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Gravesend, United Kingdom
October 3, 2013
From journal A weekend in Brussels!
Blackburn, England, United Kingdom
December 17, 2011
From journal A Christmas Weekend in Brussels
CA1 1LA, England, United Kingdom
January 1, 2011
From journal Surprisingly interesting Brussels
Cary, North Carolina
April 28, 2009
From journal Eating Our Way Through Brussels in One Day
January 16, 2007
From journal The Heart of Europe - A Weekend in Brussels
April 20, 2004
There is the annual Brussels Jazz Marathon in May, featuring musicians at various venues across the city. There is a temporary stage at the Grand Place for free featured musical acts along with food and beer available for purchase. The weather can be miserable, but the skies do not seem so gray with a waffle, a cherry beer, and mellow jazz music wafting in the confines of the plaza.
The annual Ommegang procession is based on a magnificent parade attended by Emperor Charles V in 1549. The origins actually can be traced back to 1359 after a special statue of the Virgin Mary was transported from Antwerp to the Eglise Notre-Dame-du-Sablon. Originally more somber and religious in nature, the Ommegang is now more of a mini-carnival with a procession of guilds, locals dressed up in velvety medieval period costumes, and performers balanced on precariously tall stilts. There are 3000 reserved seats on temporary bleachers within the Grand Place. If you do not have tickets, try to watch the flag processions and horse parades on one of the side streets leading towards the square. Otherwise you can get some free peeks here and there. This memorable event usually takes place on the first Thursday in July.
The famous Carpet of Flowers covers almost the entire Grand Place only once every two years, although the way the scene is depicted on every postcard rack in the city would lead you to believe that this horticultural spectacle takes place every day. The floral carpet, which includes over 700,000 begonias, usually lasts for only three days and is held the second weekend of every even-year August (in 2004 it is scheduled for August 13 to 15). The design of these amazing temporary floral tapestries is different every two years.
The Grand Place supports a European Christmas Market in December, featuring food, drink, music and chilly yuletide cheer. You may witness a "crib" with live animals stationed here. As winter continues, there is a public skating rink in the plaza.
From journal Bill in Belgium - BRUSSELS
The unity of appearance within the Grand Place is no accident. Brussels was pummeled by the French in 1695, and somehow much of the City Hall (also called the Hotel de Ville in French and the Stadhuis in Flemish) was not destroyed. This allowed for architects a unique opportunity to create a work of urban design that is remarkably refined and cohesive. Most of the guildhalls were constructed with Italian-Flemish Baroque facades from 1695 to 1700 to complement the Gothic City Hall, although they have been thoroughly renovated since then. The rectangular plaza (about 360 feet long and 225 feet wide) does not follow the compass points exactly, but we will call the longer sides the “northern” and “southern” sides.
The largest building of the Grand Place is the City Hall, which was begun in 1402 and occupies most of the southern side of the square. The Lions’ Staircase, a good spot to take some photos, was the former main entrance. The majestic tower (315 feet high) was added in 1455 by architect Jan Van Ruysbroeck. It is topped by a statue of St. Michael, the patron saint of Brussels. The facade looks asymmetrical due to the location of the tower, but it is composed of a certain number of bays, and the effect is that the design of the building defers to the overall appearance of the square. A fabricated legend has it that the architect had jumped off the top of the tower when he realized the supposedly erroneous spotting of the tower. The local tourism office is located here if you want to pick up some free brochures.
The counterpoint on the northern side is the King’s House (Maison du Roi), although no king has actually resided here. It was rebuilt and completed in 1895 based after its earlier appearance of 1515. The Musee de la Ville de Bruxelles is located here, including the collection of delicate and bizarre outfits of the Manneken Pis. The House of the Dukes of Brabant (1698) occupies the eastern side of the square. It actually contains six separate guildhalls, although it looks like one large and unified elevation. The rest of the square is filled in with the skinny and decorated facades of the guildhalls. The various buildings house shops, restaurants, as well as museums dedicated to brewing and chocolates. No one facade stands out, but they put forth a team effort and a beautiful visual whole is the grand result.
by wanderer 2005
August 17, 2005
Brussels is more than a 1,000 years old and is also the European capital and home to the European Commission and the Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU).
Today, the name Brussels stands for an agglomeration of 19 communes forming one of the three regions of the federal Belgian state, the capital of the Kingdom of Belgium, and the headquarters of the French and Flemish Communities. The official languages are both French and Dutch. Street names and traffic sings are always in these two languages.
Grand Place is a wonderful historic place to spend the day. Cafés and chocolate shops line the square. Flower vendors are also available with the season’s brightest blooms.
Every 2 years, for 3 days only, in the tropical heat that is the Brussels summer, artists and horticulturalists join forces to create the greatest living carpet in the world! A flower carpet covers the entire square! Designs vary from year to year, and inspiration is drawn from all over the world.
The square is surrounded by some of the most beautiful architecture around, with Gothic buildings with spires and gold. It’s quite a sight. The cafés right on the square can be pricey, but the view is priceless. Take a walk down any of the side streets and you have a whole plethora of places to choose from. We stopped at an Italian place. I don’t remember the name (that’s SO not like me), but we had some pizza, and it was actually really good. I got the four-cheese, and one of the cheeses was gruyere. MY FAVE! It was SO freakin’ good. All I can remember about it was that it was right next to a Greek restaurant and across the street from another Italian place.
From journal Historic Brussels
April 7, 2005
Several of the buildings here are former Guild Houses, and it's possible to tell which ones are which depending on how they are decorated architecturally from the outside. An example of this: you can tell which building used to be the guild house of the shipbuilders because there are marine symbols on the building. If you are interested in this particular type of history, I would suggest taking a tour, because you will be able to learn more with a guide than simply by reading the pamphlets.
In addition to the guild houses, one of the buildings was the former residence of Victor Hugo. For those of you who may have forgotten history/literature, he is the individual who wrote both The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables. He actually described La Grande Place as the most beautiful square in the world. You should take a look and see for yourself.
The city hall was built in the 15th century, and you can tell the distinct difference in the building styles from this building and the guild houses. This is the building with the dominant bell tower that will be a focal point of several of your pictures. Here also is the lion’s staircase, always a good place to snap a few photographs. I would also suggest this as a meeting place if you are trying to gather a group, because simply saying La Grande Place does not narrow it down enough. Also, if you are lucky, you may catch a couple getting married, since everyone in Belgium is required to have a civil ceremony and many go to the Town Hall to perform this observance.
Opposite the Town Hall is the Maison du Roi (even though not a single King lived here). The majority of this building was rebuild in the 19th century; it is ornate and large and houses a museum inside.
In addition to simply the buildings, there are many bars/pubs/restaurants on La Grande Place. I would strongly suggest coming here at night for a drink (have a Belgian beer), sitting by the window, and simply enjoying the view. Between the people, the architecture, and the setting, it will be an experience you won’t forget.
My final bit of advice is to visit La Grande place twice. I know you are probably busy on your whirlwind tour of Brussels, but you won’t regret it. Visit La Grande Place the first time during the day and the second time at night. There will be a remarkable change in what you are seeing.
From journal Sensory Delight: Brussels, Belgium
June 17, 2004
The original Grand’Place was destroyed by king of France Louis XIV during the war against the Spanish, but the people of Brussels were quick to rebuild in a mix of Flemish Renaissance and gothic style. The most distinguishable building is the City Hall. It is the crown jewel of the square. If you look at it, you’ll see it is not symmetric. The legend says that when the building was finished and the architect came to see it, he felt so humiliated he climbed on top of the spire and jumped. The building is filled with statues gargoyles, soldiers, ladies, monks…
You can visit the City Hall. The other remarkable building is the Maison du Roi (or King's house), on the other side of the Grand'Place, where in fact the king has nothing to do with it. It takes its name from the chimney-sculpted figures of Charles V, King of Spain who was the ruler at the time. The building hosts the museum of the City of Brussels and that's where Manneken Pis has his wardrobe. It is not the original building. Most of it has been rebuilt in the 19th century.
Another noteworthy building: Le Cygne, The Swan house, with its beautiful Swan figure, is now a restaurant. In the 19th century, it was a tavern where exiles Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote their "Manifesto" .The Maison des Brasseurs (Brewers House) where the Brewey Museum is (you can visit and the price of a degustation is included). At the number 16, the" Windwill", French writer Victor Hugo lived for a month, when he was not making his researches in Waterloo for "Les Misérables". "Le Roy d'Espagne", King of Spain, has a great medieval-looking cafe-restaurant. And on the right side of the Square, there is the huge "Maison des Ducs de Brabant", house of Brabant Dukes.
From journal Must-See Brussels