Grand Place, Brussels, Brussels Overview

Most widely known as a social and grand square in Brussels, the Grand Place existed from the late 17th century. Today the site is home to buildings, markets, restaurants and many leisure activities. The square is regarded as one of the most beautiful squares of Europe and was also listed as one UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

Rising from dreadful bombardment, Grand Place gives evidence to the success of Brussels after being defeated by Louis XIV in 1965. With references dated back at the beginning of the 13th century there was existence of three markets of meat, cloth and bread respectively. Later in the 14thcentury as improvements occurred in Grand Place, then owned by Duke of Brabant, there was a rise in local merchants with a blooming trade. Even though the square was present sans a definite border, it was the Brussels Town Hall construction on the south that added as a landmark. 

With 70000-strong French army working for François de Neufville caused destruction on 13 August 1695. A massive destructive arms like mortars and cannons to set fire on major part of Grand Palace and the nearby district. Due to this annihilation only stone made section of the town hall and few other buildings remained, while the rest went came down crumbling. After four years the Grand Place was renovated by the city’s association with the combination of Gothic, Baroque and Louis XIV fashion. With a few more years of both devastation and rebuilding of the Grand Place, it was in 1885 that the Belgian Labour Party organized the first official meeting at the Grand Place.

During World War I, the town hall was made into a makeshift hospital as refugees made Brussels a safer place to be. The Grote Markt or Grand Market started on 19 November 1959 at Grand Place and still exists. Though the square has been through many attempts of bombarding and then redevelopment, it still is regarded as one of the lively and amazing public squares in Europe.

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Buildings at the Grand Place

Hotel de Ville or Town Hall: Being the central edifice built in gaps between 1402 and 1455, the Town Hall is simply a magnificent one. The stone façade of the hall has Gothic architecture like the intricate gargoyle that represents the history.  With a height of 96m with the statue of St. Michael topped on the building it is one of the finest civic houses in Brussels. It is decorated with 108 sculptures showcasing the Parisians and rest of the French cities. The place holds many historical events in the past like for example the Franco-Prussian War where the building was demolished by the French Army.

Reconstruction works continued for nearly 19 years from 1873-1892 by the architects Theodore Ballu and Edouard Deperthes.  While the exterior was kept the same; its interiors were redone in the 1880’s fashion. The clock set at the central tower is adorned with gorgeous figurines giving a glimpse of Seine River and the city of Paris. The central ceremonial doors consist of aesthetic figures of well-known academicians and Parisians like Henri Chapu, Auguste Rodin being few of them. Highlights of the Hall are the long ball room Salle des Fêtes, the large staircase, chandelier, and stained glass windows.

Maison des Ducs de Brabant: With neo-classical architecture this structure houses seven houses each have its own story to tell. 

Le Renard, Le Cornet and Le Roy d’Espagne
Le Renard or House of the Corporation of Haberdashers was rebuilt in 1699 and today includes symbolic structures which also once had Saint Nicholas, a patron of harberdasher (trader of sewing materials).

Le Cornet or the House of Corporation of Boatmen was rebuilt in 1697 by Antoine Pastora

Le Roy d’Espagne once was the baker’s guild and today is the most popular bar that serves delicious food and Belgian beer. The building’s exterior has a statue of King Charles II on the façade making an impressive building altogether.

La Brouette was restored in 1912 after the bombardment of 1695 and is also called as House of the Corporations of Greasers. 

Many guild houses remain part of this area and the above mentioned ones are just a few of them.

King’s House : After the damaged suffered by the house in 1965 and renovated in 1873 by architect Victor Jamaer. Maison du Roi as it is also called as has Gothic Revival Style building also houses the Museum of the City of Brussels since the year 1887. Duke of Brabant, the ruler of Spanish Empire was the owner of the house before it got renovated.

Belgian Dishes to try at the Grand Place

A cuisine that is full of different flavours and relished by everyone who visits this place here are few dishes you should not miss.

Belgian waffles are famous worldwide known as Gaufres in French and are larger than the other ones from Liège. Enjoyed best with the chocolate or any fruity sauce, whipped cream, the waffles give your mouth the right crunch and yummy taste with every bite.

Moules frites is one of the most served dishes anywhere at the street eateries or at the restaurants. More of a starters or entrée people enjoy them with Belgian Beer as the dual combination is absolutely best.

Waterzooi: Originally from Ghent, the dish has chicken or fish stewed in a sauce and has varied vegetables in it.

Carbonade Flamande: Consumed with beer as an accompaniment, this stew has beef, beer and onions in it

Belgian Beers: Stella Artois, Chimay and Duval are the renowned Belgian beers which can be enjoyed here with the side of cheese, chips or nuts for that crisp.

How to Reach

From Brussels Airport by Train: IC, S2, S9, and S8

From Da Vinci by Train: S9/S5, S4/S5/S7

From Brussels Airport by Bus: 651, 652, 660, 681, 683, 272, B12, B65

From Da Vinci by Bus: B65, 272, 80, 95

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