The Grand Place or Grote Markt is the central square of Brussels. It is surrounded by guildhalls, the city's Town Hall, and the Breadhouse. The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels. It measures 68 by 110 metres (223 by 360 ft), and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The market likely developed around the same time as the commercial development of Brussels. A document from 1174 mentions a lower market (Latin: forum inferius) not far from the port on the Senne river. The market was well situated along the Causeway (Dutch: Steenweg), an important commercial road which connected the prosperous regions of the Rhineland and the County of Flanders.
The Grand Place continued to serve as a market until November 19, 1959, and it is still called the Great Market or Grote Markt in Dutch. Neighbouring streets still reflect the area's origins, named after the sellers of butter, cheese, herring, coal and so on. The Grand Place was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1998. One of the houses was owned by the brewers' guild, and is now the home of a brewers' museum.
Every two years in August, an enormous "flower carpet" is set up in the Grand Place for a few days. A million colourful begonias are set up in patterns, and the display covers a full 24 by 77 metres (79 by 253 ft), for area total of 1,800 square metres (19,000 sq ft). The first flower carpet was made in 1971, and due to its popularity, the tradition continued, with the flower carpet attracting a large number of tourists.
In Popular Culture
- The second and third series of the BBC television series Secret Army were filmed here in 1978 and 1979, specifically around the building that is now Maxim's restaurant.
- In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the protagonist, Marlow, refers to the Grand Place as a "white sepulchre."