Brussels is a modern city, yet it is rich in strikingly beautiful medieval and art nouveau buildings. It has outstanding museums and galleries and a vibrant cultural life. The heart of the city lies inside a circle of main roads which can easily be explored on foot, by bus, or by tram. For areas outside it, there is an excellent subway system.
Over the centuries, Brussels has been ruled by every major power at or near its boundaries from the Romans to the Spanish to the Germans. Its colonial history provided a fitting prelude to its current status. Brussels has become an international business community composed of diplomats, lobbyists, and euro-politicians connected with NATO and the European Union. The arrival of international business has resulted in blocks lined with steel-and-glass office buildings. However, these modern edifices are only a few steps from the cobbled streets, splendid cafés, and graceful art nouveau architecture that speak to the city's eventful past. Throughout the years Brussels has been a world leader not only in architecture but also in literature, music, dance, painting, sculpture, and of course textiles.