The Grand Place or the Groot Markt is one of the stunning iconic landmarks of Europe. It is located in the heart of Brussels in Belgium and is considered one of the most important squares in the country. Read why you should visit Grand Place, about the history of Grand Place, and the highlights of Grand Place.
This post and most of the photos are by Mayuri, an Indian expat, and blogger who writes at Tosomeplacenew. We hope that this article inspires you
Basics of Grand Place
Grand Place is located in the
- King’s Place (Maison du Roi) houses the Museum of the city of Brussels. Entry fee – 8 euros for adults (2018-2019). Group and guided tours are also available.
- House of the Corporation of Brewers now has a brewery museum – Belgium Beer Museum. Entry fee – 5 euros with beer.
- House of the Corporation of Carpenters now houses the House of the Belgian Master Chocolatiers. Click to read more about chocolate in Brussels
Why should you visit
- The Grand Place is a declared UNESCO World Heritage site. It is objectively one of the most architecturally beautiful squares in Europe.
- This place is opulent and speaks volume of the grandeur of Belgium architecture.
- In 2010, it was rated as the best (number 1) square in Europe to visit!
- The Grand Place has witnessed many pages of history from the medieval protests and wars to the bombing and destruction during the first and second world war, making it truly a piece of living history to read and explore.
What to see at Grand Place
The Grand Place was originally created to cater to the rising importance of local merchants and tradesman in the early 14th century. And that is evident from these houses and the unique street names. At the turn of the century trade and the guild system was gaining momentum in Europe.
By the 17th century, the Grand Place was bustling with market activities, especially with the trading of food items. Therefore, you will notice there the street in and around the market square are named after food, like Herb Market Street, Herring Street, and Butter Street and so on.
The Grand-Place is a living testimony to the success of Brussels’s mercantile class and its resilience in the face of destruction, under the hands of King Louis IX and rising to grandeur as a rich European nation. There are 3 edifices or structures that comprise the Grand Place.
The town hall is the only medieval building that is existing in its old form at Grand Place. The Town hall is also located at the central point of the square. The Hall still houses a significant portion of municipal offices. It is embellished by a bell tower which is the most iconic structure of the square.
The town hall was built in different stages during the early part of the 15th century and hence when you closely look at the architecture, you will find that it is asymmetrical. This is one of the criticisms of the town hall. Asymmetry is evident with the tower not built exactly in the middle of the building and neither sides of the tower are symmetrical. When you take a look at the town hall from a distance, you will also find that it resembles the new city hall in Marienplatz in Munich (minus the singing clock).
Originally built as a bread house, the King’s house has undergone several demolitions and renovations. When the house was first open, it was made up of wood (in a guild set-up). The purpose of the wooden house was to sell bread.
Later it becomes a seat of administrative importance for the Duke’s and was renamed as Duke’s house. When the same Duke became king, the now stone building came to be known as the King’s house. The museum of the city of Brussels is located at this building.
House of the Grand Place
When you arrive at the Grand Place, the stunning Italian baroque designs with gold finished buildings is what will catch your attention. The Grand Place houses are located on each side of the square and are lined with a number of guild houses
The reason why the Grand Place came into existence during the 14th century was due to flourishing trade and commerce and hence the set up of guilds. The buildings that you currently see are a replica of the original Grand Place guilds from the 1690s.
As you take a stroll along the square, you will find separate blocks of houses. Each column of the house (built in Flemish style) was an incorporated merchant office. Some of the notable ones include – House of the Corporation of Bakers (built in 1696), House of the Corporation of Greasers (1644), House of the Corporation of Carpenters (1644), House of the Corporation of Boatmen (1697), House of the Corporation of Tailors (1697), Corporation of Painters (1697), etc. There are also private houses that are restored.
As you can see, each house has a name and specific attributes. The grandeur and luxurious feel of this place are heightened with gold embellishments and designs, which speaks volume of the status of its occupants. In the entire square, there is no church or any other place of worship. The Grand Place was purely a commercial and a mercantile entity.
Cultural Events & Festivals at the Grand-Place
- Flower Carpet event – This is a flower (begonias) event that is organized every 2 years in mid-August
- Christmas Market/ Tree – During the month of December every year, Christmas tree decorations and markets are set up
- Concerts – There are free concerts here during summer months
- Meyboom procession starts at the Grand Place
The Grand Place is remarkably iconic for many reasons. It has retained its characteristic charm, even though it was destroyed by fire and bombarded throughout the centuries. The Gothic and Baroque attributes along with the stunning gold embellishments make it a great tourist attraction and an absolute must-visit on your trip to Belgium.
Have you been to Grand Place?
- A self-guided chocolate tour of the best chocolatiers in Brussels
- The best cities in Wallonia, Belgium
- The most beautiful day trip from Brussels
- Your perfect Europe itinerary
- Four days in Belgium
- One day in Antwerp
Mayuri is a Business Management professional based in Canada. Originally from India, she moved to Canada to finish her