Let’s talk about the Grand Place, Brussels, today.
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Hi everyone! So this world wonder is not a monument per se, rather its a market square. It’s also not as well-known as the Eiffel Tower but maybe that is just me because I found out about it only in my pre-vacation research. Today, we are talking about the central market square of the city of Brussels, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful market squares in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Grand Place or the Grote Markt, as the locals call it.
On the beautiful sunny afternoon of 5th June 2017, we reached Brussels, capital of Belgium and the seat of power of the European Union and were soon walking to our first stop a.k.a the one in the spotlight today, the Grand Place. Now, Brussels, unlike Paris, as a city, I didn’t have any pre-set notions about. For me, it’s always been the capital of the EU, capital of the fantastic country that came up with the godsend to food that are Belgian waffles (And Belgian fries and Belgian chocolate) and the capital of the country that came up with the brains behind my childhood comic book hero, Tintin. In simple words, I loved(Read love) Belgium as a country because it was responsible for the many loves I have had through life.
In real life though, from my experience, Brussels is a city whose power, authority and responsibility shine through. It is very organised, calm, peaceful, clean and laid out very well. The peace of Brussels after the glitz of Paris(As much as I love Paris) was honestly, a highly welcome change.
Getting back to our topic, we walked through a street or two, not many, and there we were, in the middle of the market square’s main square. (Aha!) The ornate, beautiful architecture of all the buildings in sight was the first thing that caught my eye. Then, the gold on the many Guildhalls glinting in the sun did. Yes, the nine Guildhalls of the Grand Place, have actual gold on the buildings. Regardless of whether current slang is considered or not, the buildings were golden.
As I looked up, the bell tower of the town hall, stuck out. That brought my attention to the gothic style town hall and how it didn’t seem to be even. The tower was off centre vis the hall itself. There’s even a legend to do with this that our guide told us of when I asked her about this. It is believed that when the architect realised this calculation error of his upon the construction of the town hall, he committed suicide. Nevertheless, the building was extremely breathtaking and the architecture was in my opinion, exceptional.
We decided to venture into one of the many streets. On turning the corner, the heavenly smell of chocolate was everywhere and on all sides, beautiful, cute, tiny and huge, colourful chocolate stores popped up. I’m only human, so I went in and had more samples of delicious, smooth, rich chocolate( At multiple stores, please, I have some self-respect. ) than I will ever admit. I am happy to report that at this point I was convinced already that I loved the Grote Markt very much.
On turning the next corner, I spied through the corner of my eye amazing Tintin street art.(Which is pictured below.) The street art, comic book based and otherwise, didn’t stop after that and the Grand Place is for sure, the abode for amazing street art. That’s also when I noticed that we were surrounded by comic stores, tons and tons of them. Imagine an entire Tintin themed or even an entire Asterix and Obelix themed store. I didn’t even think it could be real but hey, there they were. My childhood self would’ve died to be there. My adult self nearly did. So, the themed comic stores were my second Grand Place adventure. Could I love this place more? ( Answer: Yes, I could. Let’s continue and you’ll know why. )
At the end of the street, we had reached the Manneken Pis or the Boy Who Pisses. It is a rather cheeky bronze sculpture of a naked little boy well, peeing. It is considered an important symbol of the city of Brussels itself. The story behind that goes, that long long ago while Brussels was under siege by foreign powers, the foreigners decided to place explosives around the city. The little boy pissed on the burning fuse of the explosives and unknowingly saved the city. To commemorate him and his ‘valour’, the sculpture was made.
From here, we turned onto a different street, driven to that by waffles for a euro sign I saw and essentially dragged everyone towards. This street was where I was convinced we had entered some sort of wormhole to waffle heaven because there were waffles being sold EVERYWHERE. Waffles with different colourful toppings in all shop displays, the aroma of fresh waffles, the names of various kinds of waffles just flying around, and the taste eventually, that street was a treat for all senses! Of course, we rushed in and got our own waffle and yes, it was the best and the most delicious Belgian Waffle I ever had! I can now say I’ve had a Belgian Waffle, literally. (Bucket list item, check.) At this point, The Grand Place had my heart. (Or was it the waffles? We may never know.)
With that, our adventures with the Grand Place were all done. The reason why I liked that place were many (Read the street art, the chocolates, the waffles, and the comic stores), but the biggest is how it offers you Belgium’s best, quite literally. Each street was a delight and I barely scratched the surface of the Grand Place, so I can’t even imagine what treasures the many other streets must hold. It is a mini slice of the Belgian culture and everything that makes it what it is and is especially a glimpse into the old Belgium, with the medieval architecture of the Guildhalls, the town hall, the horse-driven carriage rides and whatnot.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that The Grand Place now holds a Grand Place in my heart (Cheesy, but I had to. How could I let this opportunity pass? )I would definitely love to go there again to find more of my favourites just tucked away one street corner away from each other.
THIS POST’S QUESTION: Have you ever been to the Grand Place? What was your favourite thing about it? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!
For the next post in the series, click here.