordinator Alan De Bruyne.Amnesty International led the way for this year's parade-goers, and numerous Belgian politicians were present to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. photo: visit.brussels / Google+
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Going out: Just how LGBT-friendly is Belgium?

Going out: Just how LGBT-friendly is Belgium? | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
While many countries are still lagging behind in LGBT rights, Belgium enjoys a raft of equality laws. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1795, for example – 35 years before the Belgian state came into existence. And since 1985, the age of consent has been 16 regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.

In 2003, Belgium became only the second country in the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Initially, both parties had to come from a country that would recognise the marriage. However, this was lifted in October 2004 and now a couple only has to prove that one of them has lived legally in Belgium for three months. Today, same-sex marriages account for around 2.5% of all weddings in Belgium and just over 80% occur either in Flanders or Brussels.

The president of Antwerp Pride, Bart Abeel, agrees that in terms of legal rights and general acceptance, Belgium is an advanced country. “Law is a framework and it helps people to cross the border into acceptance.” However, he warns that in today’s difficult times, “there is a certain hard core who will resist, whether it be for cultural, moral or religious reasons. There is a risk that there might be a movement backwards. I recall saying that it won’t get any better than this, that the situation can only go backwards.”

He believes Belgium reached a summit of acceptance around 10 years ago and that the current refugee and terrorism crises have triggered a degeneration. “Refugees are vulnerable and viewed with hostility. People who had hidden lives in Syria and maintained a certain discretion were not in life-threatening situations. But now they have to be vigilant. Finding another society that is open but still linked to their culture is difficult. Politicians are refusing asylum and sending refugees back; the situation is certainly very worrying.”

Abeel likens Belgium and Europe to a fortress. “We are enlightened here and we want to keep it that way. By making it difficult for other nations to share this, the value of our moral enlightenment is futile.” He thinks the LBGT community has become spoilt over recent years.

“A perverse effect is that our community has become fashionable, even among politicians, and we allow them to take less controversial decisions. We had to struggle for what we have today and we should be empathetic to other people who don’t have these rights. What we have is a lovely party, and let’s celebrate it, but we should not be self-satisfied.”

For this reason, the situation of LGBT refugees is to be given a special mention at the next Antwerp Pride. The city has led the way, and not only in Belgium’s LGBT social scene. Abeel: “There was a lot of militancy in the 1970s and 80s. Antwerp has always been an open-minded city, a real haven.”

Though bourgeois Brussels took longer to catch up with Antwerp’s queer community, events and organisations have now spread across the country. The heart of the capital’s LGBT community can be found in the city centre, around the Grand Place, Rue du Marché au Charbon and Plattesteen. And most cities have a LGBT-friendly space. Many, such as Arc-en-Ciel in Brussels and across Wallonia, and Het Roze Huis in Antwerp, support the activities of various groups and offer a space for their members to meet. Het Roze Huis also includes the Den Draak bar on the ground floor, which overlooks a square and is a good place to meet people.

Gary James, who moved from the US to live with his Belgian partner, has found that families have an extremely strong bond in Belgium. “If you’re from a culture where LGBTs tend to make their own families, outside the biological network, then you’re going to be in for a culture shock,” he says. “My partner will eat dinner with his parents three times a week. That’s unheard of in America. Here you either spend a lot of time with the relatives, or you do things by yourself.”

To make building those networks easier, there are sports groups and social organisations around the country. Formed in 2010, Straffe Ketten (Tough Guys) is Belgium’s first gay-inclusive rugby team, based in Schaerbeek in Brussels. “About a third of our members are expats, with the rest split fairly evenly between Flanders and Wallonia,” says president Miguel Gallardo Albajar. “We have special training sessions for new players at the start of the season, but you can also join mid-season and we will help you catch up.”
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Be Snobe | I love Belgium

Be Snobe | I love Belgium | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Be Snobe

Today the I love Belgium team is introducing you to a talented dynamic duo who have started their own clothing brand, Snobe. Although their kick-ass names might suggest they have a career in crime fighting, these two Belgian creatives, Designer Paris Malungu and Brand Developer Melissa Defense seem to have set out on a mission of equal importance: creating clothing as authentic as you are.  

Inspired by the wise words of Coco Chanel, "some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity," Belgian born Malungu has been designing clothes since the age of ten. Now, 20 years later, he has brought this philosophy, that clothes are not necessarily about the name tagged on them but the feelings they inspire while you wear them, to Snobe. All of their products are one of a kind with a distinctive street style, tailor-made for each customer.   

Although their workshop is based in Brussels, you can custom order clothing, accessories and even shoes on their e-shop. The site was created to act as a virtual home for Snobe creations as well as the work of select other young entrepreneurs. Recently, the Snobe team partnered with artist Denis Meyers to create a beautiful leather jacket complementing Meyers’ new exhibition ‘Remember Souvenir.’  Because their shop is online, it isn't subject to opening and closing hours, meaning it's never too late to place an order because as they state on the website, "fashion doesn't wait."
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Belgium produces more than 1 million litres of wine

Belgium produces more than 1 million litres of wine | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Belgian wine production increased by more than half between 2014 and 2015. In 2014, the country produced 600,000 litres of wine, and in 2015 production passed the 1 million litre mark, reports Het Belang van Limburg based on figures from the FPS Economy and the Flemish Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. "The growth is a result of increased plantings, but also last year's good weather," says professor Ghislain Houben of the University of Hasselt. “In 2014, Belgium had 175 hectares of vineyards, and in 2015 this area increased to 235 hectares. In 2006, by comparison, there were only 75 hectares of vineyards in Belgium.”Limburg remains Belgium's foremost wine-producing province.
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The History Of Bozar In 1 Minute

The History Of Bozar In 1 Minute | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Defying gravitational pull up on the capital’s Mont des Arts, the Centre for Fine Arts has been attracting artists and art lovers to Brussels for nearly 90 years. Sprung from the mind of architecture royalty Victor Horta, BOZAR – where art knows no exclusion – opened its doors in 1928 and has been welcoming one and all ever since.
Designed by Horta to be an architectural bridge between the lower and upper city, the building holds an astounding total of eight levels. A great deal of these stretch on underground, leaving the unknowing bystander outside unaware of the cultural hub’s massive scale. Finding your way through the maze of concert halls, exhibition spaces, multimedia rooms and theatres can prove quite the daunting challenge – which is why BOZAR (its name derived from the French ‘beaux arts’) recommends starting your journey at the main entrance on Rue Ravenstein. And there are plenty of reasons to walk through those glass panel doors.
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10 Reasons Brussels Is Europe's Most Underrated Capital

10 Reasons Brussels Is Europe's Most Underrated Capital | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a historic town where there is always something captivating and exciting going on. This unique city provides locals and tourists with some of the best food, activities, shopping, and outdoor parks they could ask for. An old city of fantastic charm, it has a contagious positive energy, which will keep you coming back for more. The following ten reasons prove that Brussels is Europe’s most underrated capital!

Mont Des Arts | © Bridgette Gottwald
The View from Mont des Arts
Mont des Arts is a beautiful historic site, situated between the Royal Palace and Grand Place. In the heart of the capital, Mont des Arts offers one of Brussels’s finest and most appreciated views. Changing colors throughout the various seasons, its beauty never seems to subside.
Tip: Enjoy a drink on the roof terrace of the MIM (Musical Instruments Museum) for the absolute best view over Mont Des Arts and the city.

Bois De La Cambre | © Bridgette Gottwald
Gorgeous Parks
Brussels is filled with breathtaking parks and outdoor areas to enjoy on warm and cold days alike. You will often find visitors and locals walking, biking, exercising, or relaxing in these common outdoor spaces. The greenery, brightly colored leaves, and fragrant flowers are electrifying, and each park provides an enriching change of pace from city life.

Waffles in Brussels | © Jacques Renier/WikiCommons
A Waffle a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Waffles in Brussels are everything you would expect them to be, and more. Nothing beats an easily accessible truck waffle, served warm with the fixings of your choice. The batter used to make a Belgian waffle causes its interior to be as light as a feather, while the exterior is crisp with granulated sugar. Pedestrians enjoying waffles as a mid-afternoon snack are a common sight around the city. It is difficult to walk more than 10-15 minutes in any direction without running into a waffle van or stand.
Hint: The two main types of Belgian waffles are the ‘Liège’ and ‘Brussels’ variations. The most common kind (and the best), which you’ll find at waffle trucks around all major Belgian cities including Brussels, are actually Liège waffles.

La Belgique Gormande | © Bridgette Gottwald
Chocolate Shops Galore
No matter where you are in Brussels, most of the time a chocolate shop is within close reach. The homemade chocolate is extraordinary. Each piece is intricately hand-crafted to perfection and leaves you wanting more. While you’ll find well-known brands such as Neuhaus and Pierre Marcolini in most major shopping areas of Brussels, be sure to wander into smaller chocolatiers for a quaint and delicious experience.

The Markets at Flagey| © Bridgette Gottwald
Daily Markets across the City
All throughout Brussels, there are local markets, that bring in fresh goods and merchandise from around Belgium, Europe, and further afield. The ‘melting pot’ of different foods makes the experience not only unique, but also quite culturally diverse. You can purchase the freshest goods to cook your own meal, or indulge in a wide array of cuisines to sample Brussels’s fusion of different ethnic choices, including Pakistani, Thai, Italian, and countless others.

Arcades du Cinquantenaire | © Bridgette Gottwald
Arcades du Cinquantenaire
This monumental triple arch, located in the center of the vast Cinquantenaire park, is a must-see while in Brussels. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Belgian independence, it was built in 1905. Regardless of its meaning, this grand structure simply adds more splendor to an already beautiful city.
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Police arrest seven men in Brussels and Paris following terror attacks

Police arrest seven men in Brussels and Paris following terror attacks | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Police in Brussels are questioning six men arrested in overnight raids following Tuesday’s airport and metro attacks in the Belgian capital, amid reports a man detained in Paris has links to the same jihadist network.

The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said the arrests, two days after the twin suicide bombings killed 31 people and left 300 injured, came during police searches in the Brussels districts Schaerbeek and Jette, as well as in the city centre.

Three suspects were detained in a car “outside the door of the federal prosecutor’s office”, a spokesman said.

As evidence accumulated that the attacks were carried out by the same Islamic State network responsible for November’s carnage in Paris that killed 130 people, authorities in France said they had thwarted a militant plot there that was “at an advanced stage”.
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Belgium's first zero-energy office building wins top award

Belgium's first zero-energy office building wins top award | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Brussels’ Treurenberg building has won Best Innovative Green Building at the Mipim Awards in Cannes, one of the most prestigious awards ceremonies for commercial developments in the world. It is the first Mipim award for a Belgian development in four years.The Treurenberg (pictured), designed by Assar Architects of Brussels and owned by development firm AXA Belgium, is a net zero-energy office building, meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes. Located in Brussels-City on the corner of Treurenbergstraat and Leuvenseplein, it is the first zero-energy building in Belgium.Antwerp’s Groen Kwartier (Green Quarter) was also nominated for a Mipim Award in the category Best Urban Regeneration Project, and Toison d’Or in Brussels was nominated for Best Residential Development.
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Belgium's Historical Sites: Captivating Urban Ruins

Belgium's Historical Sites: Captivating Urban Ruins | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Explore three of the most significant and historically representative urban ruins in Belgium.

 

From a coal mine dating back to the 50s, to an architecturally astonishing stock exchange that recalls its glorious past as an international trading hub, to a military fort from a century ago, Belgium has a rich cultural heritage ripe for discovery byurban explorers. The following sites are three of the most significant and historically representative urban ruins in Belgium.

 
The Coal Mine of Hasard de Cheratte

An example of medieval and neo-gothic architecture, the coal mine of Hasard de Cheratte is situated in Cheratte, a section of the town of Visé in the province of Liège. Its construction started in 1850, and it was one of the first electric-powered mines in Belgium. Closed in 1877 after an accident and re-opened 30 years later, it mined coal until 1977. Composed of four mine shafts and various towers of different heights and designs, Hasard de Cheratte is symbolic of Belgium and the forgotten coal mine economy of the past. Today, almost 40 years after it closed its doors, its industrial relics provide a valuable insight into the end of an era.

 

The Stock Exchange of Antwerp

The Stock Exchange of Antwerp was built in 1531, after continuous economic growth necessitated a substitute for the previous well-known major economic hub, Bruges. The entire complex burned down twice, in 1583 and in 1858. The first building was followed by an architectural design developed by Domien de Waghemakere, composed of a rectangular space with four galleries covered by high, imposing ceilings. The present construction is the 19th century neo-gothic renovation. Its high ceilings and astonishingly detailed glass roof recall the glorious past of this famous international trading hub. Closed in 1997, when the Brussels Stock Exchange opened, it has lain neglected for nearly two decades while awaiting the approval of future construction plans.

 

The Military Fort of Liège

Fort de la Chartreuse was built between 1817 and 1823 to defend the city of Liège. It was abandoned as a fortification by the military in 1891. Germany used it as a prison between 1914 and 1918 and America as a military hospital between 1944 and 1945. The Belgian army left the site entirely in 1988. Strategically positioned, overlooking the valley of Meuse and hidden in a highly forested area, Fort de la Chartreuse makes for a very interesting historical visit. Even in complete decay, this military fort can still teach explorers about its rich historical past, as a landmark of Belgium’s history and cultural heritage.

 
 
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The Top 10 Beautiful Squares In Belgium

Discover ten of the finest squares to be found in Belgium, each with a particular nostalgic quality.
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10 Quiet Places In Brussels To Escape To

...Brussels can be a hectic place. Rush hour, Saturday shopping, the European quarter, the weekly queues. Yet, spots of tranquility can be found right in the busiest, liveliest parts of town. These are no far-away escapes, but rather easily reachable, peaceful nooks slightly hidden from sight or underrated. No need to venture to the outer edges of town to find some bliss of tranquility: Brussels offers plenty of quiet, serene spots where to unwind and relax.
The Royal Library of Belgium Café
Belgium’s Royal Library in Mont des Arts is not only one of the best-kept secrets in Brussels, but also one of the calmest spots right in the heart of the city center. Its rooftop cafeteria is an underrated and unpopulated place to enjoy your coffee break and some quiet time with a view of the Grand Place, stretching to the Koekelberg hill. All you need to do is take the lift to the fifth floor and be surprised. On a bright day, soak up the sunbeams on the colorful terrace.
Royal Library of Belgium, Boulevard de l’Empereur 2, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 5195311 ...

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Brussels ban on plastic bags in force next year

Brussels ban on plastic bags in force next year | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned in the Brussels-Capital Region from 1 September 2017, the region’s environment minister, Céline Fremault, has announced. Initially the ban will cover supermarkets before being extended to all retailers in 2018.The EU has called for member states to reduce their consumption of plastics, which are made from fossil fuels and generally not biodegradable. Flanders is preparing a similar measure, and Wallonia has already implemented a ban.Meanwhile, the main supermarket chains have introduced a more environmentally friendly bag, while charging for single-use bags and encouraging the switch to recyclable bags, which can be replaced for free.Fremault has discussed alternatives with retail federations Comeos and Atrium, which represent Brussels businesses. Some of the cost of alternative bags could, she said, be carried by the region.Opposition party Groen welcomed the announcement. “We’ve been asking for this for some time,” said Annemie Maes, member of the Brussels parliament. “We’re happy the minister has finally agreed. Raising awareness is all very well, but it only makes sense if it’s backed up with regulation.”Photo: Ingimage
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10 Alternative Things To See & Do In Belgium

10 Alternative Things To See & Do In Belgium | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it

While relatively small in size, Belgium is home to a fair number of attractions, sight-seeing opportunities and entertaining festivals. However, those looking for an amazing experience without the crowds will find the country is filled with hidden activities and places. So swap those beer and waffle tours and consider these alternative things to see and do for your next tour of Belgium.


Power Plant IM : Situated near the town of Charleroi, the abandoned cooling tower at Power Plant IM is a perfect place for urban explorers. Starting life in the 1920s, the plant soon become of the largest coal burning power plants in the country until environmental studies determined the plant was responsible for 10% of the total Belgian CO2 emissions. This shocking finding led to the plant’s owners closing operations in 2006. While slated for destruction sometime in the future, mother nature has started to reclaim the facilities with plant life creeping throughout the tower and surrounding buildings making for an eerily enjoyable exploration experience...

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Show your support for Brussels during Gay Pride: May 14, 2016

Show your support for Brussels during Gay Pride: May 14, 2016 | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it

Belgian Lesbian & Gay Pride is an annual event in Brussels since 1996 (it actually evolved from Pink Saturday gay pride observations that were first held in honor of New York City's Stonewall Riots in Antwerp beginning in 1979). Belgian Pride runs throughout early May and culminates the weekend of May 14 and 15, 2016, and this year, as the city's residents unite in the face of the tragic Brussels terrorist attacks in March, Pride is expected to take on an especially poignant and spirited atmosphere - it's a great opportunity to visit this beautiful city with a vibrant LGBT community and a slew of noteworthy attractions.

Brussels Pride includes several events through the weekend, all occurring in the city center of this urbane, gay-friendly, and relatively underrated city that's just 300 kilometers northeast of Paris and 200 kilometers south of Amsterdam. Also note that the week preceding Pride is "Rainbow Week" throughout Belgium, and this includes a number of events in other communities.


The festivities commence for about two weeks before the big weekend with a variety of parties and events around the city - here's a full calendar of events. On Belgian Pride Day (Saturday, May 14), which draws some 80,000 spectators and participants, there's an opening religious ceremony in the morning, a festival at the "Pride Village" that's set up in front of the Bourse (Place de la Bourse/Beursplein) in the heart of the city, a Pride Parade at 2 pm that begins at the Pride Village, entertainment and live music at the Pride Village Main Stage, and then Pride Parties throughout the evening. Brussels Gay Resources...

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Brussels Hotels Pyjama’s Nights

Brussels Hotels Pyjama’s Nights | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
From 5 to 8 May 2016 inclusive, during the annual Brussels Region festival "Fête de l’Iris" : 50% OFF on ROOM RATE!

Participating hotels offer a 50% discount on the room rate at check-in for new reservations made as from 27 April, in the following conditions:

- Reservation has to be made directly with the hotel via its website, email, phone or walk-in.
- People arrive at the hotel wearing pyjamas: checking into a hotel in that outfit clearly feels like Belgian surrealism!

The most highly motivated guests can share their pyjamas' photos via social networks, with the #pyjamasnights

This action is valid for the nights from 5 to 8 May 2016 inclusive. The BRUSSELS PYJAMAS’ NIGHTS discount is intended to be exclusive of any other offer, sale, discount or promotion. Participating hotels are free to offer a higher discount, to combine it with other offer, sale, discount or promotion, or to extend it to reservations made through other channels or made before 27 April.

This special action is organised by the Brussels Hotels Association

More info : www.pyjamasnights.com
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Record number of start-ups in Belgium

Record number of start-ups in Belgium | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
The number of start-ups in Belgium last year reached a record high, according to Datanews. The increase is concentrated in the Flemish region.

The figures were presented on Monday during the annual Starters Atlas set up by employer organisations UNIZO and UCM and trade information office Graydon. In total, 82,571 entrepreneurs started their own business in 2015, an increase of 1.8% percent compared to the previous year, and beating the record from 2011 (81,220).

"Belgium has never before had as many start-ups as in 2015," confirms Eric Van den Broele of Graydon. "But the rise can only be seen in Flanders."

The statistics show that the number of start-ups in the Flemish region rose by 4.1% last year, while in Brussels (-0.3%) and Wallonia (-0.1%), there was a slight decline.

"We note that Flanders is always quick to pick up on international economic developments. This has a lot to do with the international nature of the region, thanks in part to the Port of Antwerp," Van den Broele explains. The increase is even more pronounced in Antwerp province (+6.9%).
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Belgium rejects German call for nuclear plants closure

Belgium rejects German call for nuclear plants closure | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it

Belgium on Wednesday rejected a request by neighbouring Germany to shutter two ageing nuclear plants near their shared border, arguing the facilities met with the strictest safety standards.

German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks earlier on Wednesday requested that the 40-year-old Tihange 2 and Doel 3 reactors be turned off “until the resolution of outstanding security issues”.

In response, Belgium’s official nuclear safety agency (AFCN) said the two plants “respond to the strictest possible safety requirements.”

The agency “is always willing to collaborate with their German counterparts... but only as long as a shared willingness to cooperate in a constructive fashion is demonstrated,” it added in a terse statement.


The reactor at Tihange is located just 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the German border, while Doel is about 130 kilometres away, and close to Antwerp. The reactor pressure vessels at both sites have shown signs of metal degradation, raising fears about their safety. They were temporarily closed but resumed service last December. “I believe it is right to temporarily take the plants off-line, at least until further investigations have been completed,” minister Hendricks said in a statement. Such a step would be “a strong precautionary measure” and “would show that Belgium takes the concerns of its German neighbours seriously,” she said. Belgium’s creaking nuclear plants have been causing safety concerns for some time after a series of problems ranging from leaks to cracks and an unsolved sabotage incident. The Doel and Tihange power stations have been in service since 1974-1975, and were scheduled to be shut down in 2015. But the Belgian government in December decided to extend their lives to 2025. Germany - where the public mood swung against nuclear power following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster - decided after Japan’s Fukushima meltdown five years ago to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Germany in early March also demanded that France close down its oldest nuclear plant, Fessenheim, located near the German and Swiss borders, over safety concerns.

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A History Of Belgian Surrealism: More Than Magritte

In its original attempts to unite reality and dreams, the Belgian surrealist movement has made the art history books a million times over. And while its members shared a vision with their contemporaries across the French border, the second biggest surrealist group of the world has become a lesser-known one, except for the resounding name of painter René Magritte. Contrary to popular belief, the shock waves this bewildering new art form would send throughout Belgium from the ’20s onwards were the work of more than one stand-alone genius.
Though French poet André Breton’s 1924 Manifesto of Surrealism marked the official birth of surrealism in ink, the Belgians followed up right after with Correspondence, published that very same year. The brightly colored periodical critiquing the new writings and ideologies fresh out of Paris would know 22 editions over the course of a little more than half a year. The group responsible for the avant-garde views expressed in the stapled together fliers were Camille Goemans, Marcel Lecomte and Paul Nougé.


Before too long, the initial trio attracted kindred spirits in E.L.T. Mesens, Marcel Mariën and, of course, René Magritte. Over drinks in their local Brussels watering hole, La Fleur en Papier Doré – a place welcoming literary and artistic debate up to this day – the gang would discuss the creation of other periodicals to come during the ’20s such as OEsophage, Marie, Distance and Le Disque Vert. Café owner Gerard van Bruaene became a treasured companion while others such as André Souris and artist couple Louis Scutenaire and Irène Hamoir continued to join. While the talents of all of these creatives verged from poetry to music to academia, surrealist tendencies clearly pervaded their works throughout. Reality and the unconscious collided in the creation of weird-looking creatures, illogical and thought-provoking scenes that confounded the spectator and experimental language-games. It is often said that Magritte became a leading figure in surrealist circles only after leaving Brussels for Paris in 1927, effectively ignoring his Belgian origins. What is often overlooked, however, is the fact that the visionary painted almost half of his oeuvre when back at his Brussels home in the peaceful Jette neighborhood after returning in 1930. The answer then as to why Magritte became the only internationally recognized Belgian surrealist – his works now deeply seated in pop culture awareness – while talented contemporaries such as E.L.T. Mesens and Marcel Mariën remain in the shadows, might well lie in the principles of these latter artists...

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Postcard from a Failed State? Attacks Cast Light on Belgium's State Crisis - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Postcard from a Failed State? Attacks Cast Light on Belgium's State Crisis - SPIEGEL ONLINE | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it

With bombs set off in the airport and the subway system, the deadly Islamic State attacks on Brussels have struck the heart of the European Union. Belgium, once the nucleus of Europe, will now have to combat its reputation as a failed state. By SPIEGEL Staff


Bart De Wever doesn't have much faith in his country. In fact, you can hardly call it a country, this artificial construct created sometime in the 19th century as the result of an accident of history, a power struggle among major powers. The centralized Belgian state is "slow, complicated and inefficient," says De Wever, one of the most powerful men in Belgian politics.

He represents a party that went into the last election campaigning for an end to this centralized state, and for an independent Flanders, which it argued would be more viable than Belgium, a broken construct. De Wever heads the strongest party, the conservative right-wing New Flemish Alliance (N-VA). He is not part of the government, but rather the mayor of Antwerp, and yet he knows that people in Belgium pay very close attention to what he says. He's sitting under chandeliers in the Gothic city hall, in a room with dark wooden wall panels. It's a sunny Tuesday in February, four weeks before the Brussels attacks. Salah Abdeslam is still on the run, and police haven't tracked him down in Brussels' Molenbeek neighborhood yet. The government is still searching for the sole surviving Paris attacker but have been unsuccessful so far. The government is trying, but it hasn't turned up much yet. Belgium is receiving poor grades, but so is Europe. De Wever calls German Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy an "epochal mistake," and he complains that integration in Belgium already isn't working today. "This is our problem," he says. "We were unable to offer them a Flemish version of the American dream." His message is that Antwerp is still better off than Brussels, which could be called a cesspool. De Wever likens the way politics is done in Brussels to the manner in which workers renovate the city's crumbling art nouveau buildings: some new wiring here, something patched up there. "Politicians in Belgium often work like craftsmen in old houses: they putter away without any sort of blueprint." De Wever, sitting in his office on a spring day in Antwerp, has little faith in this country. He doesn't know yet that his lack of confidence will later be confirmed in the worst of ways. The attack on Brussels, on March 22, 2016, came from inside the country. More than 31 people died and more than 270 were injured, and the victims included people from more than 40 nations. In the apartment where one of the perpetrators, Ibrahim El Bakraoui, had lived, at Rue Max Roos 4 in the Schaerbeek neighborhood of Brussels, police found about 200 liters of chemicals, detonators, a suitcase full of nails, an Islamic State (IS) flag and 15 kilograms of acetone peroxide, an explosive material. Najim Laachraoui, 24, who also lived there, was apparently a bombmaker of sorts for IS. Forensic investigators found his DNA on two of the explosive belts after the Paris attacks. The two men took a taxi to Brussels' Zaventem Airport, where they allowed no one to touch their luggage. Then, at 7:58 a.m., they blew themselves up. A nail bomb was detonated at Gate B, near the American Airlines ticket counter. Khalid El Bakraoui, 27, Ibrahim's brother, blew himself up in a subway car at the Maelbeek metro station, near the European Commission building. It was 9:11 a.m. The killers chose places of transit, sites where anyone could be targeted. An airport and a metro station are places where everyone goes. No place is safe. Forget it. That was their message. IS Infrastructure in Europe The attacks were delivered four days after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam. Investigators now know that it was a mistake to assume that IS, which claimed responsibility for the attack, favored the "lone wolf" approach. Since the Brussels bombings, it is clear that Islamic State has created its own infrastructure in Europe, under the radar of most intelligence services, cells consisting of first, second and third-tier militants. If the first tier is unable to act, the second tier takes over and prepares the next attack. The Brussels bombers were already involved in the Paris attacks. There were logistics experts who provided them with apartments and weapons, there were explosives experts and there were people who maintained communications with IS in Syria. It's clear that there was a network on which Salah Abdeslam could rely. Documents from the Belgian and French authorities paint a picture of a tightknit group in which everyone protected everyone else, and that made the Belgian security forces look like fools. Salah apparently moved about freely in Molenbeek, where he even went to a barber. The mayor of Molenbeek says there is an "omertà" in the community, a code of silence reminiscent of the Mafia. The groups are part of international networks, and the terrorists had an advantage over security services: They were perfectly in command of cooperation across European national borders. Najim Laachraoui traveled straight across Europe. The authorities had already identified him as a potential threat, and yet he was able to move about freely with forged documents. For instance, the explosives expert of the Belgian terror cell spent the night in Bavaria's Kitzingen district while traveling from Hungary to Belgium in September 2015, together with Salah Abdeslam, the Paris attacker who has since been arrested...

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City of Jihad: How Brussels bombers plotted terror under police noses

City of Jihad: How Brussels bombers plotted terror under police noses | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
Police following the trail of the terrorists behind the atrocities in France and Belgium have repeatedly arrived at a single block of housing in Molenbeek, a district of Brussels known as a hotbed of jihadism.
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10 Quiet Places In Brussels To Escape To

Discover 10 oases of calm in Brussels to unwind and escape from the city's hubbub.

Brussels can be a hectic place. Rush hour, Saturday shopping, the European quarter, the weekly queues. Yet, spots of tranquility can be found right in the busiest, liveliest parts of town. These are no far-away escapes, but rather easily reachable, peaceful nooks slightly hidden from sight or underrated. No need to venture to the outer edges of town to find some bliss of tranquility: Brussels offers plenty of quiet, serene spots where to unwind and relax...

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The Disappearance of the Maison du Peuple or the assassination of Victor Horta | Brussels

The Disappearance of the Maison du Peuple or the assassination of Victor Horta | Brussels | Do you know "Belgium"? ベルギーって言う国知ってますか? | Scoop.it
The ultimate crime of brusselisation was made with the demolition of the Maison du Peuple by Victor. It will forever be remembered as a dark day in the history of architecture...

 

Commandeered to Victor Horta by the Parti ouvrier belge (workers Belgian party), the construction of the Maison du Peuple of Brussels was done between 1896 and 1898. But its inauguration took place on Easter weekend 1989. A flamboyant red parade started at the South Station towards rue Joseph Stevens (Sablon). At the head of the parade was no other than Jean Jaurès, among others, who had come from France specifically to honor this building.


The Party now had a bast meeting place in the center of the city. A place made of glass and steel. The groundfloor was made of shops and cafes; the first floor had offices and the second and third floors had various rooms for various purposes. The big event hall was on the fourth floor. As a true ship of socialist ideology, this room could welcome up to 300 people.

Every big city in Belgium had its "Maison du Peuple", but the one in Brussels was the reference. For its architecture of course, that would once and for all place Victor Horta as a pioneer architect, but also for its atmosphere.

Destruction

Judged unfashioned and threatened by real estate speculation, the Brussels Maison du Peuple was condemned on 30 January 1964. The government had just signed its execution. And by this act was made the ultimate crime of brusselisation. 

It was demolished in 1965 to be replaced with a 26-floor office building that took the name of its entrepreneur: Blaton. The same that made most the works of Horta. A way of reminding everyone that Belgium isn't only the country of compromise, but also of surrealism...

Some of the original pieces of the building can still be found in the Horta metro station in Saint-Gilles....

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