Brussels is all of Europe in one city. Not simply one style or era, but all styles and eras. The medieval and the Renaissance. The Austrian neo-classic and the Spanish flamboyant. The French 19th century and the modern skyscraper. The accents and tones, in the very sounds that you hear, of both the Latin-influenced languages of Europe (here, the French) and the Germanic strains (here, the Flemish, or Dutch)—a rare, bi-lingual city.

And not only do you see all of Europe here, and hear much of Europe here, but the very people that you meet—in a metropolis where 30 percent of the population is foreign—are from every corner of Europe, mixing and mingling in a setting that was always a crossroads for both invasions and trade. Brussels is not simply the nominal capital of Europe, it is fast becoming the true capital of Europe, and shows that status in a hundred, intriguing ways.

You may have learned of its richest sights before now. They include the grandest of all the great City Squares. And restaurants so numerous as to make you dizzy. And subways decorated with modern art. And great museums of art. And open-air markets of antiques and foods, of secondhand fashions and leather-bound books…and “chocolatiers”…and bakers of pastries sublime …and beery cafes.

Brussels is all of these . . . but it is more. It is Bruges. And it is Ghent. And it is Antwerp and Liege. And Mons. And Tournai. Because Brussels is also a hub, a base for short day excursions, a metropolis so centrally located that the lures and attractions of a dozen other great cities are also the attractions of remarkable Brussels.