I strongly recommend a visit, as the different currents of contemporary Europe swirl together here like nowhere else. You can see high culture, high taxes, dysfunctional governance, bickering linguistic groups, EU bureaucrats, tourists, Art Nouveau, Turks and Moroccans, and cops carrying submachine guns, all within minutes of each other. It is cheaper than most other major European cities, and has excellent architecture, art, and food, including ethnic food and some of the continent’s best African food (try Resto Bar Tam-Tam).
Unlike in Paris, the immigrant neighborhoods are often no more than a ten or fifteen minute walk from the major non-immigrant neighborhoods. That is the geographic feature which gives Brussels its special feel. Here are my notes on Molenbeek, a short stroll from city center.
The area near the European Commission reminds me of the part of Washington with the World Bank and IMF. Hard to believe, I know.
I don’t find the chocolate here better than in say France, but Brussels does show that chocolate competition lowers prices.
Here is Ian Buruma on Brussels.