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20 famous Belgians

Jan Van Eyck is known as the ‘father of oil painting,’ and for his mastery of the technique.

Peter Paul Rubens became a world-famous baroque painter and was knighted by both Philip IV, King of Spain, and Charles I, King of England.

René Magritte, If you know anything at all about art, you must have come across this legendary painter.


Victor Horta, this architect thanks his reputation for his stunning Art Nouveau designs. Some of which are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone.

Jean ‘Toots’ Thielemans, the world’s most famous harmonica player who became an NEA Jazz Master in 2009.

Jacques Brel, the legend of the French ‘chanson’ and movie scene.

Jean-Claude van Damme, Most people know him as the modern-day action movie actor ‘The Muscles from Brussels.’


Audrey Hepburn, she was born Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston in Brussels.

Georges Remi (Hergé), the creator of the adventures of TinTin.


Eddy Merckx, he is, among many other cycling victories, a five-time winner of the Tour de France.

Kim Clijsters, Tennis queen who was ranked number 1 in the World, in both singles and doubles.

Georges Lemaître proposed what he called the ‘hypothesis of the primeval atom’ which would later become known as the Big Bang theory or the origin of the Universe.

Reverand Julius Nieuwland created the synthetic rubber that later led to the invention of neoprene by DuPont.

Leo Hendrik Baekeland, the inventor of the early plastic, Bakelite.

Jules Bordet, developed the first vaccine against the cough as well as the Wassermann test to discover syphilis.

Gerardus Mercator devised a technique to produce globes and is remembered for the Mercator projection world map.


Liz Claiborne, CEO and fashion designer was born Elizabeth Claiborne Ortenberg, in Brussels.

Dries Van Noten, his eccentric style of designing fashion is world-famous.

Georges Simenon, one of Belgium’s most prolific authors, with his world-famous detective series about Commissaire Maigret of the Paris police.


Of course, there are many more famous Belgians, check out our website for more famous and amazing Belgian people

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