La Grand-Place

Brussels, Belgium

La Grand-Place in Brussels is a remarkably homogeneous body of public and private buildings, dating mainly from the late 17th century. The architecture provides a vivid illustration of the level of social and cultural life of the period in this important political and commercial centre.

Around a cobbled rectangular market square, La Grand-Place, the earliest written reference to which dates back to the 12th century, features buildings emblematic of municipal and ducal powers, and the old houses of corporations. An architectural jewel, it stands as an exceptional and highly successful example of an eclectic blending of architectural and artistic styles of Western culture, which illustrates the vitality of this important political and commercial centre.

The Grand-Place testifies in particular to the success of Brussels, mercantile city of northern Europe that, at the height of its prosperity, rose from the terrible bombardment inflicted by the troops of Louis XIV in 1695. Destroyed in three days, the heart of the medieval city underwent a rebuilding campaign conducted under the supervision of the City Magistrate, which was spectacular not only by the speed of its implementation, but also by its ornamental wealth and architectural coherence. Today the Grand-Place remains the faithful reflection of the square destroyed by the French artillery and testifies to the symbolic intentions of the power and pride of the Brussels bourgeois who chose to restore their city to its former glory rather than rebuild in a contemporary style, a trend commonly observed elsewhere.

A pinnacle of Brabant Gothic, the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), accentuated by its bell tower, is the most famous landmark of the Grand-Place. Built in the early 15th century, the building partially escaped bombardments and underwent several transformations over time. Its ornamental programme is largely due to the restoration campaigns conducted in the late 19th century. Facing it, the King"s House, rebuilt in the historicist vein, is perfectly integrated into the ensemble. Its elevation is in keeping with the Gothic style edifice prior to the bombardment and testifies remarkably to the ideals of the contextual conservation of monuments advocated in the 19th century. The King"s House has been occupied for decades by the City Museum. On both sides of these monuments symbolic of public authority were houses occupied by powerful corporations. Each different but built over a very short time, they illustrate remarkably the Baroque architecture of the late 17th century, with a singular treatment of the gables and decorations, sometimes fretted, sometimes more classical. Each house has a name and specific attributes, heightened with gold, reminiscent of the status of its occupants. It is interesting to note that this is a rare example of a square without a church or any other place of worship, which emphasizes its mercantile and administrative nature.

La Grand-Place is UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Details

Founded: 17th century
Category: Historic city squares, old towns and villages in Belgium

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Aggie Wang (2 years ago)
It’s an absolutely stunning and must visit major attraction in Brussels. The historical buildings surround the huge plaza. The gilded facade and architectural details of each single building really bring back the old charm and beauty. The place is vibrant. There are restaurants and cafes surrounded. As well as city hall and city museum. On the day when I visited, there was a sport game there. People were enjoying the game and the atmosphere.
Salim Khoso (2 years ago)
What a fascinating and remarkable place this is. Was really amazed to see the detailed work carved on all these buildings in this famous square. The buildings are about 400 years old but they will still give you the most amazing aesthetic view. You could go any time and stay around to get the beautiful vibes from this place. Loved it and is must visit place.
Sanny C (2 years ago)
Stunning grand place! The guild houses are beautiful! Check out the town halls architecture. At first sight it look symmetrical but if you look closer nothing is symmetrical. The plaza is also used for open air events. When we were there the Jazz festival was taking place. Definitely worth a visit!
William Khalil (2 years ago)
2022.05.05 We visited the Grand Place multiple times. Daytime and nighttime. Lovely to see and spend some time to look and enjoy the architecture of the buildings. Incredible view and lovely. A must see when in Brussels. Many cafes and restaurants in the area especially if you want Belgian Fries, Waffles, Chocolate, Ice cream and definitely beer.
J Larwig (2 years ago)
Fantastic place to pause and enjoy the architecture after walking around town. My favorite activity here is to just grab a drink and people watch! Make sure you visit once during the day and again at night because the buildings are gorgeous when they are lit up.
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