The focal point of Brussels city centre, Grand Place reflects an opulent, sophisticated time in Belgium’s history, earning its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and cradle of the city’s most cherished museums. The square also epitomises the multicultural aspects of modern-day Brussels, with international shopping, diverse cuisine and evolving arts venues.
Tucked within a cobbled square of 110 by 68 metres, the stunning, ornate architecture of Grand Place preserves dozens of guildhalls from earlier centuries, as well as Brussels’s neo-Gothic style Town Hall, across from the Museum of the City of Brussels. Brewpubs populate the square, which is also home to the Museum of Belgian Brewers. Belgian chocolates, famous the world over, have a significant presence in the square, with chocolate workshops, demonstrations and tasting tours.
Walking is the easiest way to get around Grand Place, but metros, buses and trams are available as well. The square is just a few minutes’ walk from the Bruxelles-Central station. For the highlights of Grand Place and other important points within the city, including the nearby Mannekin Pis statue, many tourists opt for the wildly popular Hop-on Hop-off double-decker buses.
Grand Place had its birth as the central town square of Brussels in the 12th century, evolving into a primary gathering place. By the 13th century, it was known as “Nedermarckt” for its bustling bread, meat and cloth markets on the northern edge. Dozens of side streets found off the square still bear the names of local sellers of cheese, herring, coal and other finely honed crafts.