The Capital of Europe’s most famous site (protected under the auspices of UNESCO’s World Heritage scheme since 1998). Yes, it can only be Grand’Place (or Grote Markt in Flemish).
The Grand'Place's origins are nothing fancy. During the early Middle Ages, small wooden houses were scattered around it, until in the 14th century the city's fathers began to built stone mansions. The resulting market was soon the bustling commercial and administrative centre of the city. Even executions took place there.
But Grand'Place could well have gone the way of many of Brussels' architectural gems – flattened similarly to other sites and buildings in the much-later disastrous era for city planning dubbed bruxellisation - but one city mayor had the foresight to ensure that the houses were preserved as much as possible in their original style.
Off course, today, tourists are everywhere ‘oh-goshing’ and getting in the way with their fancy cameras. Or sitting on terraces sipping outrageously expensive beer.
But Grand’Place is a Brussels 'must-see', especially during the Christmas period with its cool light shows and most definitely when the amazing biennial floral carpet is available for viewing. Late August 2012, as it happens…