Grand Place Brussels
The Grand Place or Grote Markt in Dutch is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe with architecture from 3 different eras (Baroque, Gothic and Louis XIV) making their marks on the square giving it an eclectic flavour. This eclectic quality earned the Grand Place a listing as one of the Sites of World Heritage by UNESCO in 1998.
Historically, the Bruxelles Grand Place was essentially a market place where traders and citizens sold and bought food. Therefore you will notice that all the streets surrounding the square are named after foods like chicken (poulet), herbs (herbes), cheese (fromage) and so forth. Nowadays you will see grand old buildings standing in the place of market shelters. The Maison du Roi, in French means King’s House but the lesser used name of Broodhuis in Dutch, means Bread House. Most of the buildings were rebuilt or restored after the bombardment of Brussels by France in 1695.
The Grand Place is always packed with people. There are tourists and school groups during the day and young people at night sitting on the stones in small circles drinking and talking. Overlooking them is the glowing Gothic tower of the Town Hall (Hotel de Ville) which one may mistake for a church or a castle. It acts as a great landmark because you can see the tower from most corners of the city.
To be in walking distance to the Grand Place, find a Grand Place hotel in hotel bookings. The restaurants and cafés around the Grand Place are worth visiting if you are in the area although slightly pricey, as to be expected. In the small alleys you will also find many Greek or Turkish style restaurants which are good for a quick bite but doesn’t represent the finest of Belgian cuisine.
Location in Brussels
The most central place for tourists to meet is slightly off-centre on the Brussels city centre map. It is to the west of Brussels Park, a large green rectangle on the map. The Grand Place is surrounded by main streets: Rue du Midi, Rue Marche aux Herbes and Rue du Lombard but connected by alleys. Walk down one of the alleys such as Rue au Beurre or Rue des Chapeliers towards the Town Hall.
Metro stop: Centrale, Bourse (pre-metro) or De Broukere.