La Grande Place is Brussels' more ornate square. It is composed of several buildings that represent the history or the country and the region. La Grande Place is a supreme example of architecture and a must-do for anyone in Brussels, whether for a day or a lifetime.
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.