Europe's capital Brussels in a party mood

6th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

6 March 2007, Brussels (dpa) - Brussels has been the capital of Europe for 50 years and to celebrate the jubilee, the city has planned a year-long series of events and exhibitions. Brussels is a cosmopolitan crossroads of culture and styles, but it is probably best known for its most important international vocation as the seat of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU). The district of Etterbeck east of the city centre is a microcosmos of Europe under one roof. The

6 March 2007

Brussels (dpa) - Brussels has been the capital of Europe for 50 years and to celebrate the jubilee, the city has planned a year-long series of events and exhibitions.

Brussels is a cosmopolitan crossroads of culture and styles, but it is probably best known for its most important international vocation as the seat of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU).

The district of Etterbeck east of the city centre is a microcosmos of Europe under one roof. The government officials and representatives who work here look after the interests of 27 states with a total of 480 million citizens, now that Bulgaria and Romania have joined in early 2007.

The offices of these functionaries, sometimes maligned as "Eurocrats", are spread out along a stretch of just over a kilometre in length between Place Luxembourg, Place Jourdan and Robert Schuman Place.

From director to trainees, more than 120,000 of the 970,000 people who live in Brussels depend for their living on the European authorities and their administrative bureaux. Even representatives of leading German federal states such as Bavaria have their place among the "Eurocrats" - as it happens in a handsome building just a stone's throw away from the European Parliament.

All this can be learned by visitors who take a guided walk through the city's EU quarter. Tour guide Sacha Seggai has all the facts and figures at his fingertips, including this one: "The signing of the Treaty of Rome by the leaders of six states - Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - on March 25, 1957 is regarded as having given birth to the European Union." It also marked the inauguration of what used to be called the European Economic Community EEC came into being.

The celebratory year is due to start on March 24 with a spectacular outdoor concert of fanfares and fireworks. Some of the jubilee events run until the end of the year such as an exhibition about the history of the common European currency, the euro. The show entitled "The Euro under the magnifying glass" runs until December 23 at the museum of the National Bank of Belgium opposite St. Michael and St. Gudula's Cathedral. The emphasis will be on the newly- introduced euro in Slovenia and commemorative coin issues.

Further exhibitions include "A look at 19th Century German Art" from March 8 to May 20 at the Museum of Fine Arts. The masterpieces from Berlin, Dresden and Munich depict the European locations visited by such notable painters as Caspar David Friedrich or Carl Spitzweg.

Of particular significance is the European Commission-backed exhibition of works by Leonardo da Vinci which takes place from August 18 until March 16, 2008. Models of Da Vinci's inventions along with sketches and some of his notebooks will be on display at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacré Coeur).

Belgians love comics and the country is home to famous fictional characters such as Tin Tin and the Smurfs. The show "Europeans look at Europeans" in the Belgian comic museum in the Rue des Sables/Zandstraat from June 26 to October 21 features works by cartoonists from throughout Europe who take an amusing and sometimes wry view of their EC neighbours.

"European Day" on May 5 will give visitors a chance to take a look behind the glass facades of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Europe which are not normally open to the general public.

A good place to experience some EU-flair is at the Place Jourdan, where Brussels' famous friture or chip shop "Maison Antoine" offers the deep-fried treats with a choice of 20 different sauces.

There's no need to eat on the street either since many of the pubs and bars in the area have no objections to guests bringing along their own portion of tasty fries. "Frites acceptées" reads the sign above two local pubs, the "Taverne the First" and "Chez Bernard" - an agreeable Belgian solution to what is often a vexed issue elsewhere!

For more information on the festivities, contact the Belgian Tourist Board in Brussels at http://www.visitbelgium.com or write to: Belgian Tourist Office, Town Hall of Brussels, Grand Place B-1000 Brussels. Tel: +32 (0) 2/513-8940.

Details of events at European institutions can be found underwww.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/default_en.htm

DPA

Subject: German news

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