La Grand-Place (Grote Markt)
Brussels’ town square, La Grand-Place, is one of the oldest features of the Belgian capital, with roots that date back to the 12th century. Today, the market stalls are gone but the square is full of history. Make a journey to the square to capture some historic Belgian flavor in the heart of the city.
For centuries La Grand-Place was filled with lively food vendors. Its primary function was as a food market, and the people of Brussels crossed the city to buy produce from local farms. Regal buildings from three distinct architectural periods, including the ornate Town Hall, surround the square. La Grand-Place is Brussels’ most prestigious attraction and was recognized as an internationally protected World Heritage site in 1998.
Visit the square to see some of the most important buildings in the city. The gothic spire of the Brussels Town Hall rises above the square and is visible from most parts of the city. The nearby Bread House, the bakers’ quarter of the market, is adorned by a number of spires and detailed sculptures. The buildings surrounding the square have the architectural characteristics of the gothic, baroque and Louis XIV periods.
While the food vendors haven’t been present in the square for many years, their legacy remains. The streets that surround the square are named for the foods that were commonly sold at the market, including chicken, cheese and herbs. You’ll find several traditional Belgian restaurants on the square, although the prices reflect the central location and can be pricey. Try Turkish and Mediterranean food in the smaller adjacent streets for a more modest dining experience.
La Grand-Place is located in the heart of Brussels, and can be reached by car or metro. There is some paid street parking in the area; however, these tend to fill early since the area is very busy. La Grand-Place is open daily and there is no admission fee.