Brussels is home to the Grand Place, a picturesque square surrounded by beautiful buildings, showcasing 17th-century architecture. This is one of the most famous places in the city so millions of tourists are drawn to it each year.
Here are some dos and don’ts for when you choose to visit this spectacular plaza, on a Brussels city break.
Do admire the architecture
One of the first things you’ll notice when entering the Grand Place is the buildings situated around its edge. During the War of the League of Augsburg in 1695, a French army of 70,000 troops bombed Brussels, focussing mainly on this square. All of the guild houses were burned down, except the City Hall because it was constructed out of stone.
Soon after this catastrophe, the various guild houses were rebuilt and that’s what we see today. The awe-inspiring, 17th-century architecture incorporates features from the Gothic and Baroque eras, providing a unique spectacle. Each house has specific attributes, differentiating it from its neighbours.
Don’t forget to checkout the annual festivals
Why not line up your trip to the Grand Place with one of Brussels’amazing annual festivals? A popular one is the Flower Carpet that occurs every two years. During this tradition, a bed of multi-coloured begonias is laid out across the centre of the square floor - like a blanket - with various shapes and patterns incorporated to present a unique design.
Wander through the cobbled streets during November and December to take part in the spectacular Christmas markets. You’ll be surrounded by market chalets selling stocking fillers, with a giant Christmas tree in the background and the sound of children enjoying the merry-go-round filling the air.
Ommegang is another Belgian tradition that consists of a parade, re-enacting the historical event of Emperor Charles V presenting his son to the city in 1549.
Do visit the Town Hall
The star of the show is the Town Hall, as it showcases the city’s power through several breathtaking sculptures, placed on its walls. This Gothic-styled building dates back to the Middle Ages and is situated opposite the City Museum.
A 315-feet-tall tower can be seen on top, with a spire attached to its top, holding a gold, metal statue of the patron saint of Brussels, angel Michael, slaying a dragon. Inside you’ll discover wooden panelling, tapestries from the 16th century and paintings from the collections at the Town Hall Museum, that’ll be sure to take your breath away.
Don’t arrive during midday
Brussels is an extremely popular destination for city-break enthusiasts, meaning the Grand Place is a first-on-the-list kind of spot, so arriving before the crowds is crucial. If you’re hoping to get a beautiful photos of the area empty, arrive during the early morning to avoid tourists intruding.
By midday, the plaza will be booming with people, whether they’re there to look around or go inside each of the top attractions. You can also avoid large crowds by arriving late in the evening, however, the buildings are all lit up so there may still be a few tourists hoping to get a spectacular view too.
Do go on a guided tour
Whether you wish to take a tour of one of the plaza highlights, like the Town Hall or Museum of the City or, join in a tour of the area itself, you’re bound to learn plenty more than if you were to walk around alone.
During a tour, your guide will explain the history of each attraction and talk you through the construction as well as explain the historically famous faces associated with it. Your guide may also provide you with many hints and tips for good restaurants and bars to visit, on top of some lesser-known spots to visit.
If you would like to visit the Grand Place on a city break to Brussels, we can tailor-make your trip to suit your requirements. Call the Fred.\ Holidays team on 0800 988 3369 or contact us via our website.