"The Grand Place is the historical centre of Brussels and one of the busiest places in the city. Described by Victor Hugo as the most beautiful square in the world, it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO."
HISTORY OF THE GRAND PLACE
It began to take shape in the 15th century with the construction of a food market and various guild-houses. Some years later, the town hall was built, with the idea of establishing the authority in this shopping area. It was left in ruins in 1695 after a three-day bombardment by the French army. However, thanks to the strength of the citizens of Brussels and the guilds, this famous square was born again like a Phoenix from its ashes. Due to this, we can observe in the square several styles (Gothic, Baroque and modern styles like Neo-Gothic or Neo-Classical)
THE TOWN HALL
The Town Hall dominates the Grand Place with total authority. Its 96 meters stand out above the other buildings. The tower has undergone numerous renovations, like most of Gothic buildings in Belgium. It was restored in neo-Gothic style during the 19th century. At the top of the building you will see a five-metre statue depicting Archangel Saint Michael, patron of Brussels. The statue was restored in 1996.
CONSTRUCTION OF THE TOWN HALL
The process of construction of the building took place in three successive stages of enlargement and embellishment.
The first part to be built was the left wing of the building, between 1402 and 1421. The right wing was built between 1444 and 1454. Finally, the belfry was finished in 1455. Bell towers, churches and town halls were in many cases at that time a competition among cities to demonstrate which one had more economic power. The competition between Leuven and Brussels to build the best city hall explains these different phases. In fact, the building reveals a number of anomalies which, in turn, give fame and originality to the building itself. The clearest example of that is the tower of the Town Hall, which is not aligned with the axis of the main door. According to an unreliable legend, the architect Jean Van Ruysbroek committed suicide after seeing that the building was not centred.
INTERIOR OF THE TOWN HALL
The hallways of the ground floor and the first floor, the Galeria Grangé, the Conference Room Council Chamber and the Maximilian Room, the staircase of honor (Escalier d’Honneur) and its landing, the Gothic Room and the Wedding Room are all open for the public. During July and August you can also have access to the Aldermen's Room.
On the first floor there is a collection of portraits of different sovereigns and governors throughout the history of Brussels. The Hall of the Municipal Council was laid out in the 18th century by the States of Brabant, who used to hold their meetings there. Gaskets nowadays take place in the Maximilian Room.
In the Conference Room Council Chamber, also known as the Gothic room, was founded in 1846 the Belgian Liberal Party. Ancient tapestries -woven in Mechelen- and gilt mirrors line the walls above an inlaid floor.
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE TOWN HALL
The city hall can be visited with a guided tour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, in Dutch (at 13:45h), in French (at 14:30) and in English (at 15:15).
EVENTS IN THE GRAND PLACE
Flower carpet: Every second year the Grand Place of Brussels is filled with flowers and is impregnated with an aromatic odour. This happens on August 15th since 1971. An amazing event not to be missed.
Christmas in Brussels: During Christmas evenings there are light showsin the Grand Place. Playing with shapes and colours, they create an atmosphere unique to these dates.
THE BUILDINGS OF THE GRAND PLACE
L' ÉTOILE (The Star): It was demolished in 1853 as a result of the widening of the street.In 1863, a proposal was made to rebuild it, this time without its ground floor, to preserve the image of the square. The project became a reality in 1897. In the passage leaving the Grand Place, you can find a statue of Everard, a patrician who played a key role in the Succession War by the middle of the 14th century. Touching the bronze arm of the statue is said to bring luck.
LE CYGNE (the Swan): in the 19th century it became a centre of regular meetings for young progressive people like Karl Max and Frederic Engels. The Workers' Party of Belgium was founded in this building in 1885.
L´ARBRE D´OR (the Golden Tree): This building, which was formerly the headquarters of the brewers guild, houses the Museum of this guild-house. Inside there is a replica of a brewery of the 18th century and a collection of old beer taps.
MAISON DES DUCS DE BRABANT (House of the Dukes of Brabant): This is a group of six neoclassical guild-houses, all of them sharing a common façade. Stone busts of the ducal line along the façade gave this group of houses their name.
When the square was rebuilt after the bombardment of 1695, this was the most modern project, which was also in line with the ideas of the young governor Maximilian II Emmanuel of Bavaria.
LE CERF (the Deer): this House belonged to the architect Gilles Van de Eynde.
MAISON DE L'ANGE (the Angel): the owner of this house was a famous porcelain dealer.
LE PIGEON (the Dove): this building originally housed the painters’ guild until 1659. Unable to pay for its reconstruction, the Corporation was authorised to sell the plot of the architect Pierre Simon. Later on, the building was also home to Victor Hugo, the exiled French novelist who chose the house as his Belgian residence in 1852. Some of the most complimentary comments about Brussels emerged later from his pen. He considered the Grand Place as the most beautiful square in the world.
THE CHAMBRETTE DE L'AMMAN (Amman's Tiny Bedroom): Before the bombardment, the building was known as Le Marchand d'Or or The Gold Merchant House. It was then purchased by a wholesaler of ceramic.
MAISON DU ROI (the King's House): the bread market was initially located here. This explains the fact that, even nowadays, the building is known as the House of Bread. During the 16th century the guild left the building and it was turned into a building frequently used by representatives of public power. Originally called the Duke’s House, it became known later as the King's House. The current building houses the Municipal Museum and the famous MannekenPis costumes.
MUSEUM OPENING HOURS
From Tuesday to Friday: 10:00 h to 17:00 h
Public Holiday and Sundays: 10:00 to 13:00 h
PRICE: €2.5 person.
LE ROI D'ESPAGNE (the King of Spain): this building was built on the site of the old Serhuyghs’ House. The bakers’ guild sold the headquarters they had in Tête d'Or street. They participated, then, in the reconstruction of the GrandPlace with a project consisting of six buildings. The “King of Spain” is one of the most typical and touristic restaurants in Brussels. The best thing about this restaurant is the view over the Grand Place. There is a bust of Charles II of Spain in its façade, asovereign of Belgium in the 17th century.
LA BROUETTE (the Wheelbarrow): This was the meting point of the Vettewariërs (butter producers), so it became their guild-house.They traded with dairy products and poultry. Its façade dates from the mid 17th century. Although it managed to survive the bombing of 1695, the enemy fire destroyed the gables.
LE SAC (the Bag): this building, made of stone, survived the bombardment of 1695. It was home to cabinetmakers, carpenters and coopers.
LE RENARD (the Fox): rebuilt in 1699, it was the meeting place of the haberdashers, a union corporation grouping different sectors of retail trade.
THE HEART OF BRUSSELS
The Grand Place is the forum, the meeting centre of the capital. A magical place full of history. Anyone who comes to Brussels must visit it. Everyone experiences a feeling of amazement when visiting the Grand Place for the first time. Come and discover the capital of Belgium and its history withBrussels Nice Tours!
Discover the Grand Place of Brussels with the Free Tour in Brussels.
Grand Place 1000 Brussels
HOW TO REACH THE GRAND PLACE
- Metro: Bourse, lines 3 and 4 Gare Centrale, lines 1 and 5.
- Tram: Bourse, lines 31, 32 and 33.
- Bus: Bourse, lines 48 and 95; Gare Centrale, 38, 65, 71, 86 lines.
SOME PLACES NEAR THE GRAND PLACE
- Museum of the City of Brussels (31 m)
- Saint-Hubert Galleries (206 m)
- Jeanneke Pis (223 m)
- Manneken Pis (265 m)
- Brussels Cathedral (505 m)
- Sablon neighbourhood (952m)
- Sainte-Catherine (523 m)
- Saint-Géry (425m)