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Travel Europe Belgium Grand Place - Grote Markt - the central square of Brussels

Grand Place - Grote Markt - the central square of Brussels

Grote Markt, Brussel, Belgium, Flower Carpet and fountain

"One of the most beautiful squares in Europe, if not the world". This is most often heard sentence when tourists who visit the city of Brussels are asked to describe the city's central square. French speakers refer to it calling it the "Grand-Place", while in Dutch is called "Grote Markt". Tourists today are not the only admire the splendor of the locations in Brussels. Archduchess Isabella, daughter of Philip II of Spain wrote about this market during her visit to Brussels in September 1599: "I was never given to see something so beautiful and exquisite as the town square where the mayor is up to heaven. Decorations of the buildings are truly remarkable".

Writers like Victor Hugo and Baudelaire were also impressed by the charm of the market, dominated by City Hall in Brussels, the royal house and the houses of medieval guilds. Origin of market, today called the Grand Place, is a very humble sort. The place was just a sandy soil between two brooks flowing into the river Senn. Over time this land was turned into "Niedermerckt" or "down market". In the 12th century Brussels became a turning point of trade routes between Bruges, Cologne and France. English Wool, French wines and German beer were sold in the port and in this market.

During the Middle-Ages small wooden houses began to appear around the market, but then, after the 14th century, rich and powerful patrician families built their houses of stone here. Little by little, the market became commercial and administrative center of the city. In 1402 construction was begun in the Brussels town hall, the building would be completed in 1455. Market had become the political center had a major meeting place where executions is implemented and where dukes, kings and emperors were officially welcomed. In the following years, all wooden houses were replaced by beautiful stone residences, mostly owned by guilds of Brussels.

On August 13, 1695, the famous market was bombed, and nearly brought to the state of ruin, by Marshall De Villeroy. By order of Louis 14th of France, it nearly destroyed the entire city of Brussels in retaliation for a battle lost in Namur (south Belgium). Between 1695 and 1700, all guilds have rebuilt their homes. Town Hall which had also been severely damaged was rebuilt. In 18th and 19th centuries most houses became private property and the new owners have been trying to modernize these houses changing their appearance, until the mayor of Brussels, Karel Buls, decided that these houses of Grand Place, to be preserved as possible in their original state. Without the intervention of the mayor and the law promulgated by him, would have crippled both style and uniqueness of these houses in the center of Brussels.

Nowadays, the Grand Place in Brussels is the main tourist attraction. During the year, Grand Market in Brussels is visited by thousands of people who enjoy time spent here to see beautiful buildings, or stop at one of the many terraces and enjoying an excellent Belgian beer. Concerts and other kinds of musical events are held here in various periods of the year. The most popular events held here are Ommegang (an historical process that takes place in early July), and biennial flower carpet.