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Wonder #11: Grand Place, Belgium | Wonder of the World Series by Travelexpro

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About The Wonder

In the heart of Brussels, Belgium lies a marvel of architectural splendor and historical significance: the Grand Place, also known as Grote Markt. This iconic square, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, serves as a living testament to the rich tapestry of Belgian history and culture. Steeped in centuries-old tradition, the Grand Place mesmerizes visitors with its breathtaking ensemble of Gothic and Baroque buildings, each adorned with intricate facades and ornate details that tell stories of bygone eras. At the center of it all stands the majestic Town Hall, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that commands attention with its towering spire and imposing presence. Surrounding the square are the opulent guildhalls, once the bustling centers of trade and commerce, now serving as a visual feast for admirers of art and architecture. But the Grand Place is more than just a collection of remarkable buildings; it is a living, breathing symbol of civic pride and resilience, having endured wars, fires, and the passage of time to remain an enduring beacon of Brussels' identity. From its humble beginnings as a bustling marketplace to its current status as a cultural landmark and tourist magnet, the Grand Place continues to captivate the imaginations of all who set foot upon its cobblestone streets, inviting them to partake in its rich history and timeless beauty.

Location Map

History

The narrative of Grand Place stretches back to the 12th century, with its completion in the current design realized in the 17th century. Initially, the square's buildings were primarily wooden structures.

A significant portion of the square's architecture was decimated during the French bombardment of 1695, necessitating extensive reconstruction.

For many years, Grand Place served as a vibrant marketplace for merchants, traders, and everyday townspeople to exchange goods. This tradition was so enduring that the streets surrounding the square bear names of various foods, reflecting its long history as a hub of trade.

How To Get There? 

The airports nearest to the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium, include:

  • Brussels Airport (BRU): Also known as Brussels National Airport, Brussels Airport is the primary international airport serving Brussels and is located approximately 12 kilometers northeast of the city center.
  • Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL): Situated about 46 kilometers south of Brussels, Brussels South Charleroi Airport serves as a hub for low-cost airlines and offers flights to various destinations across Europe and beyond.

Here are the Recommended durations and preferred modes of transportation from the major airports to the Grand Place in Brussels are as follows:

From Brussels Airport (BRU):

  1. Duration: Approximately 20-30 minutes by taxi or private car, depending on traffic conditions.
  2. Preferred mode of transportation:
  • Taxi: Taxis are readily available at Brussels Airport, offering a convenient and direct option to reach the Grand Place. The journey typically takes around 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic.
  • Train: The airport is also served by a train station located directly beneath the terminal building. Travelers can take a train from Brussels Airport to Brussels Central Station, which is within walking distance of the Grand Place. The journey takes around 20-25 minutes, making it a convenient option for those looking to avoid traffic.

From Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL):

  1. Duration: Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes by taxi or shuttle bus.
  2. Preferred mode of transportation:
  • Shuttle Bus: Several shuttle bus services operate between Brussels South Charleroi Airport and Brussels city center. The journey typically takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on traffic and the specific shuttle service chosen. Once in Brussels city center, travelers can take a taxi or walk to the Grand Place.
  • Taxi: Taxis are available at Brussels South Charleroi Airport, providing a convenient but more expensive option for reaching the city center and the Grand Place. The journey duration may vary depending on traffic conditions.

Visa Requirements

For USA citizens visiting Belgium, including the Grand Place in Brussels, the visa requirements depend on the purpose and duration of the visit. USA citizens can enter Belgium and stay for up to 90 days within 180 days without requiring a visa for tourism, business, or family visits. For visa information and application procedures, please refer to our "Apply for Visa" section on our website.

Accommodation Areas

Brussels City Center (Centrum):

  • Distance to Grand Place: Within walking distance (less than 1 km)
  • Description: Staying in the city center puts you right in the heart of the action, with easy access to the Grand Place, as well as other attractions, restaurants, and shopping areas.

Ixelles / Ixelles-Elsene:

  • Distance to Grand Place: Approximately 2-3 km
  • Description: Ixelles is a trendy and diverse neighborhood known for its lively atmosphere, art nouveau architecture, and vibrant dining scene. While it's a bit further from the Grand Place, it offers a more local experience with plenty of cafes, bars, and boutiques to explore.

Saint-Gilles:

  • Distance to Grand Place: Approximately 3-4 km
  • Description: Saint-Gilles is a multicultural neighborhood with a bohemian vibe, known for its eclectic mix of architecture, street art, and international cuisine. While it's a bit farther from the Grand Place, it offers a unique and authentic Brussels experience.

European Quarter:

  • Distance to Grand Place: Approximately 2-3 km
  • Description: The European Quarter is home to the European Union institutions and is known for its modern architecture, wide boulevards, and green spaces. While it's a bit farther from the Grand Place, it offers a quieter atmosphere and easy access to public transportation.

Language 

The official languages of Belgium are Dutch, French, and German. However, in Brussels, which is the capital and largest city of Belgium, both French and Dutch are widely spoken. French tends to be more dominant in Brussels, particularly in the central and southern parts of the city, while Dutch is more prevalent in the northern suburbs. Additionally, English is commonly spoken, especially in tourist areas, hotels, restaurants, and among younger generations. Therefore, visitors to Brussels should generally not encounter significant language barriers, especially when navigating popular tourist attractions like the Grand Place.

Here are some simple tips for travelers to communicate more easily in Brussels:

  • Learn Basic Words: Know a few simple words like "hello," "thank you," and "please" in French or Dutch.
  • Use a Translation App: Have a translation app on your phone to help with understanding and speaking.
  • Bring a Phrasebook: Carry a small book with common phrases in case you need it.
  • Speak Slowly and Clearly: When you talk, take your time and try to be clear so people can understand you better.
  • Use Hand Gestures: Sometimes, using your hands or pointing can help get your message across.

Currency

The currency used in Belgium is the Euro (€), abbreviated as EUR.

Here are some fun facts about the Grand Place in Brussels:

  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Grand Place was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 due to its outstanding universal value and significance.
  • Flower Carpet: Every two years in August, a stunning flower carpet is created in the center of the Grand Place, consisting of over 600,000 fresh flowers laid out in intricate designs.
  • Renowned Architecture: The guildhalls surrounding the square feature a mix of architectural styles, including Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance, showcasing the city's rich architectural heritage.
  • Symbolic Venue: The Grand Place has been a central gathering place for civic events, festivals, and celebrations throughout its history, serving as a symbol of Brussels' identity and unity.
  • Historic Town Hall: The Town Hall, with its iconic spire, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Brussels and serves as a symbol of the city's municipal power and prestige.
  • Belgian Beer Culture: The Grand Place is surrounded by numerous cafes and bars where visitors can sample Belgium's famous beers, including Trappist ales, lambics, and Abbey beers.
  • Floral Clock: In addition to the flower carpet, the Grand Place also features a floral clock during the warmer months, adding to its charm and beauty.
  • Christmas Market: During the holiday season, the Grand Place hosts a festive Christmas market, complete with twinkling lights, holiday decorations, and traditional food and drink stalls.
  • Musical Performances: The Grand Place often serves as a backdrop for musical performances, concerts, and cultural events, adding to its lively atmosphere and cultural significance.
  • Famous Filming Location: The Grand Place has been featured in numerous films and television shows, showcasing its stunning beauty and historic ambiance to audiences around the world.

The best time to visit the Grand Place in Brussels

  • Spring (April to June): Spring is a delightful time to visit Brussels, with mild temperatures and blooming flowers adding to the charm of the Grand Place. This season is ideal for exploring the city on foot and enjoying outdoor activities.
  • Summer (July to August): Summer is the peak tourist season in Brussels, and the Grand Place can be bustling with visitors. However, this time of year also brings numerous festivals, events, and outdoor concerts to the square, creating a lively atmosphere.
  • Fall (September to November): Fall is a lovely time to visit Brussels when the crowds start to thin out, and the city is bathed in golden hues. The Grand Place takes on a cozy ambiance, and you can enjoy seasonal treats like Belgian waffles and chocolate.
  • Winter (December to February): Winter transforms the Grand Place into a magical wonderland, with the square adorned with festive lights and decorations. The Christmas market adds to the festive atmosphere, and you can warm up with a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate.

Recommended Activities 

 

 

 

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