Grand Place in Belgium
UNESCO recognized the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium, as a World Heritage Site in the year 1998. It is one of the most popular and well known sites in the city, and thousands of visitors flock to the square each year to marvel at its architectural beauty and attractions. The name is derived from it being established as a marketplace. It has captured the imaginations of many over the years, including Archduchess Isabella in 1599, who commented: "Never have I seen something so beautiful and exquisite as the town square of the city where the town hall rises up into the sky. The decoration of the houses is most remarkable."
Brussels came into being during the tenth century when the Duke of Lower Lorraine ordered a fort to be built on Saint-Gery Island. The Lower Market was established in the eleventh century, and by the thirteenth and fourteenth century the rich had begun to construct stone mansions, a cloth market, meat market and a bread market bordering the Grand Place. Wooden structures were scattered in between the new structures. As the marketplace kept improving, vendors were able to sell their goods no matter what the weather, and the Dukes could keep an eye on sales to ensure they collected their taxes. The Grand Place also became an inspiration to writers and artists, with guild homes surrounding the market as well as the Breadhouse and the Brussels town hall.
Today, the use of the Grand Place has changed somewhat, with the marketplace being taken over by musical concerts, relaxing terraces and historical processions. The brewers’ museum is also located at the square, as well as renowned monuments such as the Manneken Pis and the Atomium. One of its most prized attractions only takes place every two years, when the square is transformed in color and fragrance. It is a tradition that began in 1971 and has continued until today, with millions of begonia flowers creating a carpet that is seventy seven meters in length and twenty-four meters in width, covering a total area of 19 000 square feet. The Grand Place is a noteworthy landmark in Brussels and an attraction that should not be missed.