Belgian actor,Jean-Claude Van Damme is best known for a string of martial arts films. He started his career as a karate fighter and competed in a number full-contact and semi-contact matches. Later he took up acting and became a star with the 1988 Hollywood film, Bloodsport. Cyborg, Lionheart, Double Impact and Universal Soldier are some of his notable films.
Peter Paul Rubens is considered the most influential artist of the Flemish Baroque tradition. He lived during the Dutch Golden Age. His style of art emphasized movement, color, and sensuality. He painted altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings and also drew cartoons for the Flemish tapestry workshops. He was a classically educated humanist scholar as well.
Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian football player, is known for his goal-scoring abilities. He plays in the forward position and can also play as a winger. He has scored more than 50 international goals while playing for the men’s national team of Belgium. Inter Milan, Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion, Everton and Manchester United are some of the clubs he has played for.
One of the best Belgian footballers of all time, Eden Hazard is also regarded as one of the best players of the current generation. Thanks to his ability to retain possession among other footballing skills, Hazard is often compared with players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Often described as a complete football player, Kevin De Bruyne is also widely regarded as one of the best players of his generation. Over the years, he has had a major impact on the Manchester City Football Club, helping his team win several games. He is also a key player for the Belgian national football team.
Belgian footballer Thibaut Courtois who is a goalkeeper for the Spanish club Real Madrid is considered one of the best of his time. Starting his career with Genk, he later also played for Chelsea. He was also part of the FIFA World Cup third place-holding Belgian squad in 2018.
Leopold II of Belgium reigned over Belgium as its second king from 1865 to 1909. He also owned the Independent State of the Congo from 1885 to 1908. Congolese people were subjected to torture and murder under Leopold's administration; the term crimes against humanity was coined by George Washington Williams in 1890 to describe the atrocities of Leopold's administration.
Stromae is a Belgian musician, singer, songwriter, and rapper. He achieved popularity with the release of his song Alors on danse in 2009, which topped several music charts in many European countries. He has won several prestigious awards, such as the World Music Awards. Stromae is often promoted as the face of the New Beat generation.
Considered one of the fittest central defenders of the world, retired Belgian footballer Vincent Kompany had a successful stint with Manchester City, winning 4 Premier League titles, among other championships, with them. Post-retirement, the star footballer had turned to coaching and now manages the English club Burnley.
The son of Canadian business tycoon Lawrence Stroll and Belgian designer Claire-Anne Callens, Lance Stroll began his motorsport career with karting at age 10. He became F1’s youngest rookie podium finisher at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. His achievements include wins at the 2014 Italian F4 and the 2016 FIA European Formula 3.
Charles Martel was a Frankish military leader and statesman. From 718 until his death in 741, Martel served as the de facto ruler of Francia. He is credited with restoring centralized government in Francia and re-establishing the Franks as the masters of all Gaul through a series of military campaigns.
Adnan Januzaj is a Belgian football player who plays for the Belgium national team as a midfielder. In 2018, he helped his national team win the bronze medal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Adnan Januzaj is also currently a part of the Sevilla Fútbol Club.
Belgian footballer Michy Batshuayi now plays as a striker for the Turkish club Fenerbahçe. Starting his career with Standard Liège, he later had successful stints with clubs such as Marseille and Chelsea, winning a Premier League and 2 FA Cups with the latter. He also won the Ebony Shoe Award in 2013-14.
Eddy Merckx is a Belgian former road and track bicycle racer. Widely regarded as the most successful rider in competitive cycling history, Merckx achieved several important victories, such as 11 Grand Tours, three World Championships, and all five Monuments. He is also considered the greatest cyclist of all time. After retiring, he coached his national cycling team for 11 years.
Jacques Brel was a Belgian singer, actor, director, and songwriter. He is remembered for composing and performing thoughtful, literate, and theatrical songs. Apart from inspiring French musicians, Brel's works have also had a major influence on English-speaking performers like David Bowie, Scott Walker, Rod McKuen, Marc Almond, and Alex Harvey. Brel is the third-best-selling Belgian music artist of all time.
A Belgian actor, film producer and graffiti artist, Matthias Schoenaerts debuted at the age of 13 and attained star status with his 2008 film Loft. Later, his films Bullhead and Rust and Bone further increased his fame and brought him multiple awards. In 2015, the French Ministry of Culture named him the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Belgian footballer Toby Alderweireld is best known as a defender for Royal Antwerp. Starting his senior career with Ajax, he later also had successful stints with clubs such as Atlético Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur. He was also part of the Belgian squads that played at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup games.
Belgian footballer Jan Vertonghen is best known as a central defender for the club Anderlecht. Starting his senior career with the club Ajax, he has also had successful stints with Tottenham Hotspur and Benfica. He was part of the FIFA World Cup third-place-winning Belgian team in 2018.
Better known by his pseudonym, Hergé, Belgian cartoonist Georges Prosper Remi was the man behind Tintin, a cartoon series that several generations of kids and young adults have grown up reading. He was a self-taught artist and wrote Destination Moon, featuring Tintin, 15 years before Neil Armstrong’s feat.
Georges Lemaître was a mathematician, astronomer, and professor of physics. Lemaître was the first person to theorize that the expansion of the universe can be used to explain the recession of nearby galaxies. In 1927, Lemaître published the first estimation of the Hubble constant. He also came up with the Big Bang theory to explain the origin of the universe.
The inventor of the saxophone, Belgian musician Adolphe Sax, was born to instrument-maker parents who had themselves re-designed the French horn. As a child, he was known as "the ghost" for his frequent brushes with death. He made many other instruments, which were included in the French army bands.
Belgian footballer Dries Mertens, also known as Ciro, is a striker/winger for the Turkish club Galatasaray. Starting his senior career with Gent, he has also represented the Italian club Napoli and the Dutch club Utrecht. He was also part of the FIFA World Cup third-place-winning Belgian squad of 2018.
Renaissance physician Andreas Vesalius is credited with illustrating the first anatomy textbook. Born into a family of physicians, he studied at the University of Paris medical school and often dissected corpses retrieved from cemeteries. He was the first to reject Galenic anatomy and to introduce human dissection in anatomy.
Albert I of Belgium ruled as King of the Belgians for over 25 years from 1909 to 1934. He played a crucial role during World War I, for which he is often referred to as the Soldier King or Knight King in Belgium. A renowned alpinist, Albert died in a mountaineering accident and his death was mourned around the world.
Belgian footballer Radja Nainggolan, who plays as a midfielder for Antwerp, has also played for teams such as Cagliari and Piacenza. He began his football career with Tubantia Borgerhout at age 5. A diverse player, he won the Serie A in 2020-2021 with Inter Milan.
Philip the Handsome, son of Roman emperor Maximilian I, served as the Duke of Burgundy from 1482 to 1506 and then as the first Habsburg King of Castile, as Philip I, in 1506. Also known as the Fair, Philip died of typhoid fever in September 1506, although many suspected poisoning.
Moroccan-born scientist Moncef Slaoui completed his doctoral studies in Belgium and the moved to the US for further research at Harvard. In his career of almost 3 decades at GlaxoSmithKline, he oversaw the development of many vaccines. He later headed Operation Warp Speed, the US government’s initiative to develop COVID-19 vaccines.
British road and track cyclist Bradley Wiggins scripted history by becoming the first British racer to win the Tour de France, in 2012. Though born to Australian track cyclist Gary Wiggins, he was initially a fan of football but turned to cycling after watching the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Retired Belgian footballer Mousa Dembélé was best known as a central midfielder for clubs such as Fulham, AZ, and Tottenham Hotspur. He has also played for the Chinese club Guangzhou City and been part of the FIFA World Cup third-place-winning Belgian team in 2018.
Flemish cartographer of the 16th century, Abraham Ortelius is remembered as the person who created Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the world’s first modern atlas. Starting his career as an engraver, he later switched to map-making. He also served as Spanish king Philip II’s official geographer and proposed the idea of continental drift.
The elder son of King Leopold III of Belgium, Baudouin ruled Belgium for over 4 decades. He is remembered for his impartial treatment of both the Flemish- and French-speaking Belgian factions. He also served as the sovereign of the Belgian Congo and later supported Congolese independence.
Moroccan-origin Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini is a midfielder for the Chinese Super League club Shandong Taishan. Starting his senior career with Standard Liège, he has also played for Everton and Manchester United. He is the son of a footballer who had to become a bus driver due to lack of paperwork.
Belgian physicist and mathematician Joseph Plateau was a pioneer of the modern animation and movie industry, as he invented the phenakistiscope, the world’s first device to create an illusion of motion through images. He also laid down the structure of soap films through Plateau's laws.
Belgian king Leopold III was despised by his countrymen for surrendering Belgium to the Germans during World War II. After being imprisoned by the Germans near Brussels, he went to Austria, and went back to Belgium later, only to be faced by a civil war that forced him to abdicate.
Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons initially gained fame as a furniture designer and later established his own menswear label. Inspired by music and arts, his label has gradually turned its focus to simple silhouettes. He has also been associated with Dior and is now the co-creative director of Prada.
Jacky Ickx is a Belgian retired racing driver best known for winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans on six occasions. He also achieved 25 podium finishes and eight wins in F1. Jacky Ickx is also known for his association with Scuderia Ferrari as he was the leading driver for the team for several seasons in the 1960s and 1970s.
The son of Brazilian footballer Marcos Pereira, Andreas Pereira is a fine midfielder in his own right and plays for Fulham. The Belgian-born footballer started his senior career with the club Manchester United. While he initially represented the youth teams of both Belgium and Brazil, he later joined the Brazilian senior national team.
Nacer Chadli is a Belgian football player who plays as a midfielder for the Belgium national team. In 2018, he helped his nation win the bronze medal at the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Nacer Chadli also represented Belgium at the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship. A versatile midfielder, Nacer Chadli has also played for popular clubs like Tottenham Hotspur.
Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish Baroque artist who started painting at an early age before going on to become the leading court painter in England. Although he is best remembered for painting the aristocracy, van Dyck also painted biblical and mythological subjects. In 1632, Anthony van Dyck received a knighthood from Charles I.
Georges Simenon was a Belgian writer who published nearly 500 novels during his illustrious career that spanned several years. Simenon is credited with creating one of the most popular fictional detectives of all time, Jules Maigret. A self-proclaimed Casanova, Simenon claimed in 1977 to have had sex with 10,000 women since his 13th birthday.