Grand Place - History and Facts | History Hit

Grand Place

Kyle Hoekstra

26 Aug 2021
Image Credit: John Kellerman / Alamy Stock Photo

About Grand Place

The Grand Place is the central square in Brussels and the city’s most important landmark. It is surrounded by the city’s Baroque guildhalls, Brussell’s Town Hall and the City Museum.

History of the Grand Place

The Grand Place, known as the Grote Markt in Dutch, is considered one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. Originally an 11th century marketplace in the early city of Brussels, the Grand Place had become by the 14th century associated with the city’s merchants and tradesmen.

The market had been located along an important commercial road called the Causeway, which connected the County of Flanders to the prosperous regions of the Rhineland. Three indoor markets had been built on the northern edge in the 13th century: the meat market, bread market and cloth market.

Until the 14th century, the Grand Place had not been formally planned out. The city of Brussels expropriated and demolished a number of buildings in the square when it commissioned the construction of a large indoor cloth hall to the south of the square.

The Town Hall of Brussels was built in the square between 1401 and 1455. This was met by a corresponding symbol of ducal power when the Duke of Brabant ordered the construction of a building across from the Town Hall. This became known as the King’s House.

The Grand Place was bombarded by a French army in 1695 which destroyed much of its buildings. The city’s guilds rebuilt the square. It was sacked in the late 18th century during the Brabant Revolution.

The Grand Place today

The Grand Place has been at the centre of Brussels for a millennium and has consequently been the location of a number of significant historic events, from the execution of Protestant martyrs by the Inquisition to the foundation of the Belgian Labour Party.

The Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every year, a large flower carpet is installed in the centre of the square as part of its calendar of regular cultural events.

Getting to the Grand Place

The Grand Place is a natural destination for visitors to Brussels. The Grand Place receives tens of thousands of tourists every year and is unmissable in the centre of the city. Walking tours often begin in the Grand Place.

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