Grand Place stands at the heart of the charming city of Brussels and is considered among the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe. Surrounded by architectural gems, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is also a vibrant place with its many arteries leading to neighboring streets and alleyways where you will find an endless array of interesting, shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars.
The ornate buildings surrounding this square have a rich history. The Brussels Town hall, with its spectacular 96-meter high tower, was first built in the early 1400s. King's House, also known as Maison du roi, houses the city museum. Dating back to the 12th century, the historic structure had humble origins as a wooden building selling bread. It has been rebuilt many times from 15th century and was designed in Gothic Revival style in 1873. Both these historic buildings add to the grandeur of the square. There are also many guild houses and private houses with structured facades and ornate gables around the square. These were all rebuilt to their current form after the bombardment of 1695.
Events and Festivities
The plaza originally functioned as a merchants' market and has been in use since the 13th century. Even to this day, it is a prime meeting place for locals and visitors alike. There is a packed calendar of events throughout the year including concerts, festivals, and flower markets. Perhaps the biggest highlight is the Flower Carpet. Every two years, Grand Place is covered in exactly that, a sea of millions of colorful begonias shaped into the theme of the year. Christmas is equally delightful on the square. Illuminations transform the Gothic buildings with a fantastic light show, choreographed to music. It is also the location of the city's Christmas tree and nativity scene. Just a few streets away you will find traditional festive markets with local delights just waiting to be sampled.
Dine and Drink
The best thing to do in Brussels is to find a café or bar and sample some Belgian nectar as you watch the world go by. Beer is at the core of this little country's culture with over 450 varieties, anything from dark to light, and full of flavors such as cherry or raspberry. Quaint shaped bottles and glasses are part of the experience and these come in all shapes and sizes. Grand Place is the ideal place to enjoy this Belgian experience with cafe and bar options spilling out into the bustling square.