Brussels, Belgium has established itself since the Second World War as a hub of power, a major centre of global politics. The de facto capital of the European Union, it is home to the EU and NATO headquarters. Almost a third of the Brussels population holds a foreign passport, making Brussels a perfect multinational and multicultural metropolis.
Its inhabitants enjoy a mild climate, low criminality and many green spaces. Indeed, with its parks and squares, Brussels is one of the continent's greenest regions. It also boasts remarkable architecture. The beautiful Grand-Place, a key tourist attraction, is surrounded by a remarkable collection of baroque, Gothic and Louis XVI buildings: as such, it has earned a place on the Unesco World Heritage List. Brussels has a rich architectural legacy. The city is especially known for its Art Nouveau buildings, a style brilliantly represented on the façades of some 500 houses, institutions, cafés and boutiques.
Brussels is divided into 19 municipalities. Surrounded by the 'little belt', a pentagonal ring road, the historic centre is the heart of the city, with its finely worked buildings and its cobbled streets. The Sablon is one of the most sought-after areas, and is famous for its antique dealers and its posh social scene. Artists and gallerists gravitate around this area which leads to the Brussels-Charleroi canal, where former warehouses have been transformed into modern lofts.
The municipalities of Ixelles, Uccle and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre are other destinations of choice for the privileged. Ixelles is home to prized neighbourhoods, including the picturesque area around the Ixelles ponds, which features fine examples of twentieth-century architecture. Uccle draws a stylish international community around small squares and medieval cul-de-sacs. Many homes have vast private gardens. The elegant municipality of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre is a mainly residential area with many parks and gardens. Several embassies are established there.