So you’re all settled in Belgium and have made some Belgian friends. Would you like to impress them on a casual trivia night, with facts from their own country no less? Here’s a list of curious Belgium-related things you did not know about!
1. Audrey Hepburn was born in Brussels
The epitome of elegance and one of the most iconic Hollywood stars of the last century, Hepburn captivated (and still does) many a cinephile. Just like her birthplace–Brussels’ multilingual and multicultural identity, she was a polyglot fluent in at least 6 languages. Though she was active mostly in the US and held a British passport, her background was extremely pan-European, so it is quite difficult to pinpoint in a few words what nationality or ethnicity she belonged to, really. Please do your Google search if you’re really curious!
2. Belgium holds the world record for the longest period without a government
I’m sure this one will ring a bell if you follow the news. The world record for a democratic nation to be without an elected government is held by Belgium, which lasted for 589 days in 2010-11. Following national elections, the opposing Flemish and Walloon regions were unable to agree on policy issues and form a governing coalition. To think Brussels governed Europe at the time without having a proper government in their own country!
3. Belgium produces more than 220,000 tons of chocolate per annum
This one also goes without saying… Check out our article on the 5 best chocolatiers in Brussels! Tell us which ones we’ve missed and chocolatiers in other Belgian cities.
4. The Zaventem airport is the place where chocolate is being sold the most in the world
Related to the previous point, did you know that Brussels’ airport has the highest number of chocolate sales in the world? On average, 1.6 kg of chocolate is being sold per minute! Impressive, isn’t it?
5. Robert Cailliau, co-inventor of the World Wide Web, is a Belgian
Most of us know that the World Wide Web was developed in CERN in Switzerland. What we don’t normally know is by whom–it’s actually by an English scientist called Tim Berners-Lee. But did you know that it wouldn’t have been possible had he not received help from his Belgian colleague Cailliau? Well, thanks to them, you’re reading this!
6. The “Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was written in Brussels
The (in)famous German philosopher Karl Marx lived in Brussels in 1845–1847, joined by his collaborator Engels. They drafted and published the Communist Manifesto almost entirely in Brussels. If you visit Brussels, you cannot miss the restaurant Le Cygne located in the Grand-Place where Marx wrote his famous work.
7. The French-Belgians are prolific comic creators
You have surely heard of, read or watched animated or film adaptations of the Smurfs, Spirou and Fantasio, Tintin, Asterix, Blake and Mortimer, Thorgal, Gaston… the list is endless. Perhaps more than half of your childhood came from Belgium!
8. In the 1970s, light beer was served during school lunch
We all know Belgians love their beers, so something like this shouldn’t surprise us, right? In traditional Belgian culture, it was acceptable for everyone, including children, to drink a kind of light, ‘table beer’ as they drank their water and coffee. In fact, it was the norm until the 1970s, but it was eventually replaced by water and soft drinks. In the 21st century, many organizations tried to reinstate this custom citing that it is healthier than many types of soft drinks including juices which cause diabetes, cancer and all sorts of illness. For example, in 2001, a Flemish beer lovers’ club asked around 30 Belgian schools to change their fizzy drinks to this tafelbier or bière de table, beer with low-alcohol content (lower than 1.5%). Will it make a complete comeback? Only time will tell.
Anything else interesting we’ve missed? Let us know by leaving us a comment!
For more on tips on Brussels, check out this Brussels Hipster City Guide. And also check out our previous posts: Mini-guide to Eating and Drinking in Brussels, 5 Best Chocolatiers in Brussels & Top 5 Bars in Brussels for Beer Fans!
Now that you know all about Belgium’s trivia, are you ready to move to Brussels? We can help!
Spotahome offers hundreds of spacious and personally-checked rooms, studios and apartments all over Brussels, so you can book your perfect home online before you even arrive in the city. Check out all our available houses in Brussels on our interactive map here and feel free to get in touch with us. We’d be happy to hear from you!
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