Brussels’ Main Square
The Grand Place is the heart of Brussels, home of impressive Gothic buildings and the ideal spot to have a Belgian beer or a waffle.

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!

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  • Opt for Self-Service

    Don’t waste time at the ticket offices in Brussels’ train stations. Use the self-service ticket machines whose menus are available in several languages.

  • Follow This Photo Tip

    You’ll probably want to take a panoramic picture of the Grand Place. Instead, take several pictures rotating on your own axis and then put them together with a photography app or program.

  • Save on Tips

    Tipping is not necessary in Belgium, but if you liked the service you got at a restaurant, simply round up your bill.

  • Guarantee Your Good Fortune

    Rub the arm of the bronze statue Everad’t Serclaes located left of the Hotel de Ville in Brussels and it’s guaranteed that you’ll have good fortune.

  • Travel During the Best Season

    Check the events that are programmed at the Grand Place. Every year, in August, the square is adorned with a flower carpet.

  • Buying Tons of Chocolate

    Brussels International Airport, or Brussel-Zaventem, is the place where they sell the most chocolates in the world.

  • 800 Varieties of Beer

    More than 800 varieties of beer are produced in Belgium.

  • The Biggest Urban Area in Belgium

    Brussels is the biggest urban area in Belgium and it’s considered the de facto capital of the European Union.

  • Tall and Short

    The highest point in Belgium is lower than the world’s tallest building.

  • An Express Trip

    Did you know you can drive across Belgium in only three hours?

  • Travel Pet Friendly

    In Belgium, dogs are allowed almost everywhere, and they can even sit on a venue’s chairs as long as their owner pays their entry fee.

  • Three Kisses

    Don’t be surprised if you see that Belgian people greet each other with three kisses. It’s a tradition among friends.

  • Historic Reconstruction

    Most of the buildings surrounding the Grand Place are reconstructions made after the fire in Brussels caused by the troops of Louis XIV in 1695.

  • Victor Hugo in Brussels

    At the Grand Place you’ll find LePigeon, the building where the French novelist Victor Hugo lived during his exile in Belgium in 1852.