The Grand Place in BrusselsPhoto by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Eddy Van 3000</a> is licensed under <a ref="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener">CC</a>

Grand Place – Brussels Attraction Review

The Grand Place in Brussels
Photo by Eddy Van 3000 is licensed under CC

Traveling around Belgium you will find that you have a lot of different cities to see, but one that always comes up is all the Brussels attractions you must see. I know that for some people they will actually argue the opposite that Brussels is overrated for what it offers you and the crowds in the European capital can take what is a normal city in Europe and makes it into a place that is crowded and often seen as a touristy type of location. While, I do have a tendency to agree that the crowds that are in Brussels can be large and at times rude, you will find the city does have plenty of attractions for you to see. In this instance, I am going to be talking about the Grand Place, which is one of the major features you will hear and read about people talking about when they are speaking of visiting Brussels. With that being the case, let us start to cover more about this location so you can see what makes it one of those places that you must see when you are visiting Brussels.

Location Of The Grand Place 

Knowing where you are going to go is going to be one of the best things for you to know about. However, what you will find is the Grand Place is actually very easy to find as it is one of the most beautiful squares in all of Europe. So the location I will post here with a map, but as far as an actual address it does not really have a true mailing place. The map will have to do, but I can tell you this is a place that is very easy for you to find and if you do get lost, you just have to ask anyone and they can help guide you to the place.

History Of The Grand Place

The Grand Place - Belgium AttractionsThis is a place that you are going to really like if you are a history lover. However, what you will find is this is a place that has a very long history as well and was often seen as a market square long before you would imagine. In fact, the place has some history that you can trace back to the 1100’s. This alone is going to allow you to have some of the history you will want to see when you are in the Old World as a lot of Westerners call Europe.

While you may think that the great square that you see has always been this way, it actually started off very small and humble. The place was established as part of the fort region when the Flanders region was just starting to be settled and this is not the history that you would think of when you are looking at the area that is around the square now. However, you are going to find that the square would be seen as the spur for getting the commercial development done in the region as it would become the focal point and main trading area for the city before the actual city was established.

The indoor buildings that were built in the 13th century were some of the first indoor markets that you could find in Europe and this was to allow the markets to stay open during the inclimate weather and if you have ever been to Belgium before or any part of the Northern part of continental Europe, then you know it is possible to get hit with bad weather at any second and this is very true in the middle of winter. So the indoor bread, meat, and clothing locations were definitely a blessing. What is even better for the Duke that was in charge at the time it allowed him to have a better count on the comings and goings of the income the shops were making to collect the proper taxes. Later on, at the time the rest of the square would start to be enclosed with wooden buildings that would surround it.

Over time the square would start to gain even more importance and this is definitely what would start to make the square into one of the legends that it has become to this day. So it is very easy to see this square is one that you will like because it definitely does have the history to it. During the 14th century, the Duke would run into financial problems and would transfer the control to the private merchants in the area. This would actually lead to a growth that was not really projected and definitely was going to make it easier for you to see the value of the square as well.

During this time period the Brussels City Hall would start to be constructed on the South Side of the square. This would be something that you will see as being important because it would take over 50 years for the construction to be completed and ready for you to enjoy. However, this is also what would help the square become one of the most important ones in Brussels as the new city hall would help to lead to the city having a seat of power for the people to enjoy.

As far as history that you may have learned about in the schools the square would play an important role in the Reformation as well. The square would see the burning of Henri Voes and Jean Van Eschen to get burnt at the stake during the Inquisition, which is something that people really did not want to have a memory of, but would happen. The square would also serve as the beheading location of Egmont and Horn who were counts who spoke out against the rule of King Philip II of Spain and that would then lead to the rebellion that would see William of Orange lead the people against the Spanish.

Now, I have to say I am going to fast forward quite a bit to some of the more modern history that you will want to know about. That is the fact that this is a square that would be destroyed by the French and rebuilt, but it would also serve as a market square until 1959. This is when the square would start to serve as more of a location that would be seen as an attraction for tourist to go to and enjoy. Now, the square, unfortunately, would not go without notice from terrorist as it was bombed in 1979. The site would not suffer a ton of damage and would be rebuilt again, but this time it would be built to the level that people have come to love and now see on a regular basis.

In 1998 the square would garner a special honor that is often seen as being one that is amazing. The place was named to one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Then in 2010 the place would get another honor as it would be voted by people from all across Europe as being one of the most beautiful squares in all of Europe for the tourist to visit, but also for people to just sit down and see something that is amazing.

What Can You Do At The Grand Place

  • Shopping and enjoyment of the fine restaurants is one of the main things that you will find enjoyable about the place. This is going to allow you to have a great time because you can finally see and enjoy the square and just the simple people watching that you may want to sit around the square and enjoy the people that are coming and going.
  • Catch a concert or a show that is often seen happening in the area. While this may not work out well in winter if you are not used to cold weather it is amazing to do in the summertime. However, I will let you know that if you are in town around Christmas you will want to come here because it has an amazing Christmas lights show that you are going to be amazed by seeing.
  • During the month of July, you will want to go and catch the Ommegang which is the largest reenactment in Europe. So this is definitely something worthwhile for you to check out when you are in Brussels and at the Grand Place.
  • Finally, you will want to take in one thing that has made this square extremely famous and that is the flower carpet. This carpet is one that is made from flowers and definitely a labor of love, but it pays off on a grand scale as you can see by the picture above as the flowers are easily one of the most attractive things you can see outside of the amazing architecture of the buildings.

My Final Thoughts On The Grand Place

I have to say this is not a true attraction in the sense that you will be able to see some amazing art pieces or enjoy the views that you will get from a place like the Eiffel Tower. No, this is a place that is one of the best Brussels attractions for you to see on a budget, but also know it is going to be a great place for you to go and see and just enjoy the day. That is why I have to say if you are in Brussels you will want to make sure you check out and spend an afternoon at The Grand Place.