BRUSSELS GRAND PLACE IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SQUARE IN EUROPE:
Many cities in Europe claim to have the most beautiful main square and Brussels’ Grand Place is up there as one of the most beautiful. As we stand in the middle of the square, surrounded by ornate 17th century architecture, I must say that the Grand Place or Grote Markt is a grand place indeed and what a magnificent place from which to begin any visit of the Belgian capital.
Brussels Grand Place
The Grand Place is in the Lower Town of Central Brussels, traditionally the less effluent of the two main sections of the centre. Nevertheless the Grand Place is the historical and commercial heart of Brussels.
What made an impression on us was the rich guildhouses and ornate and harmonious Flemish Renaissance buildings that surround the square.
Grand Place Buildings
Starting from the north-east corner of Grand Place and moving clockwise, the magnificent buildings of Grand Place include:
- The Maison du Roi was once the residence of the ruling Spanish monarchs. Today it is the home to the Musee de la Ville which holds 16th century paintings and tapestries. The museum also holds the 650 or so tiny costumes of the Manneken Pis.
- Le Pigeon – this was the Belgian residence of Victor Hugo – he moved here in 1852 (after Napoleon III seized power), before moving to Jersey and then Guernsey where he lived in exile.
- La Maison des Duc de Brabant - is a group of six Neo-Classical guildhouses
- In Charles Buls street, just off the Grand Place at the southern corner, is Everard ‘t Serclaes monument. He was assassinated in the 14th century for his role in defending Brussels from the Flemings. It is said that if you touch the arm of his bronze statue, it will bring luck, and so we did. As you can tell from the shining statue, many visitors have rubbed on the statue.
- At the entire southwest side of Grand Place is the Hotel de Ville. This architectural masterpiece still functions as a civic building. The 96 m spire was built by Jan van Ruysbroeck in 1449 and is slightly crooked.
- On the northwest corner of Grand Place is a group of guild houses: Le Renard was the Guildhouse of the haberdashers, Le Cornet was the Boatmen’s Guildhouse, La Maison des Boulangers was the powerful guild of bakers and Le Roi d’Espagne now houses the Grand Place’s finest bar with great views of Grand Place.
The Grand Place has been a venue for open-air markets since the 11th century and today many of popular Brussels events take place on this square, including the Belgian Beer Weekend, the Tapis des Fleur and Christmas markets.