Belgian

People who have never been to Belgium will joke that nobody can name even five famous Belgians. Or quip how trite the Belgians are? That besides beer and mussels, there is nothing more to add to Belgium’s portfolio. But the truth is that Belgium, with its remarkable history of art, over 60 UNESCO sites, world-famous carnival celebrations and a wad of peerless men and women, is not half as lackluster and lacking in talent as the world deems. Not the one to blow its own trumpet, Belgium has never ever overplayed its greatness. No wonder most of us did not know that distinguished talents like Hollywood heartthrobs Audrey Hepburn and Jean Claude van Damme, world famous baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens, Tin Tin's creator Georges Remi, tennis star Kim Clijsters, bacteriologist Jules Bordet, and noted fashion designer Liz Claiborne are all Belgians. Surprised? Join us as we dig deep into the lives and deeds of many such famous Belgians in the biographies presented below, exploring their timeline, trivia and lesser-known facts on the way.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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Jean-Claude Van Damme
44
Birthdate: October 18, 1960
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sint-Agatha-Berchem, Belgium

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.

 2 
Max Verstappen
(Racing driver)

Max Verstappen
38
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: September 30, 1997
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hasselt, Flanders, Belgium

Rene Magritte
4
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: November 21, 1898
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lessines, Belgium
Died: August 15, 1967
Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte is remembered for his art that displayed alternate perceptions of reality. His creations were influenced by elements of pop art and minimalist art. Some of his most notable works were The Empire of Light and Les Amants. The Magritte Museum is dedicated to his work.
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Peter Paul Rubens
3
Birthdate: June 8, 1577
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Siegen, Germany
Died: May 30, 1640

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.

 5 
Romelu Lukaku
(Football Player)

Romelu Lukaku
39
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 13, 1993
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium

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.

 6 
Eden Hazard
(Football player)

Eden Hazard
21
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 13, 1993, 1991
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: La Louvière, Belgium

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.

 7 
Kevin De Bruyne
(Football Player)

Kevin De Bruyne
19
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: June 28, 1991
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Drongen, Ghent, Belgium

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.

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 8 
Thibaut Courtois
(Footballer)

Thibaut Courtois
7
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 11, 1992
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bree, Flanders, Belgium

 9 
Stromae
(Rapper)

Stromae
11
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: March 12, 1985
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Etterbeek, Brussels, Belgium

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.

 10 
Leopold II of Belgium
(King of the Belgians (1865-1909))

Leopold II of Belgium
15
Birthdate: April 9, 1835
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: December 17, 1909

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.

 11 
Vincent Kompany
(Footballer centre-back)

Vincent Kompany
5
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: April 10, 1986
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Uccle, Belgium

 12 
Lance Stroll
(Racing driver)

Lance Stroll
7
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: October 29, 1998
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

 13 
Michy Batshuayi
(Association football player)

Michy Batshuayi
3
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: October 2, 1993
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brussels

 14 
Adnan Januzaj
(Footballer Winger, attacking midfielder)

Adnan Januzaj
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: February 5, 1995
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium

 15 
Matthias Schoenaerts
(Actor role in the drama Bullhead, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign film in 2011)

Matthias Schoenaerts
2
Birthdate: December 8, 1977
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium

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. 

 16 
Charles Martel
(Military Leader)

Charles Martel
5
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0686 AD
Birthplace: Herstal
Died: October 22, 0741

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.

 17 
Joanna of Castile
(Queen of Aragon)

Joanna of Castile
1
Birthdate: November 6, 1479
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Toledo, Spain
Died: April 12, 1555
Joanna, the 16th-century queen of Castile and Aragon, also known as "Joanna the Mad," was declared insane and locked up at the Royal Convent of Santa Clara by her father. Following her father’s death, she nominally co-ruled the kingdom with her son, Charles I, but remained imprisoned till her death.

 18 
Divock Origi
(Association football player)

Divock Origi
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: April 18, 1995
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ostend

 19 
Jacques Brel
(Actor & One of the Best-Selling Belgian Recording Artists of All Time)

Jacques Brel
5
Birthdate: April 8, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Schaerbeek, Belgium
Died: October 9, 1978

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.

 20 
Toby Alderweireld
(Football player)

Toby Alderweireld
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: March 2, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium
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Eddy Merckx
(Cyclist)

Eddy Merckx
4
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: June 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Meensel-Kiezegem, Tielt-Winge

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.

 22 
Jan Vertonghen
(Association football player)

Jan Vertonghen
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: April 24, 1987
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sint-Niklaas, Belgium

 23 
Dries Mertens
(Association football player)

Dries Mertens
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 6, 1987
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Leuven

 24 
Hergé
(Cartoonist (Creator of Tintin))

Hergé
0
Birthdate: May 22, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Etterbeek, Belgium
Died: March 3, 1983

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.

 25 
Youri Tielemans
(Association football player)

Youri Tielemans
7
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 7, 1997
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sint-Pieters-Leeuw

 26 
Justine Henin
(Tennis player)

Justine Henin
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: June 1, 1982
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Liège, Belgium

 27 
Georges Lemaître
(Scientist & Priest)

Georges Lemaître
1
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: July 17, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Charleroi, Belgium
Died: June 20, 1966

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.

 28 
Adolphe Sax
(Inventor of Saxophone)

Adolphe Sax
2
Birthdate: November 6, 1814
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dinant
Died: February 7, 1894

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.

 29 
Radja Nainggolan
(Association football player)

Radja Nainggolan
4
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 4, 1988
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium

 30 
Andreas Vesalius
(Founding Father of the Modern Human Anatomy)

Andreas Vesalius
4
Listed In: Physicians
Birthdate: December 31, 1514
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: October 15, 1564

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.

 31 
Albert I of Belgium
(King of the Belgians (1902-1934))

Albert I of Belgium
6
Birthdate: April 8, 1875
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: February 17, 1934

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.

 32 
John of Gaunt
(Nobleman)

John of Gaunt
0
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: March 6, 1340
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ghent, Belgium
Died: February 3, 1399

John of Gaunt was an English prince, statesman, and military leader. An influential figure, John of Gaunt is credited with founding the royal House of Lancaster, which would later produce men to ascend the royal throne. Early in his career, John spent considerable time in Spain participating in the Hundred Years' War.

 33 
Philip I of Castile
(King of Castile)

Philip I of Castile
2
Birthdate: July 22, 1478
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bruges, Belgium
Died: September 25, 1506

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.

 34 
Moncef Slaoui
(Who served as the Head of Operation Warp Speed)

Moncef Slaoui
0
Birthdate: July 22, 1959
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Agadir, Morocco

 35 
Leopold I of Belgium
(First King of the Belgians (1831-1865))

Leopold I of Belgium
3
Birthdate: December 16, 1790
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Coburg, Germany
Died: December 10, 1865
Leopold I, the youngest son of Duke Francis of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, was the first king of Belgium and reigned from 1831 to 1865. He fought against Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars. He rejected the throne of Greece. His reign is known for establishing Belgium's first railway and for its modernization.

 36 
Yannick Ferreira Carrasco
(Footballer winger and wing-back)

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: September 4, 1993
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vilvoorde, Belgium

 37 
Lara Fabian
(One of the Best-Selling Belgian Female Artists of All Time)

Lara Fabian
3
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: January 9, 1970
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Etterbeek, Belgium

Lara Fabian is a Canadian-Belgian musician, singer, songwriter, and actress. One of the best-selling Belgian music artists ever, Fabian has sold more than 20 million records all over the world. Over the course of her career, she has won many prestigious awards, such as Félix Awards and World Music Awards.

 38 
Diane von Fürstenberg
(Fashion designer)

Diane von Fürstenberg
4
Listed In: Fashion
Birthdate: December 31, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium

 39 
Bradley Wiggins
(Track cyclist, Sport cyclist)

Bradley Wiggins
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: April 28, 1980
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ghent

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.  

 40 

Cécile de France
0
Birthdate: July 17, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Namur, Belgium

Cécile de France is a Belgian actress who achieved international prominence for her performance in films like High Tension and Hereafter. One of the most celebrated and popular Belgian actresses of her generation, Cécile de France has won many prestigious awards including two César Awards and multiple Magritte Award nominations.

 41 
Marouane Fellaini
(Football - Midfielder for Belgium)

Marouane Fellaini
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: November 22, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Etterbeek, Belgium

 42 
Baudouin of Belgium
(King of the Belgians)

Baudouin of Belgium
0
Birthdate: September 7, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Château du Stuyvenberg, Brussels, Belgium
Died: July 31, 1993

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.

 43 
Raf Simons
(Fashion Designer)

Raf Simons
0
Listed In: Fashion
Birthdate: January 12, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Neerpelt, Pelt, Belgium

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.

 44 
Joseph Plateau
(Mathematician, Physicist, Scientist)

Joseph Plateau
1
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: October 14, 1801
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brussels
Died: September 15, 1883

 45 
Andreas Pereira
(Footballer midfielder)

Andreas Pereira
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: January 1, 1996
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Duffel, Belgium

 46 
Mary of Burgundy
(Duchess of Burgundy)

Mary of Burgundy
2
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: February 13, 1457
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: March 27, 1482

As Charles the Bold’s daughter, Mary of Burgundy, was also known as Mary the Rich, for her affluence. While she had a fairy-tale marriage with Archduke Maximilian of Austria and had two children, she died abruptly at age 25, after being thrown from her horse during a hunting trip.

Princess Delphine of Belgium
2
Birthdate: February 22, 1968
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Uccle, Brussels, Belgium

With a background as colorful as her art, Princess Delphine of Belgium was known as Jonkvrouw Delphine Boël before she won paternity suit against King Albert II of Belgium and became recognized as his daughter, winning princely title for herself and her children. An established artist in her own right, she continues to create art, promoting its use in healthcare.  

 48 

Mehdi Dehbi
0
Birthdate: December 5, 1985
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Liège, Belgium

Belgian actor and theatre director Mehdi Dehbi is best known for his acting in films The Other Son, Mary Queen of Scots and A Most Wanted Man. In recent times, he starred in the lead role in the Netflix thriller series Messiah. He has also performed in stage plays and has also directed a play titled Les Justes.

 49 

Michel Qissi
2
Birthdate: September 12, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oujda, Morocco

Michel Qissi is a Moroccan-Belgian actor who achieved fame for his portrayal of Tong Po in the popular 1989 American martial arts film, Kickboxer. An exponent of boxing, Shōtōkan Karate, kickboxing, and Muay Thai, Qissi is known for his collaboration with Jean-Claude van Damme, whom he befriended at an early age.

 50 

Anthony van Dyck
1
Birthdate: March 22, 1599
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium
Died: December 9, 1641

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.