Belgium has been the battleground of Europe since as far back as the Roman Empire as it had no natural protection from its big neighboring countries.
On top of that the Belgian territory is almost completely void of natural obstacles. The rivers facilitate the transport of troops and there never was a lack of roads. Ask the millions of Dutch traveling south every summer through Belgium in their cars, lugging the traditional Dutch caravan and slowing down anyone who wants to go faster than a 75 year old granny with a stroller.
For centuries, armies of almost every big power of Europe have fought on our land for resources and power. The English, Dutch, French and German armies have all been battling it out with each other within our borders. The battles of Oudenaarde, Ramillies, Waterloo, Ypres and Bastogne were all fought on Belgian soil. The Royal Army and Military Museum in Brussels covers battles and conflicts over a timeline of 10 centuries.
WARNING: rant coming!
And contrary to African countries who, more than half a century after decolonization, are still whining about it - blaming the foreign colonizers for all what is wrong in their countries, the folks living in what is called Belgium nowadays after every battle or war in their backyards just held their heads up high and went to work rebuilding yet again.
On that subject - me being a child of "colonialists" and born in the "Belgian Congo" - for too many years the leftist-gutmensch-dogooders in Europe (the same ones who want to make us believe we don't need borders) made excuses about corruption or poor governance in Africa, that this was somehow the consequence of neo-colonialism, or that the West has been oppressive, racist and blablabla... No ! I don't want my government apologizing for what happened in the Congo in 1836. For crying out loud we're in 2018 !
The West has not been responsible for what's happened to Africa's economy and population since the fifties of the previous century. African leadership should be held accountable, religious fanatics not allowing for any family planning in Africa should be held accountable, the Africans themselves who expect us to keep on rebuilding for free their roads, their destroyed bridges, schools, hospitals ... should be held accountable. Stop begging, get a life and get on with it.
Right, that being said - back to Belgium...
The series of conflicts which earned our country the nickname 'Battlefield of Europe' starts with the Battle of Leuven, on 1 September 891, when the Carolingian king Arnulf of Carinthia crushed the Vikings at the Dyle. From that day until WW II, there were about three hundred important battles in our regions, of which 295 were fought on 'Belgian' territory.
If you're a son of Ragnar the Viking and you're fed up with being served the flat, lifeless British Ale whilst looting Britannia : come to Belgium.
If you're a Brit and want to win the towel war over the Germans : come to Belgium.
If you're a Spanish religiously challenged king and you want to shove your inquisition down Europe's throat : come to Belgium.
If you're a vertically challenged French dictator (and I meant Napoleon - you twat - not Sarkozy) and want to rule Europe : come to Belgium.
If you're a mentally challenged German dictator with a funny mustache and want to rule the world : come to Belgium.
And of course you can find the scars of these battles all over Belgium. The ruins of the Abbey of Villers (Wallonia - Belgium) are an example. Founded in 1146 AD and looted and destroyed in the 18th century courtesy of the Austrians and our French neighbors. Vegetation and rain did the rest...
The Abbey fell into ruins. And then the Belgian railroad company tried to deal the final blow by building a railroad line almost slam-bang in the middle through the site. But all in all still an exceptional site to Belgian standards and an incredible photo opportunity. Certainly worth a few hours of your time.