Prague Castle is a castle complex in Prague, Czech Republic, dating from the 9th century. It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic; the castle was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room inside it. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of 70,000 square metres, at about 570 metres in length and an average of about 130 metres wide; the castle is among the most visited tourist attractions in Prague attracting over 1.8 million visitors annually. The history of the castle began in 870 when its first walled building, the Church of the Virgin Mary, was built; the Basilica of Saint George and the Basilica of St. Vitus were founded under the reign of Vratislaus I, Duke of Bohemia and his son St. Wenceslas in the first half of the 10th century; the first convent in Bohemia was founded in the castle, next to the church of St. George.
A Romanesque palace was erected here during the 12th century. King Ottokar II of Bohemia improved fortifications and rebuilt the royal palace for the purposes of representation and housing. In the 14th century, under the reign of Charles IV the royal palace was rebuilt in Gothic style and the castle fortifications were strengthened. In place of rotunda and basilica of St. Vitus began building of a vast Gothic church, that were completed six centuries later. During the Hussite Wars and the following decades, the castle was not inhabited. In 1485, King Ladislaus II Jagello began to rebuild the castle; the massive Vladislav Hall was added to the Royal Palace. New defence towers were built on the north side of the castle. A large fire in 1541 destroyed large parts of the castle. Under the Habsburgs, some new buildings in Renaissance style were added. Ferdinand I built the Belvedere as a summer palace for his wife Anne. Rudolph II used Prague Castle as his main residence, he founded the northern wing of the palace, with the Spanish Hall, where his precious art collections were exhibited.
The Second Defenestration of Prague in 1618 began the Bohemian Revolt. During the subsequent wars, the Castle was dilapidated. Many works from the collection of Rudolph II were looted by Swedes in 1648, in the Battle of Prague, the final act of the Thirty Years' War; the last major rebuilding of the castle was carried out by Empress Maria Theresa in the second half of the 18th century. Following his abdication in 1848, the succession of his nephew, Franz Joseph, to the throne, the former emperor, Ferdinand I, made Prague Castle his home. In 1918, the castle became the seat of the president of the new Czechoslovak Republic, T. G. Masaryk; the New Royal Palace and the gardens were renovated by Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik. In this period the St Vitus Cathedral was finished. Renovations continued in 1936 under Plečnik's successor Pavel Janák. On March 15, 1939, shortly after the Nazi Germany forced Czech President Emil Hacha to hand his nation over to the Germans, Adolf Hitler spent a night in the Prague Castle, "proudly surveying his new possession."
During the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in World War II, Prague Castle became the headquarters of Reinhard Heydrich, the Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. According to a popular rumor, he is said to have placed the Bohemian crown on his head. Less than a year after assuming power, on May 27, 1942, Heydrich was ambushed during Operation Anthropoid, by British-trained Slovak and Czech resistance soldiers while on his way to the Castle, died of his wounds - which became infected - a week later. Klaus, his firstborn son, died the next year in a traffic accident in line with the legend. After the liberation of Czechoslovakia and the coup in 1948, the Castle housed the offices of the communist Czechoslovak government. After Czechoslovakia split in 1993 into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the castle became the seat of the Head of State of the new Czech Republic. Similar to what Masaryk did with Plečnik, president Václav Havel commissioned Bořek Šípek to be the architect of post-communism Prague Castle's necessary improvements, in particular of the facelift of the castle's gallery of paintings.
The castle buildings represent every architectural style of the last millennium. Prague Castle includes Gothic St Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St. George, a monastery and several palaces and defense towers. Most of the castle areas are open to tourists; the castle houses several museums, including the National Gallery collection of Bohemian baroque and mannerism art, exhibition dedicated to Czech history, Toy Museum and the picture gallery of Prague Castle, based on the collection of Rudolph II. The Summer Shakespeare Festival takes place in the courtyard of Burgrave Palace; the neighborhood around Prague Castle is called Hradčany. Katedrála svatého Víta, Václava a Vojtěcha Bazilika svatého Jiří and Klášter svatého Jiří, it is the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle. Chrám Všech svatých Kaple svatého Kříže Starý královský palác Letohrádek královny Anny Lobkovický palác Nový královský palác Sloupová síň Španělský sál Rud
Antwerp is a city in Belgium, is the capital of Antwerp province in Flanders. With a population of 520,504, it is the most populous city proper in Belgium, with 1,200,000 the second largest metropolitan region after Brussels. Antwerp is on the River Scheldt, linked to the North Sea by the river's Westerschelde estuary, it is about 40 kilometres north of Brussels, about 15 kilometres south of the Dutch border. The Port of Antwerp is one of the biggest in the world, ranking second in Europe and within the top 20 globally; the city is known for its diamond industry and trade. Both economically and culturally, Antwerp is and has long been an important city in the Low Countries before and during the Spanish Fury and throughout and after the subsequent Dutch Revolt. Antwerp was the place of the world's oldest stock exchange building built in 1531 and re-built in 1872; the inhabitants of Antwerp are nicknamed Sinjoren, after the Spanish honorific señor or French seigneur, "lord", referring to the Spanish noblemen who ruled the city in the 17th century.
The city hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics. According to folklore, notably celebrated by a statue in front of the town hall, the city got its name from a legend about a giant called Antigoon who lived near the Scheldt river, he extracted a toll from passing boatmen, for those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river. The giant was killed by a young hero named Silvius Brabo, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen, akin to Old English hand and wearpan, which has evolved to today's warp. A longstanding theory is that the name originated in the Gallo-Roman period and comes from the Latin antverpia. Antverpia would come from Ante Verpia, indicating land that forms by deposition in the inside curve of a river. Note that the river Scheldt, before a transition period between 600 and 750, followed a different track; this must have coincided with the current ringway south of the city, situating the city within a former curve of the river.
However, many historians think it unlikely that there was a large settlement which would be named'Antverpia', but more something like an outpost with a river crossing. However, John Lothrop Motley argues, so do a lot of Dutch etymologists and historians, that Antwerp's name derives from "anda" and "werpum" to give an't werf. Aan't werp is possible; this "warp" is a man-made hill or a river deposit, high enough to remain dry at high tide, whereupon a construction could be built that would remain dry. Another word for werp is pol hence polders. Alfred Michiels has suggested that derivations based on hand werpen, Antverpia, "on the wharf", or "at the warp" lack historical backing in the form of recorded past spellings of the placename, he points instead to Dado's Life of St. Eligius from the 7th century, which records the form Andoverpis, he sees in it a Celtic origin indicating "those who live on both banks". Historical Antwerp had its origins in a Gallo-Roman vicus. Excavations carried out in the oldest section near the Scheldt, 1952–1961, produced pottery shards and fragments of glass from mid-2nd century to the end of the 3rd century.
The earliest mention of Antwerp dates from the 4th century. In the 4th century, Antwerp was first named; the Merovingian Antwerp was evangelized by Saint Amand in the 7th century. At the end of the 10th century, the Scheldt became the boundary of the Holy Roman Empire. Antwerp became a margraviate in 980, by the German emperor Otto II, a border province facing the County of Flanders. In the 11th century, the best-known leader of the First Crusade, Godfrey of Bouillon, was Margrave of Antwerp, from 1076 until his death in 1100, though he was also Duke of Lower Lorraine and Defender of the Holy Sepulchre. In the 12th century, Norbert of Xanten established a community of his Premonstratensian canons at St. Michael's Abbey at Caloes. Antwerp was the headquarters of Edward III during his early negotiations with Jacob van Artevelde, his son Lionel, the Duke of Clarence, was born there in 1338. After the silting-up of the Zwin and the consequent decline of Bruges, the city of Antwerp part of the Duchy of Brabant, grew in importance.
At the end of the 15th century the foreign trading houses were transferred from Bruges to Antwerp, the building assigned to the English nation is mentioned in 1510. Antwerp became the sugar capital of Europe, importing the raw commodity from Portuguese and Spanish plantations; the city attracted Italian and German sugar refiners by 1550, shipped their refined product to Germany Cologne. Moneylenders and financiers developed a large business lending money all over Europe including the English government in 1544–1574. London bankers were too small to operate on that scale, Antwerp had a efficient bourse that itself attracted rich bankers from around Europe. After the 1570s, the city's banking business declined: England ended its borrowing in Antwerp in 1574. Fernand Braudel states that Antwerp became "the centre of the entire international economy, something Bruges had never been at its height." Antwerp was the richest city in Europe at this time. Antwerp's golden age is l
Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 14th largest city in the European Union and the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 2.6 million. The city has a temperate climate, with chilly winters. Prague has been a political and economic centre of central Europe complete with a rich history. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic and Baroque eras, Prague was the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, most notably of Charles IV, it was an important city to its Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city played major roles in the Bohemian and Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years' War and in 20th-century history as the capital of Czechoslovakia, during both World Wars and the post-war Communist era. Prague is home to a number of well-known cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe.
Main attractions include Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock, the Jewish Quarter, Petřín hill and Vyšehrad. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites; the city has more than ten major museums, along with numerous theatres, galleries and other historical exhibits. An extensive modern public transportation system connects the city, it is home to a wide range of public and private schools, including Charles University in Prague, the oldest university in Central Europe. Prague is classified as an "Alpha −" global city according to GaWC studies and ranked sixth in the Tripadvisor world list of best destinations in 2016, its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination and as of 2017, the city receives more than 8.5 million international visitors annually. Prague is the fourth most visited European city after London and Rome. During the thousand years of its existence, the city grew from a settlement stretching from Prague Castle in the north to the fort of Vyšehrad in the south, becoming the capital of a modern European country, the Czech Republic, a member state of the European Union.
The region was settled as early as the Paleolithic age. A Jewish chronicler David Solomon Ganz, citing Cyriacus Spangenberg, claimed that the city was founded as Boihaem in c. 1306 BC by an ancient king, Boyya. Around the fifth and fourth century BC, a Celts tribe appeared in the area establishing settlements including an oppidum in Závist, a present-day suburb of Prague, naming the region of Bohemia, which means "home of the Boii people". In the last century BC, the Celts were driven away by Germanic tribes, leading some to place the seat of the Marcomanni king, Maroboduus, in southern Prague in the suburb now called Závist. Around the area where present-day Prague stands, the 2nd century map drawn by Ptolemaios mentioned a Germanic city called Casurgis. In the late 5th century AD, during the great Migration Period following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes living in Bohemia moved westwards and in the 6th century, the Slavic tribes settled the Central Bohemian Region.
In the following three centuries, the Czech tribes built several fortified settlements in the area, most notably in the Šárka valley and Levý Hradec. The construction of what came to be known as Prague Castle began near the end of the 9th century, growing a fortified settlement that existed on the site since the year 800; the first masonry under Prague Castle dates from the year 885 at the latest. The other prominent Prague fort, the Přemyslid fort Vyšehrad, was founded in the 10th century, some 70 years than Prague Castle. Prague Castle is dominated by the cathedral, which began construction in 1344, but wasn't completed until the 20th century; the legendary origins of Prague attribute its foundation to the 8th century Czech duchess and prophetess Libuše and her husband, Přemysl, founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. Legend says that Libuše came out on a rocky cliff high above the Vltava and prophesied: "I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars." She ordered a town called Praha to be built on the site.
The region became the seat of the dukes, kings of Bohemia. Under Holy Roman Emperor Otto II the area became a bishopric in 973; until Prague was elevated to archbishopric in 1344, it was under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Mainz. Prague was an important seat for trading where merchants from all of Europe settled, including many Jews, as recalled in 965 by the Hispano-Jewish merchant and traveller Ibrahim ibn Ya'qub; the Old New Synagogue of 1270 still stands in the city. Prague was once home to an important slave market. At the site of the ford in the Vltava river, King Vladislaus I had the first bridge built in 1170, the Judith Bridge, named in honour of his wife Judith of Thuringia; this bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1342, but some of the original foundation stones of that bridge remain in the river. It was named the Charles Bridge. In 1257, under King Ottokar II, Malá Strana was founded in Prague on the site of an older village in what would become the Hradčany area; this was the district of the German people, who had the right to administer the law autonomously, pursuant to Magdeburg rights.
The new district was on the bank opposite of the Staré Město, which had borough status and was bordered by a line of walls and fortifications. Prague flourished dur
Vienna is the federal capital and largest city of Austria, one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, its cultural and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union; until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC; the city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.
Apart from being regarded as the City of Music because of its musical legacy, Vienna is said to be "The City of Dreams" because it was home to the world's first psychoanalyst – Sigmund Freud. The city's roots lie in early Celtic and Roman settlements that transformed into a Medieval and Baroque city, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it is well known for having played an essential role as a leading European music centre, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. The historic centre of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque castles and gardens, the late-19th-century Ringstraße lined with grand buildings and parks. Vienna is known for its high quality of life. In a 2005 study of 127 world cities, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked the city first for the world's most liveable cities. Between 2011 and 2015, Vienna was ranked second, behind Melbourne. In 2018, it replaced Melbourne as the number one spot. For ten consecutive years, the human-resource-consulting firm Mercer ranked Vienna first in its annual "Quality of Living" survey of hundreds of cities around the world.
Monocle's 2015 "Quality of Life Survey" ranked Vienna second on a list of the top 25 cities in the world "to make a base within."The UN-Habitat classified Vienna as the most prosperous city in the world in 2012/2013. The city was ranked 1st globally for its culture of innovation in 2007 and 2008, sixth globally in the 2014 Innovation Cities Index, which analyzed 162 indicators in covering three areas: culture and markets. Vienna hosts urban planning conferences and is used as a case study by urban planners. Between 2005 and 2010, Vienna was the world's number-one destination for international congresses and conventions, it attracts over 6.8 million tourists a year. The English name Vienna is borrowed from the homonymous Italian version of the city's name or the French Vienne; the etymology of the city's name is still subject to scholarly dispute. Some claim that the name comes from Vedunia, meaning "forest stream", which subsequently produced the Old High German Uuenia, the New High German Wien and its dialectal variant Wean.
Others believe that the name comes from the Roman settlement name of Celtic extraction Vindobona meaning "fair village, white settlement" from Celtic roots, vindo-, meaning "bright" or "fair" – as in the Irish fionn and the Welsh gwyn –, -bona "village, settlement". The Celtic word Vindos may reflect a widespread prehistorical cult of a Celtic God. A variant of this Celtic name could be preserved in the Czech and Polish names of the city and in that of the city's district Wieden; the name of the city in Hungarian, Serbo-Croatian and Ottoman Turkish has a different Slavonic origin, referred to an Avar fort in the area. Slovene-speakers call the city Dunaj, which in other Central European Slavic languages means the Danube River, on which the city stands. Evidence has been found of continuous habitation in the Vienna area since 500 BC, when Celts settled the site on the Danube River. In 15 BC the Romans fortified the frontier city they called Vindobona to guard the empire against Germanic tribes to the north.
Close ties with other Celtic peoples continued through the ages. The Irish monk Saint Colman is buried in Melk Abbey and Saint Fergil served as Bishop of Salzburg for forty years. Irish Benedictines founded twelfth-century monastic settlements. Evidence of these ties persists in the form of Vienna's great Schottenstift monastery, once home to many Irish monks. In 976 Leopold I of Babenberg became count of the Eastern March, a 60-mile district centering on the Danube on the eastern frontier of Bavaria; this initial district grew into the duchy of Austria. Each succeeding Babenberg ruler expanded the march east along the Danube encompassing Vienna and the lands east. In 1145 Duke Henry II Jasomirgott moved the Babenberg family residence from Klosterneuburg in Lower Austria to Vienna. From that time, Vienna remained the center of the Babenberg dynasty. In 1440 Vienna became the resident city of the Habsburg dynasty, it grew to become the de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire in 1437 and a cultural centre for arts and science and fine cuisine.
Hungary occupied the city between 1485 and 1490. In the 16th and 1
Mannerism known as Late Renaissance, is a style in European art that emerged in the years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520, spreading by about 1530 and lasting until about the end of the 16th century in Italy, when the Baroque style replaced it. Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century. Stylistically, Mannerism encompasses a variety of approaches influenced by, reacting to, the harmonious ideals associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and early Michelangelo. Where High Renaissance art emphasizes proportion and ideal beauty, Mannerism exaggerates such qualities resulting in compositions that are asymmetrical or unnaturally elegant; the style is notable for its intellectual sophistication as well as its artificial qualities. It favors compositional tension and instability rather than the balance and clarity of earlier Renaissance painting. Mannerism in literature and music is notable for its florid style and intellectual sophistication; the definition of Mannerism and the phases within it continue to be a subject of debate among art historians.
For example, some scholars have applied the label to certain early modern forms of literature and music of the 16th and 17th centuries. The term is used to refer to some late Gothic painters working in northern Europe from about 1500 to 1530 the Antwerp Mannerists—a group unrelated to the Italian movement. Mannerism has been applied by analogy to the Silver Age of Latin literature; the word mannerism derives from the Italian maniera, meaning "style" or "manner". Like the English word "style", maniera can either indicate a specific type of style or indicate an absolute that needs no qualification. In the second edition of his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters and Architects, Giorgio Vasari used maniera in three different contexts: to discuss an artist's manner or method of working. Vasari was a Mannerist artist, he described the period in which he worked as "la maniera moderna", or the "modern style". James V. Mirollo describes how "bella maniera" poets attempted to surpass in virtuosity the sonnets of Petrarch.
This notion of "bella maniera" suggests that artists who were thus inspired looked to copying and bettering their predecessors, rather than confronting nature directly. In essence, "bella maniera" utilized the best from a number of source materials, synthesizing it into something new; as a stylistic label, "Mannerism" is not defined. It was used by Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt and popularized by German art historians in the early 20th century to categorize the uncategorizable art of the Italian 16th century — art, no longer found to exhibit the harmonious and rational approaches associated with the High Renaissance. “High Renaissance” connoted a period distinguished by harmony and the revival of classical antiquity. The term Mannerist was redefined in 1967 by John Shearman following the exhibition of Mannerist paintings organised by Fritz Grossmann at Manchester City Art Gallery in 1965; the label “Mannerism” was used during the 16th century to comment on social behaviour and to convey a refined virtuoso quality or to signify a certain technique.
However, for writers, such as the 17th-century Gian Pietro Bellori, "la maniera" was a derogatory term for the perceived decline of art after Raphael in the 1530s and 1540s. From the late 19th century on, art historians have used the term to describe art that follows Renaissance classicism and precedes the Baroque, yet historians differ as to whether Mannerism is a movement, or a period. By the end of the High Renaissance, young artists experienced a crisis: it seemed that everything that could be achieved was achieved. No more difficulties, technical or otherwise, remained to be solved; the detailed knowledge of anatomy, light and the way in which humans register emotion in expression and gesture, the innovative use of the human form in figurative composition, the use of the subtle gradation of tone, all had reached near perfection. The young artists needed to find a new goal, they sought new approaches. At this point Mannerism started to emerge; the new style developed between 1510 and 1520 either in Florence, or in Rome, or in both cities simultaneously.
This period has been described as a "natural extension" of the art of Andrea del Sarto and Raphael. Michelangelo developed his own style at an early age, a original one, admired at first often copied and imitated by other artists of the era. One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur, subsequent artists attempted to imitate it. Other artists learned Michelangelo's impassioned and personal style by copying the works of the master, a standard way that students learned to paint and sculpt, his Sistine Chapel ceiling provided examples for them to follow, in particular his representation of collected figures called ignudi and of the Libyan Sibyl, his vestibule to the Laurentian Library, the figures on his Medici tombs, above all his Last Judgment. The Michelangelo was one of the great role models of Mannerism. Young artists stole drawings from him. In his book Lives of the Most Eminent Painters and Architects
Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen
Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, or Jan Mayo, or Barbalonga was a Dutch Northern Renaissance painter. Based on his will, rediscovered in 1998, Vermeyen was born in Beverwijk in 1504. According to Karel van Mander he was honored for his career in the service of Charles V, he was a friend of Jan van Scorel and his portrait was engraved by Jan Wierix for Dominicus Lampsonius. Vermeyen was a painter and tapestry designer a pupil of Jan Gossaert. About 1525 he became court painter to Margaret of Austria, regent of the Netherlands, aunt of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Mechelen. Between 1530 and 1535 he was active in Innsbruck. In 1535 he accompanied the Emperor Charles V, the nephew of the Archduchess, at the Conquest of Tunis, he worked in Spain in 1536. He "designed a set of twelve tapestries commemorating scenes from the campaign that would travel with Charles wherever he went, to bear witness to this triumph." The still existing painting of the Hafsid King of Tunis Moulay Hassan, whom Charles re-instated on his throne after ridding the city of the pirate Hayreddin Barbarossa, was painted by Vermeyen while there.
This journey supplied him with scenes for works, including tapestries designed in 1545/48 for Charles V's sister Regent of Hungary, Mary of Hungary. He died in Brussels. Many portraits are ascribed to him on little evidence, according to modern scholars, he was followed by Jan van Hemessen. Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen on Artnet http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/vermeyen_jan.html Horn, Hendrick. J. Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, painter of Charles V and his conquest of Tunis, Etchings, Drawings and Tapestries, 2 vols. Doornspijk.504 pp. + 340 ills. in b/w and 32 in col. 4to, orig. cloth/d-jacket. Http://www.arcadja.com/auctions/en/vermeyen_jan_cornelisz_/artist/49833/ Ortiz, A.. Resplendence of the Spanish monarchy: Renaissance tapestries and armor from the Patrimonio Nacional. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Media related to Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen at Wikimedia Commons
Brussels the Brussels-Capital Region, is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. Brussels is the most densely populated and the richest region in Belgium in terms of GDP per capita, it covers 161 km2, a small area compared to the two other regions, has a population of 1.2 million. The metropolitan area of Brussels counts over 2.1 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people. Brussels grew from a small rural settlement on the river Senne to become an important city-region in Europe. Since the end of the Second World War, it has been a major centre for international politics and the home of numerous international organisations, politicians and civil servants.
Brussels is the de facto capital of the European Union, as it hosts a number of principal EU institutions, including its administrative-legislative, executive-political, legislative branches and its name is sometimes used metonymically to describe the EU and its institutions. The secretariat of the Benelux and headquarters of NATO are located in Brussels; as the economic capital of Belgium and one of the top financial centres of Western Europe with Euronext Brussels, it is classified as an Alpha global city. Brussels is a hub for rail and air traffic, sometimes earning the moniker "Crossroads of Europe"; the Brussels Metro is the only rapid transit system in Belgium. In addition, both its airport and railway stations are the busiest in the country. Dutch-speaking, Brussels saw a language shift to French from the late 19th century; the Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual in French and Dutch though French is now the de facto main language with over 90% of the population speaking it. Brussels is increasingly becoming multilingual.
English is spoken as a second language by nearly a third of the population and a large number of migrants and expatriates speak other languages. Brussels is known for its cuisine and gastronomy, as well as its historical and architectural landmarks. Main attractions include its historic Grand Place, Manneken Pis and cultural institutions such as La Monnaie and the Museums of Art and History; because of its long tradition of Belgian comics, Brussels is hailed as a capital of the comic strip. The most common theory of the origin of the name Brussels is that it derives from the Old Dutch Bruocsella, Broekzele or Broeksel, meaning "marsh" and "home" or "home in the marsh". Saint Vindicianus, the bishop of Cambrai, made the first recorded reference to the place Brosella in 695, when it was still a hamlet; the names of all the municipalities in the Brussels-Capital Region are of Dutch origin, except for Evere, Celtic. In French, Bruxelles is pronounced and in Dutch, Brussel is pronounced. Inhabitants of Brussels are known in French in Dutch as Brusselaars.
In the Brabantian dialect of Brussels, they are called Brusseleirs. The written x noted the group. In the Belgian French pronunciation as well as in Dutch, the k disappeared and z became s, as reflected in the current Dutch spelling, whereas in the more conservative French form, the spelling remained; the pronunciation in French only dates from the 18th century, but this modification did not affect the traditional Brussels' usage. In France, the pronunciations and are heard, but are rather rare in Belgium. See also: History of Brussels The history of Brussels is linked to that of Western Europe. Traces of human settlement go back to the Stone Age, with vestiges and place-names related to the civilisation of megaliths and standing stones. During late antiquity, the region was home to Roman occupation, as attested by archaeological evidence discovered near the centre. Following the decline of the Western Roman Empire, it was incorporated into the Frankish Empire; the origin of the settlement, to become Brussels lies in Saint Gaugericus' construction of a chapel on an island in the river Senne around 580.
The official founding of Brussels is situated around 979, when Duke Charles of Lower Lotharingia transferred the relics of Saint Gudula from Moorsel to the Saint Gaugericus chapel. Charles would construct the first permanent fortification in the city, doing so on that same island. Lambert I of Leuven, Count of Leuven, gained the County of Brussels around 1000, by marrying Charles' daughter; because of its location on the shores of the Senne, on an important trade route between Bruges and Ghent, Cologne, Brussels became a commercial centre specialised in the textile trade. The town grew quite and extended towards the upper town, where there was a smaller risk of floods; as it grew to a population of around 30,000, the surrounding marshes were drained to allow for further expansion. Around