The Grand-Place of Brussels

One of the most beautiful squares in Europe


Grand-Place of Brussels, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

GPS: 50.84745863971, 4.3530127727972

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The Grand-Place of Brussels (Grote Markt in Dutch) is the central and historic square of the Belgian capital. Built in a flamboyant baroque style, it is surrounded by large merchant buildings, most of which were constructed at the end of the 17th century. This architectural ensemble makes the Grand-Place one of the most beautiful squares in the world. Having greatly contributed to the prosperity of the city, the Grand-Place remains the political and commercial centre of Brussels and has greatly contributed to the prosperity of the city.

Once lined with wooden houses, the Grand-Place of Brussels was first used as a market in the 15th century. The buildings became the symbol of the prosperity of the Flemish merchants (called guild houses) at the end of the Middle Ages and played an important political role with the construction of the Town Hall. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Grote Markt was used for public executions before being returned to its original commercial function. Despite its flourishing character, its massive destruction was ordered by Louis XIV in 1695 during the war of the League of Augsburg. This conflict pitted the French king against several continental European countries, including the territory of the United Provinces of the Netherlands and took place between 1688 and 1697. All the buildings damaged in the Grand-Place during the clashes with the French troops led by Marshal François de Neufville de Villeroy were immediately rebuilt. After three days of bombing, only the façades and the tower of the Town Hall building miraculously escaped destruction.

The Grand-Place in Brussels with its many cafés, bars and museums is the starting point for any visit to the Belgian capital. Its richly ornamented buildings form a homogeneous and admirable heritage in an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Throughout the year, the Grand-Place of Brussels is alive with festive, cultural, artistic, and musical events. At Christmas time, it is adorned with a huge Christmas tree around which a funfair, a Ferris wheel, a Christmas market, and other activities are held every year. At certain times of the year, the Grand-Place of Brussels is decorated with a carpet of flowers and hosts concerts, sound, and light shows.

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  • The artistic richness and mixture of architectural styles of the Grand-Place of Brussels (Gothic, Baroque, neo-classical)
  • The baroque facades of the guild houses (17th-century); the numerous gildings and sculptures adorning the buildings
  • The great bell tower of the Town Hall (15th-century) and the breathtaking view of the city from the top of the building; the collection of paintings, tapestries and luxurious rooms inside the monument
  • The neo-Gothic King’s House (Broodhuis in Dutch), which houses the Brussels City Museum
  • The pedestrian zone and the many cafés, bistros, delicatessens, and souvenir shops around the Grand-Place
  • The many sites of interest within walking distance of the Grand-Place of Brussels: Belgian Comic Strip Centre or Comic Strip Museum, Cocoa and Chocolate Museum, Brussels, Egmont and Coudenberg Palaces, Magritte Museum, Royal Palace of Brussels, Parliament, Oldmasters Museum (or Royal Museum of Ancient Art of Brussels), Mont des Arts garden and district, Brussels Musical Instruments Museum, Royal Circus, Halles de Saint-Géry, Royal Theatre of La Monnaie…
  • The labyrinth of shopping streets adjacent to the Grand-Place; tasting a variety of beer in the bars of the city centre; enjoying a dish of mussels and chips on the terrace of the Grand-Place; visiting breweries and museums specialising in the world of beer; the Wolf market (a concept combining restaurants, an organic market, a microbrewery and an artisanal chocolate factory)
  • The daily flower market between March and October; the evening concerts and light shows; the night-time illumination of the square in the historic heart of Brussels
  • The Flower Carpet Festival is held at the Grand-Place every two years in mid-August (even years) and the Flowertime event which takes place in the summer, alternating between odd years, in the Brussels City Hall; the annual Belgian Beer Weekend which takes place in September on the Grand-Place of Brussels; the Christmas market and the attractions organised as part of the Winter Fun Days (rides, ice rink, entertainment, sound and light shows, etc.)
  • Until the 12th-century, the Grote Markt was a marshy area before being drained. It was then able to host famous textile and food markets (even today, most of the alleys adjoining the Grote Markt are named after food).
  • Founded in 1619, the statue and fountain of Manneken-Pis has had a sister since 1985 (Jeanneke-Pis, which translates as ‘little girl urinating’). It is located in the impasse de la Fidélité, a stone’s throw from the Grand-Place, and according to local legend, symbolises fidelity.
  • Numerous inscriptions adorn the buildings and houses of the Grand-Place in Brussels. Written in Latin, these texts are the work of the Brussels poet Petrus van der Borcht, who died in 1739.
  • The Flower Carpet was first held in 1971. About 100 volunteer gardeners are mobilised to participate in this major bi-annual floral event (the installations are completed in less than a day).
  • If you are planning to travel to Brussels by car, make sure that the vehicle complies with the Low Emission Zone (LEZ). The LEZ is enforced seven days a week, 24 hours of the day. A vehicle’s Euro emissions standard appears in the registration document. An online service allows you to register for free and check whether your car complies with current standards.
  • Brussels has a 70 kilometres cycle node network of bicycle lanes and 180 bicycle stations every 450 metres.
  • From the Grand-Place, it is easy to walk to the famous Manneken-Pis fountain, which is symbolic of Brussels. The statue is located on Rue de l’Etuve, a few blocks behind the Town Hall (as is the statue of Jeanneke-Pis, but in the opposite direction).

Where to eat

  • L'atelier de Neuhaus
    (Chocolate in all its forms)
  • Brasserie de la Ville
    (Belgian cuisine and beers)
  • Le Rabassier
    (A culinary Mecca)

Where to go

  • Cathedral of St. Michael and...
    (Gothic architecture)
  • Royal Museums of Fine Arts...
    (Six museums in one)
  • Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

Where to stay

  • La Vieille Lanterne
    (close to Manneken Pis)
  • Carmelite
    (Charming and convenient)
  • Hotel des Galeries
    (Modern and bright)