Touted as one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, the Grote Markt (Grand Place) in Belgium’s capitol city of Brussels lived up to its expectations. Even on a cold, wintery and grey day, I was blown away at the beauty and detail of the architecture in this remarkable square.
For those visiting Brussels, I would suggest visiting the square both during the day and night. I happened to pass by during dusk and the lights pouring out from the restaurant windows illuminated the cobbled streets to create a beautiful setting.
The town hall (Stadhuis) is located on the righthand side of the above photograph and is undoubtedly the scene-stealer in the square. The origins of this gothic masterpiece date back to the 1400s and its 96-meter tower can be seen from various points throughout Brussels.
Stately and ornate row homes are the hallmark of Dutch architecture, and the Grote Markt holds perhaps some of the finest examples of this unique and distinct style. Built to show off the wealth of this former mercantile powerhouse during the 1500s and 1600s, guild houses were constructed around the square to represents the different trades of Brussels. Though today they mainly house restaurants, their grandeur remains.
There are so many adjectives that could be used to describe this tiny little slice of Belgium. It’s a photographer’s wonderland, an architect lover’s fantasy and a history buff’s dream. Clouded now by its responsibilities as the new capital of a united, yet struggling European Union, it is amazing to step back in time with the Grote Markt and truly appreciate the remarkable history of this humble city squeezed between Germany and France.