The Grand Place in Brussels
In the heart of Brussels, surrounded by emblematic buildings that engulf it in an environment infused with harmony, lies the Grand Place. It’s the historic downtown of said city and also the site where all its most important and beautiful edifices were built. There, tourists and locals watch as people go by while they enjoy a Belgian beer or listen to the stories and anecdotes told by tourist guides.
Today in DINKtravelers, we wish to support what Victor Hugo said about the Grand Place being “the most wonderful square in the world”, although, of course, we are passionate about the peculiarities and charm each square in the world possesses.
History of the Grand Place
The Grand Place began to take form in the 15th century, but what we find today is a combination of the different stages of the history of Brussels and, to greater extent, of Belgium. There we discover the echo of numerous happenings; actually, a long time ago, the square rose from the ashes, just like a phoenix, after a devastating bombing by the French in 1695 practically destroyed it. That’s one of the reasons why we find in it several different architectonic styles that vary from Gothic and Baroque to Neoclassical.
Town Hall in Brussels
Speaking of the buildings that surround it, the one that stands out the most is the Town Hall, mainly because it was the only one that needn’t be rebuilt after the bombing. Once you’re there you’ll identify it immediately thanks to its 96m high tower with a statue of Saint Michael, patron of Brussels, atop the spire. We recommend paying for a guided tour of the building. They’re offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and they’re available in Dutch, French and English.
Museum of the City of Brussels
La Maison du roi (King’s House in French) commonly known as Broodhuis (Bread Hall) is another emblematic building. Nowadays it houses the Museum of the City of Brussels where they exhibit 16th century paintings as well as the wardrobe of the famous sculpture of the Manneken-Pis, located only three blocks away from the Grand Place.
House of the Dukes of Brabant
On the other hand, the Maison des ducs de Brabant (House of the Dukes of Brabant) is conformed by seven separate houses unified by a single neoclassic façade. You won’t miss it because the building occupies the whole east side of the square and it’s full of golden ornamentation.
Belgian Waffles and Beer
Complement your visit with this: first, buy one of the more than 250 varieties of Belgian beer on Rue au Beurre; and second, try the famous waffles (gaufres de Bruxelles, in French) that they sell in stores located between the Grand Place and the Manneken Pis on Rue de l’Etuve. They’re so fluffy and big that they take up a whole plate! Top them with jam, fresh fruit, nuts, ice cream, whipped cream or chocolate. Not to miss!