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Benelux

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Europe : Benelux
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Benelux is an economic union comprising three neighbouring monarchies, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The name is formed from the beginning of each country's name. It is a precursor of the European Union.

Contents

Countries[edit]

The Benelux countries
Netherlands
Belgium
Luxembourg

Cities[edit]

  • Amsterdam — traveller magnet due to its impressive architecture, lovely canals (grachten), museums and liberal attitudes
  • Antwerp — a giant cathedral, medieval streets and artistic heritage
  • Brussels — unofficial capital of the EU with a nice historic centre and several museums
  • Bruges — one of Europe's wealthiest cities in the 14th century, its large and beautiful historic centre remains
  • Liège — largest city of Wallonia, along a wide river, industrial cityscape with hiking and resorts in the nearby hills
  • Luxembourg — capital of Luxembourg, its spectacular valleys and plateaus led it to be nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the North"
  • Rotterdam — modern architecture, good nightlife and the largest port of Europe
  • The Hague — seat of government, royal family, judicial capital of the world and Madurodam
  • Utrecht — historic center, nice antique stores and the Rietveld-Schröder House

Other destinations[edit]

  • Ardennes — the most sparsely populated in Benelux, this is a hilly countryside region covered with forests
  • Binche — for three days in February, the town is transported back to the 16th century for one of the most fantastic carnival festivals
  • West Frisian Islands - These islands (Wadden Eilanden) in the north of the Netherlands are well worth a visit for their beaches and their natural beauty.
  • Hoge Veluwe National Park — largest national park with heathlands, sand dunes and woodlands
  • Keukenhof — millions of tourists visit these enormous flower fields each Spring
  • Kinderdijk — these windmills show the typical Dutch landscape in all its glory
  • Pajottenland — an area of green fields and small villages, some of which have been portrayed by artists such as Pieter Bruegel
  • Schokland — old island evacuated in 1859, a well-preserved ghost village remains
  • Vianden — quaint small town presided over by a rather splendid château
  • Waterloo Battlefield — the Waterloo Battlefield where Napoleon lost the final battle that changed Europe's face forever

Understand[edit]

Luxembourg and the East of Belgium is a hilly area, but the rest of the area is what is known as the the Low Countries; this is the delta of the rivers Scheldt, Meuse, Rhine and Ems. Originally swamp land, enterprising fishermen discovered a flair for trade when trading routes started to emerge between the grain markets of the Baltic Sea and the renaissance-bitten luxury goods markets of northern Italy. Here is where stocks were invented.

This attention to trade made Bruges one of the largest cities in Europe in its day, and the mediaeval town is still well preserved. When the secession war with Spain progressed, French and Flemish alike fled to Amsterdam, which became the new world capital of trade, which is still witnessed in the many 'Houses of the Lords' lining the famous canals.

Talk[edit]

Dutch is the main language in the Netherlands and in the north of Belgium (Flanders) where it is also known as Flemish, and is also spoken (by about 15% of the people) in bilingual Brussels. French is the main language (85%) in Brussels, and in all of the south of Belgium (Wallonia) with the exception of the eastern side of Wallonia where you will find the Belgian German speaking community. In Belgium, while most Dutch speakers can speak reasonable French, few Belgian francophones speak Dutch, which has caused political tension in the country. Luxembourg has three official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German, but for all practical purposes French is the most important language for travelers. Many people, especially in the Netherlands and Flanders (Northern Belgium), can speak English. This is considered to be because of english subjects at a young age, and television and movies, which are shown in their original languages with subtitles. Especially when you go to Wallonia, where TV is dubbed into French, people are not so good at speaking English. Frisian is a minority language spoken in Friesland (Netherlands).

Get in[edit]

Most people get into the Benelux region by plane or train. Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and Zaventem Airport in Brussels are the largest airports in the region; Schiphol is also important as a transfer airport for further destinations in Europe. Smaller regional airports are present in Antwerp, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Charleroi(Brussels South) and Rotterdam, which are mostly used by low-cost carrier airlines.

High-speed rail networks connect the Benelux with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. High-speed trains operated by Thalys [1] connect Paris with Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam in a little more than three hours. Slower Intercity trains connect Amsterdam with Berlin, Cologne, and Frankfurt in Germany.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Much of the swamp land in the Low Countries has been reclaimed, resulting in some of the largest water works in the world, such as the Delta Works, and in other attractions such as the windmills of Kinderdijk in South Holland. Much has not been reclaimed, resulting in interesting biotopes, such as the Zwin on the North Sea Coast of Belgium and the area around the Wadden Sea in the North of the Netherlands.

  • Look at some of the region's historic cities, including, but not limited to, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Bruges, Delft, Ghent, and Maastricht
  • Brussels is the so-called capital of the European Union; take a wander through the European Quarter with its modern architecture
  • The Netherlands has a bewildering amount of art museums—at least chip in the Museum Quarter in Amsterdam
  • Cheese markets are a big thing in Holland—Alkmaar, Edam, and Gouda have them
  • More Dutch stereotypes are to be found elsewhere; windmills in Zaanse Schans, tulips in the Keukenhof, and flat polders in the Green Heart
  • Flanders has many beguinages and belfries—a total of 46 have been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List
  • The Delta Works, one of the most technologically advanced projects in the world, give an insight in the Dutch' centuries-long battle against the sea
  • So, what to see in Luxembourg? Try its capital of the name, with a splendid location high on a cliff, or Vianden, a tourist favourite with its stunning mediaeval Beaufort Castle.

Do[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Try Moules et frites (Mosselen met frieten)- Belgium's answer to fish and chips.
  • Try speculaas, the famous Belgian cookies.
  • Belgian chocolate is some of the best on the planet.
  • Eat the Dutch almond fingers, rich with sugar and marzipan.
  • Eat stroopwafels.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Try the famous Belgian brewed beers!

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

Possible day-trips include the historic cities of Lille and Aachen, that are just over the border in respectively France and Germany. Many Europe-trippers take the train to Berlin with a possible de-tour of Quedlinburg on the way.



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