on December 17, 2011
Grand Place is the main square in Brussels and the area around which everything else revolves. Any trip to Brussels will include a visit to the square whether intentional or otherwise and it is a lovely place, full of amazing architecture and interesting buildings.The first place of interest on the square is the Hotel De Ville which is a gothic masterpiece that takes up all of one side of the Grand Place. The building from the outside is amazing and whether or not you are a budding architect, you can’t help but admire the intricate detail involved in every section of its facade. It was built in three different sections and the first part was started in the early 1400s, the right wing added in the mid 1400s and the 96m high bell tower later than this. Legend has it that the man who created the tower (Jan van Ruysbroeck) killed himself by jumping from the top. There are 400 steps to the top, but it is worth it because the views are understandably breath taking. We visited just before Christmas and rather than the Christmas markets we were expecting, there was a light show outside of the building during which lights dance eerily to classical music and it really is quite something to watch. There is also a tourist information on the ground level of the Hotel De Ville, where the staff are very helpful and you can pick up lots of information about other sights in the city as well as finding out about some very nice walking routes.There are various other buildings around the square that would be the key feature were it not for the impressive town hall, but despite that they are very photogenic in themselves. You can see the butcher’s guild where Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto. It has a sign outside so you know you are looking at the right place! There is also the Maison du Roi which houses the main town museum.There are lots of shops and restaurants on the Grand Place as well if you want to stop for a rest and many of them have floor to ceiling windows so you can watch the word go by. There are tables outside many of them so that you can enjoy the bustling atmosphere of the square in summer. Prices in these places do tend to be higher than off square locations, but that is to be expected. In one corner of the square opposite the Hotel De Ville there is a nice cafe called Amour, which does coffee and all manner of Belgian waffles topped with cream, fresh fruit and chocolate. It is nice place to sit and rest your feet. In the other corner on the same side there is a lovely chocolate shop. It is one of many in the area, but it offers a mouth watering selection of luxury chocolates and they let you try before you buy, which is always nice!If you are in the city, you should definitely visit Grand Place. Even if you don’t want to go into any of the buildings, you must admire them from the outside and even enjoy the atmosphere over a coffee and a bite to eat!
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