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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 1 Jean-Claude Van Damme

Jean-Claude Van Damme
35
Famous As: Actor
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

Max Verstappen
25
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Racing driver
Birthdate: September 30, 1997
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hasselt, Flanders, Belgium

 3 Gotye

Gotye
5
Listed In: Singers
Famous As: Multi-instrumentalist
Birthdate: May 21, 1980
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bruges, Belgium
Belgian-born Australian singer Gotye initially formed the indie-pop group The Basics. The three-time Grammy-winning artist has also had a successful solo career and is best known for his Billboard-topping track Somebody That I Used to Know, which made him the fifth Australian artist to top the Billboard charts.
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 4 Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte
3
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.

 5 Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard
8
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: January 7, 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.

 6 Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku
27
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Football Player
Birthdate: May 13, 1993
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Antwerp

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.

 7 Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens
0
Famous As: Painter & Printmaker
Birthdate: June 28, 1577
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Siegen, Nassau-Dillenburg (now North Rhine-Westphalia, 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.

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 8 Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne
6
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: June 28, 1991
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ghent

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.

 9 Johnny Galecki

Johnny Galecki
14
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 30, 1975
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bree

Johnny Galecki’s role as Leonard Hofstadter in CBS’s The Big Bang Theory led to Forbes declaring him as the world's second highest-paid TV actor in 2018. He is also known to his fans as David Healy from Roseanne and is a fan favorite for his effortless performances in sitcoms.

 10 Thibaut Courtois

Thibaut Courtois
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: May 11, 1992
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bree, Flanders, Belgium

 11 Leopold II of Belgium

Leopold II of Belgium
7
Famous As: King of the Belgians (1865-1909)
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.

 12 Stromae

Stromae
1
Listed In: Singers
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: March 12, 1985
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Etterbeek, Brussels

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.

 13 Clovis I

Clovis I
0
Famous As: First king of the Franks to unite all of the Frankish tribes under one ruler.
Birthdate: 0466 AD
Birthplace: Tournai (present-day Belgium)
Died: November 27, 0511

Clovis I, regarded as the founder of the Merovingian dynasty, united the Frankish tribes under one leader and thus transformed the leadership system which had previously been based on leadership by a group of chieftains. His conversion to Catholicism led to widespread conversion among the Frankish people.

 14 Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll
4
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Racing driver
Birthdate: October 29, 1998
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

 15 Michy Batshuayi

Michy Batshuayi
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: October 2, 1993
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brussels

 16 Charles Martel

Charles Martel
2
Listed In: Leaders
Famous As: Military Leader
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 Adnan Januzaj

Adnan Januzaj
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: February 5, 1995
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brussels

 18 Diane von Fürstenberg

Diane von Fürstenberg
2
Listed In: Fashion
Famous As: Fashion designer
Birthdate: December 31, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium

 19 Joanna of Castile

Joanna of Castile
0
Famous As: Queen of Aragon
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.

 20 Vincent Kompany

Vincent Kompany
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: April 10, 1986
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Uccle

 21 Marouane Fellaini

Marouane Fellaini
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Football player
Birthdate: November 22, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Etterbeek, Belgium

 22 Eddy Merckx

Eddy Merckx
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Cyclist
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.

 23 Jacques Brel

Jacques Brel
2
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
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.

 24 Radja Nainggolan

Radja Nainggolan
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: May 4, 1988
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium

 25 Dries Mertens

Dries Mertens
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: May 6, 1987
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Leuven

 26 Leopold I of Belgium

Leopold I of Belgium
1
Famous As: First King of the Belgians (1831-1865)
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.

 27 Philippe of Belgium

Philippe of Belgium
0
Famous As: King of Belgium
Birthdate: April 15, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium

 28 Adolphe Sax

Adolphe Sax
0
Famous As: Inventor of Saxophone
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 Georges Lemaître

Georges Lemaître
0
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Famous As: Scientist & Priest
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.

 30 Youri Tielemans

Youri Tielemans
4
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: May 7, 1997
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sint-Pieters-Leeuw

 31 Hergé

Hergé
0
Famous As: Cartoonist (Creator of Tintin)
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.

 32 Toby Alderweireld

Toby Alderweireld
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Football player
Birthdate: March 2, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium

 33 Jan Vertonghen

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

 34 Andreas Vesalius

Andreas Vesalius
2
Listed In: Physicians
Famous As: Founding Father of the Modern Human Anatomy
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.

 35 Kim Clijsters

Kim Clijsters
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Tennis player
Birthdate: June 8, 1983
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bilzen, Belgium

 36 Matthias Schoenaerts

Matthias Schoenaerts
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 8, 1977
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Antwerp

 37 Marc Dutroux

Marc Dutroux
3
Famous As: Criminal, Electrician, Serial killer
Birthdate: November 6, 1956
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ixelles / Elsene

 38 Mousa Dembélé

Mousa Dembélé
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Football player
Birthdate: July 16, 1987
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wilrijk, Belgium

 39 Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Track cyclist, Sport cyclist
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 Philip I of Castile

Philip I of Castile
2
Famous As: King of Castile
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.

 41 Divock Origi

Divock Origi
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: April 18, 1995
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ostend

 42 John of Gaunt

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

 43 Lara Fabian

Lara Fabian
1
Listed In: Singers
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
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.

 44 Yannick Ferreira Carrasco

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: September 4, 1993
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tepito

 45 Justine Henin

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

 46 Cécile de France

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

 47 Baudouin of Belgium

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

 48 Joseph Plateau

Joseph Plateau
0
Listed In: Scientists
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Scientist
Birthdate: October 14, 1801
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brussels
Died: September 15, 1883

 49 Moncef Slaoui

Moncef Slaoui
0
Famous As: Who served as the Head of Operation Warp Speed
Birthdate: July 22, 1959
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Agadir, Morocco

 50 Raf Simons

Raf Simons
0
Listed In: Fashion
Famous As: Fashion Designer
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.