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Introduction

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Brussels, officially the Brussels-Capital Region, is the de facto capital city of the European Union (EU) and the largest urban area in Belgium. It comprises 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels proper, which is the constitutional capital of Belgium, Flanders and the French Community of Belgium.

Brussels has grown from a 10th-century fortress town founded by a descendant of Charlemagne into a metropolis of more than one million inhabitants. The metropolitan area has a population of over 1.8 million, making it the largest in Belgium.

Since the end of the Second World War, Brussels has been an important centre for international politics. The presence of the main EU institutions as well as the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has made the city a polyglot home of many international organisations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants.

Although historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels became increasingly French-speaking over the 19th and 20th centuries. Today a majority of inhabitants are native French-speakers, although both languages have official status. Linguistic tensions remain, and the language laws of the municipalities surrounding Brussels are an issue of much controversy in Belgium.


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Cinquantenaire.jpg
Parc du Cinquantenaire is an urban public park with a complex of 19th century buildings in the easternmost part of the European Quarter of Brussels, Belgium.

The centrepiece of the complex is the by the 1880 triumphal arch, and the horse-shoe shaped buildings surrounding the park esplanade.

The N3 main road and line 1 of the Brussels Metro pass underneath a partly open section in the middle of the park. The nearest metro stations are Schuman, to the west of the park, and Merode, immediately to the east. Under a new plan for refurbishing the complex however, the motorway will be closed, and a new car park will be built under the park, and a new metro station called Cinquantenaire will be built close by.

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