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Hasselt is the capital of the Belgian province of Limburg. The city centre, although not big, is very cosy. In 2004, it was declared the 'cosiest city of Flanders'. The city is extremely active in inventing and implementing plans, for instance the thorough makeover of its centre. Part of that centre is now car free, and traffic is restricted in other areas. Hasselt is the gin capital of Belgium. The Borrelmanneke' and the National Gin Museam symbolise that status. In addition, the city houses the largest Japanese garden in Europe.
Since the end of 2005, Hasselt has 70,000 inhabitants. The number is growing steadily. The local dialect is known as Hessels and it is different from Flemish. Many street signs are posted in Flemish as well as Hessels.
The city is located in the north-east of Belgium, more or less in the centre of triangle Brussels-Antwerp-Maastricht. Of those three cities, Maastricht is closest to Hasselt: 35 kilometres. The city is situated on the Albertkanaal and river Demer.
Hasselt is an important economic centre in Belgium. It is situated in the heart of the so-called Euregion Rhine and Meuse, a cooperation between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. It is Flanders' third trade city. It's growth was due in part to a large Philips plant, but that was closed in 2003. The city now focuses on the service sector and knowledge. The young University of Hasselt plays an important role in that respect. The city is a forerunner when it comes to the application of modern technology. In the 'I-City' project, 4000 volunteers test wireless ICT applications.
Hasselt is known as a shopping town par excellence. The city council is very active in promoting the extensive network of shops.
Hasselt is located at about an hour's drive from the national airport Zaventem, near Brussels. Maastricht-Aachen Airportis located more closely, with connections to Amsterdam, Berlin and Bucharest. In addition, there are flights operated by budget airlines to popular holiday destinations. Holiday flights also depart from the Liege Airport, to the south-west of Liege.
Small airplanes can land in Hasselt itself, at Kiewit airport.
The city bus network in Hasselt is free! The experiment with free transport began in 1997 and was so successful that it was implemented definitely. All buses depart from the square in front of the train station. A special City shuttle bus (CP Centrum Pendel) departs every 10 minutes for the Grote Markt. Regional buses also arrive at the station square.
On the Groenplein behind the town hall you can also borrow various kinds of bicycles from the city guards (Mon-Fri 9 am - 6 pm - Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm). This service is also free.
Hasselt is easy to reach via the motorways E313 and E314. In the city, there are two ring roads, the Grote Ring and the Groene Boulevard. The latter circles the city centre.
Within walking distance of the city centre there are free parking areas. Near the Alverberg sports centre there is also a P+R area, from where a free city bus leaves for the city centre. There is also a special zone for campers. Parking in the street is paid (Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 7 pm). In the centre there are also several indoor car parks. There is a big car park behind the Kolonel Dusartplein. The parking area behind the Central Station often has spaces available.
In Hasselt car speeds are monitored a lot! In the city centre and near schools, the speed limit is 30 km/h.
The city has a reasonable number of hotels, including two 4 star hotels. In addition, there are bed & breakfast accommodations, which in Belgium are called 'guest rooms'. Hasselt attracts many day trippers, and fairs and conferences are organised regularly. We recommend booking your hotel room in advance.
For more information about Hasselt, we recommend Google, and the following sources: