Adolphe Sax – By Wikimedia

Top 10 Famous Belgian people


Belgium has its fair share of famous people in the cultural, social or political domains. This country has had notable historic rulers, leading intellectuals, movie stars, and Noble Laureates.

Most people may be familiar with these celebrities and leaders but not know that they are Belgian. When you mention Belgium, some of the things that people may be identified is their dark chocolate, beer, and mussels.

Other than the people, this country has interesting art, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and carnival celebrations.

Hollywood famous actors Audrey Hepburn and Jean Claude van Damme are some of the famous Belgians. There are more of them.

Let’s now look at the top 10 famous Belgian People.

1. René Magritte – Painter

Rene Magritte- Photo by Wikimedia

If you know anything at all about Belgian art, you definitely have come across René Magritte’s work. One of his famous painting is of a pipe, known as The Treachery of Images.

The Magritte Museum in Brussels holds some of his most famous works such as The Empire of Light. His work displays a collection of ordinary objects that give new perspectives to normal things.

He used objects in his paintings that characterized his paintings. The Treachery of Images depicts a pipe that looks like a model for a cigarette store promotion.

Rene is one of the most famous Belgian surrealist painters who took over the world with his fantastic work.

2. Eddy Merckx – Professional Cyclist

There is no question about this next famous person from Belgium. Eddy Merckx is one of the greatest ever. He was born on 17 June 1945 in Meensel-Kiezegem.

Because of his stamina and resilience in the sport, Eddy earned himself the nickname “The Cannibal”. He was the strongest time trialist and climber in the world and had a few rivals.

Eddy is one of only four cyclists to have won the Tour de France five times. The other three are Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Lance Armstrong.

During the 1969 Tour de France, he was the overall winner of Yellow Jersey, won Green Jersey as the points winner and secured the Polka-Dot Jersey as King of the Mountains.

3. Adolphe Sax – Musical instrument designer

Adolphe Sax – By Wikimedia

Adolphe was a Belgian musical instrument designer and musician. He is best known for inventing the saxophone. Adolphe was born in Dinant in Wallonia, Belgium.

He inherited his skills and talent from his father, Charles-Joseph Sax, who was an instrument designer.

Adolphe began making his own instruments at an early age. He took part in a competition with his two flutes and a clarinet when he was 15.

While at the Royal School of Singing in Brussels, he studied the flute and the clarinet. Meanwhile, his father kept on producing orthodox music instruments to make money.

His first invention was an improvement of the bass clarinet design which he patented at the age of twenty.

Today, the saxhorns are widely used in concert bands and orchestras. He died in 1894 in Paris and was interred in section 5 at the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris.

4. Georges Remi Hergé – Animation creator

Georges was an influential comic master, the brains behind the lovable character of Tintin and his pal Snowy. Popularly known as Herge, his Tintin adventure series is considered as art-making a globally respected comic illustrator.

His work is immortalised at the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve. He was also recognized by the Comic Strip Center in Brussels for his art.

Georges developed a love of cinema and was inspired by Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur and the films of Charlie Chaplin, Harry Langdon and Buster Keaton.

He started working on sketches as a hobby while in school. Little did he know he was going to be a global phenomenon.

5. Romelu Lukaku – Professional Footballer

Romelu Lukaku, photo by Dmitry Golubovich – Wikimedia

Romelu Lukaku is a professional footballer who plays for the Belgian national team and Serie A club Inter Milan. He previously played for Manchester United.

He was born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium. Romelu started playing football at a young age. His first club was Rupel Boom where he played aged 5.

While playing in the youth program, Romelu scored a total of 121 goals in the 68 games he played for Lierse. He moved to Anderlecht and soon became the lead scorer in the Belgian Championship.

Romelu has played for great European clubs such as Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United.

6. Stromae – Musician

The first song that I ever heard by Stromae was Formidable and I was instantly hooked. His birth name is Paul Van Haver and he not only sings but is a rapper, and a songwriter.

He began his career at the age of 18, they formed a rap group named Suspicion. Later, he went to the film school of Brussels where whilst studying film, release his debut EP.

Stromae signed a four-year record deal with the record label Because of Music. His album Cheese did well in the Belgian Album charts and was the 6th on the French Album chart.

 Stromae has sold over 8.5 million records worldwide. He several nominations as awards under his name such as five UK Music Video Awards, the NRJ Music Award and the MTV Europe Music Award.

7. Carlota of Mexico – Empress

Empress Carlota of Mexico By Franz Xaver Winterhalter – Wikimedia

Carlota was a Belgian princess who became Empress of Mexico. This was after her husband accepted the Imperial Throne of Mexico and reigned as Maximilian I of Mexico.

Here is a back story to her influence, during the early 1860s, the ambitious Napoleon III initiated the French intervention in Mexico.

Her husband was chosen as the emperor and they moved from northern Italy to Mexico, then known as the new world. The couple were crowned in 1864 at the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Their new home was at the Chapultepec Castle. She took her imperial duties seriously by touring remote frontiers and writing reports on her visit.

She was loved for her diligence and service for the people.

8. Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Savoy – Political Figure

Another monarch that is famous from Belgium is Archduchess Margaret of Austria. She was Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands from 1507 to 1515 and again from 1519 to 1530.

Margaret was a central political figure of the early 16th century. She was revered as one of the greatest government administrators, political negotiators, and patrons of her time.

With her help, Emperor Charles V overcome his uncertain steps at the beginning of his reign. This made the king keep her close to his empire until her death.

She greatly contributed to culture and history. Margaret had her tomb remodelled to fit both her and her husband.

Whenever she made public appearances, cheers of Long Live Margaret filled the air.

9. Ingrid Daubechies – Physicist

Ingrid Daubechies By Wikimedia

Baroness Ingrid Daubechies is a physicist and mathematician. She is well-known for her work with wavelets in image compression. She has published a study on the mathematical methods that enhance image-compression technology.

Ingrid is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was named as a MacArthur Fellow in 1992.

With several prestigious awards on her name, she became the third woman since 1924 to give the Josiah Willard Gibbs Lecture sponsored by the American Mathematical Society in 2005. Her talk was on “The Interplay Between Analysis and Algorithm”.

10. Victor Horta – Architect

Victor Horta is a renowned Belgian architect that greatly contributed to the Art Nouveau movement within western architecture.

He beautifully crafted his designs by incorporating stunning techniques for the 19th century.

His architectural vision is envisioned through the prominent buildings and townhouses that are still visible to this day. Some of his works within Brussels are now distinguished as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.