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.
14
Famous As: Martial Artist & Actor
Birthdate: October 18, 1960
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sint-Agatha-Berchem

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 Tony Parker

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
4
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: May 17, 1982
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bruges

Tony Parker is a French-American former basketball player. During his playing career, he helped the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA win four NBA championships. He currently plays a major role in France's professional basketball league 'LNB Pro A' where he owns one of the league's team, ASVEL Basket. Also a philanthropist, Parker serves as the ambassador for Make-A-Wish France.

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 3 Eden Hazard

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
3
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.

 4 Romelu Lukaku

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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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.

 5 Kevin De Bruyne

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
4
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.

 6 Johnny Galecki

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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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.

 7 Giacomo Puccini

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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Listed In: Musicians
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: December 22, 1858
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lucca
Died: November 29, 1924

Born into a musical dynasty, composer Giacomo Puccini lost his father at age 5. Some of his best opera pieces include Madama Butterfly and La Bohème. The suicide of his maid, who was wrongly accused by his wife of being in an affair with him, affected his later career adversely.

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 8 Leopold II of Belgium

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
4
Famous As: King of the Belgians
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.

 9 Thibaut Courtois

Jean-Claude Van Damme
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: May 11, 1992
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bree, Flanders, Belgium

 10 Stromae

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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.

 11 Matthias Schoenaerts

Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 8, 1977
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Antwerp

 12 Gotye

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
2
Listed In: Singers
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 21, 1980
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bruges
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.

 13 Rene Magritte

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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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.

 14 Michy Batshuayi

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: October 2, 1993
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brussels

 15 Charles Martel

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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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.

 16 Adnan Januzaj

Jean-Claude Van Damme
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: February 5, 1995
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brussels

 17 Lance Stroll

Jean-Claude Van Damme
3
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Racing driver
Birthdate: October 29, 1998
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

 18 Eddy Merckx

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Cyclist
Birthdate: June 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: 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.

 19 Peter Paul Rubens

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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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.

 20 Philippe of Belgium

Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Famous As: King of Belgium
Birthdate: April 15, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium

 21 Vincent Kompany

Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: April 10, 1986
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Uccle

 22 Marouane Fellaini

Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Football player
Birthdate: November 22, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Etterbeek, Belgium

 23 Leopold I of Belgium

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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Famous As: King of Belgium
Birthdate: December 16, 1790
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ehrenburg Palace, 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.

 24 Divock Origi

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: April 18, 1995
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ostend

 25 Georges Lemaître

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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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.

 26 Adolphe Sax

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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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.

 27 Youri Tielemans

Jean-Claude Van Damme
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: May 7, 1997
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sint-Pieters-Leeuw

 28 Mousa Dembélé

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Football player
Birthdate: July 16, 1987
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wilrijk, Belgium

 29 Clovis I

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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Famous As: King of the Salian Franks
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.

 30 Hergé

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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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.

 31 Bradley Wiggins

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Track cyclist, Sport cyclist
Birthdate: April 28, 1980
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ghent

 32 Justine Henin

Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Tennis player
Birthdate: June 1, 1982
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Liège, Belgium

 33 Thomas Vermaelen

Jean-Claude Van Damme
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: November 14, 1985
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kapellen, Flanders, Belgium

 34 Dries Mertens

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: May 6, 1987
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Leuven

 35 Philip I of Castile

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
1
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.

 36 Toby Alderweireld

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: March 2, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Antwerp

 37 Axel Witsel

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: January 12, 1989
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Liège

 38 Kim Clijsters

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Tennis player
Birthdate: June 8, 1983
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bilzen, Belgium

 39 Yannick Ferreira Carrasco

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: September 4, 1993
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tepito

 40 Lara Fabian

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
1
Listed In: Singers
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 9, 1970
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Etterbeek

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.

 41 Jacques Brel

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
2
Famous As: Singer and Actor
Birthdate: April 8, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Schaerbeek
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.

 42 John of Gaunt

Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Listed In: Miscellaneous
Famous As: Nobleman
Birthdate: March 6, 1340
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ghent, Belgium
Died: February 3, 1399

 43 Albert I of Belgium

Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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Famous As: 3rd Belgian King
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.

 44 Nacer Chadli

Jean-Claude Van Damme
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: August 2, 1989
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Liège

 45 Albert II of Belgium

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Famous As: King
Birthdate: June 6, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium

 46 Cécile de France

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 17, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Namur, Belgium

 47 Simon Mignolet

Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: March 6, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sint-Truiden

 48 Abraham Ortelius

Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Famous As: Cartographer
Birthdate: April 14, 1527
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Antwerp
Died: June 28, 1598

 49 Baudouin of Belgium

Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Famous As: King
Birthdate: September 7, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Château du Stuyvenberg, Brussels, Belgium
Died: July 31, 1993

 50 Joseph Plateau

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Listed In: Scientists
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Scientist
Birthdate: October 14, 1801
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brussels
Died: September 15, 1883