High-level events in Brussels are quite a regular affair but the upcoming NATO summit definitely brings a special vibe to the city. Several local landmarks will be emblazoned in NATO colours to celebrate the NATO Summit next week. The leaders of the 30 member countries will meet on 14 June at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
Marking the occasion in Brussels
To welcome the leaders on the eve of the Summit, Brussels Town Hall in the UNESCO-listed Grand Place will be illuminated in NATO blue on the night of 13 June. Illuminations on the city’s main square are always spectacular and both locals and visitors get a chance to see the square from a bit of a different perspective.
Many other activities will also take place to mark the occasion – the fountain in the middle of the Montgomery roundabout (named after Field Marshal Montgomery – NATO’s first Deputy Supreme Allied Commander) will also be lit up in NATO-blue from 11 to 15 June.
The iconic Manneken Pis statue will be dressed in a NATO-branded outfit on 14 June. The outfit will be donated to famous Manneken Pis wardrobe. NATO flags will fly under the Cinquantenaire Arch from 11 to 15 June and at the entrance to the Atomium.
Photos and videos of the NATO-themed landmarks will be posted on NATO social media channels –Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. Passers-by are also invited to share their photos and videos of illuminated monuments on social media by tagging @NATO or using #NATOSummit hashtag.
2021 Brussels Summit
At the Brussels Summit on 14 June 2021, NATO Leaders will discuss a wide range of topics including NATO’s role in a more competitive world, collective defence, emerging technologies, climate change and security, and other important issues. Leaders are expected to take decisions about the future of NATO and agree on concrete measures to adapt the Alliance, as part of the NATO 2030 agenda. If you want to know more on the upcoming summit, visit the dedicated NATO page about the 2021 Brussels Summit.
History of NATO in Brussels & Belgium
Belgium has hosted NATO for over 50 years, more accurately since 1967! Being the capital of Belgium and the European Union, but also hosting the political and military headquarters of the NATO Alliance, gives Brussels a special position which facilitates closer political, economic and military cooperation. People in Belgium often take pride in being the hosts of so many important international organisations, despite the relatively small size of their country.
Interestingly, the construction of the original NATO headquarters in Brussels took place in record time, starting with a ground-breaking ceremony on 20 March 1967 and an opening ceremony just seven months later, on 16 October 1967. In his speech, Secretary General Brosio reiterated the virtues and effectiveness of Belgian hospitality and praised the collaboration and support given by the Belgian authorities to NATO staff for the expedient constructions of both SHAPE and NATO Headquarters. NATO moved to its new Headquarters in 2018, designed to resemble interlocking fingers that demonstrate unity and cooperation. The new space provides a home for a modern and adaptable Alliance. The NATO website offers a lot of interesting details if you want to learn more about the history of Belgium & NATO, as well as about the story behind choosing Brussels & Belgium as the seat of the Organization.
On 10 September 1971, a sculpture inspired by the NATO logo and designed by Belgian architect Raymond Huyberechts was installed in the Cour d’Honneur opposite the main entrance to the Headquarters.
Affectionately known as the “NATO Star”, the sculpture is one of the most popular attractions for visitors to the NATO HQ from all over the world, whether they be Heads of State or visiting students. Find out more about the NATO Star.