7+1 facts about Belgium that might surprise you

The Palace of Justice in Brussels

Nestled in the heart of Western Europe, Belgium, has recently reclaimed attention as it assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In essence, this signifies that until June 2024, Belgium will play a crucial role in facilitating harmonious collaboration among the member states of the European Union.

Beyond its renowned chocolates, waffles, and beer, this small but vibrant country hides much more than we may have known. Let’s explore 8 fascinating facts about Belgium together.

1. Belgium’s highest point is lower than the tallest building in the world

Belgium’s highest point, the Signal de Botrange on the High Fens plateau, stands at a modest 694 meters. Surprisingly, it falls short of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, towering at an impressive 828 meters. This comparison highlights Belgium’s shared flat terrain with neighbors like the Netherlands and Luxembourg, historically known as the Low Countries.

2. Brussels Palace of Justice is one of the largest courts in the world

Brussels Palace of Justice, housed in an iconic Greco-Roman-inspired building designed by architect Joseph Poelaert, rank among the world’s largest courts. Constructed between 1866 and 1883, this colossal structure spans approximately 26,000 m², surpassing St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome by 5,000 m² and boasting a façade 50% larger than Buckingham Palace.

3. Belgium boasts the world record for the longest period without a government in history

Belgium has clinched a unique world record for the longest time without a government, lasting a staggering 541 days – surpassing even the turbulence in war-torn Iraq.

4. Belgium claims the title of the global diamond capital

Antwerp, the second-largest city in Belgium, holds the esteemed title of the world’s diamond capital, with over half of the global diamond trade passing through its gates.

5. The term “spa” originates from the Belgian city Spa

The term “spa” is thought to have its roots in the Belgian town of Spa. Renowned for its ancient therapeutic spas, the town drew noble patrons, who subsequently named similar establishments worldwide after it.

6. Belgium reigns as the king of castles

Belgium has the world’s highest concentration of castles per square meter. With nearly 3000 castles, it’s no exaggeration that every Belgian is familiar with at least one in their city.

7. Belgium holds the title of the world’s leading exporter of billiard balls

Belgian billiard balls are renowned for their exceptional durability and quality, making Belgium the source of almost 80% of the world’s billiard balls.

8. Cricket is often regarded as a Belgian invention rather than a British one

There is a growing academic argument suggesting that immigrants from northern Belgium might have introduced cricket to Britain. This claim is supported by a poem from 1533 containing cricket references, predating the first English mentions in the 1600s. As a bonus fact, cricket is immensely popular in India, Australia, and Pakistan, with the Pakistani team ranking among the world’s best – a surprising revelation for many!

The Gravensteen

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