What to see in Brussels: the Grand Place

Something to see, visit and enjoy in Brussels and Belgium ; this week : Grand-Place of Brussels

History of the Grand-Place
At the Grand-Place, numerous historic events took place:

  • 1523: the first Protestant martyrs, Hendrik Voes and Jan Van Essen, are burned by the Inquisition there
  • 1568: the counts of Egmont and Hoorn are beheaded there
  • August 1695: during the War of the League of Augsbourg, most of the houses on the Grand-Place were destroyed during a bombardment of the City by the French troops of marshal De Villeroy. Only the facade and the tower of the City Hall, which were the target, and some stone walls resisted the flaming canon balls. The houses surrounding the square were quickly reconstructed, in stone this time, by the various guilds. Among these, the house of the Brewers guild which shelters the Brewers Museum today.

Events on the Grand-Place
Nowadays, numerous festive or cultural events are organized on the Grand-Place:

  • The Flower carpet (77 x 24m, event organized every 2 years in mid-August and with more than 500.000 begonias
  • The Ommegang which commemorates the tribute created in 1549 during the coming of Charles the Fifth in Brussels to present it his son, the future Philippe II
  • The Zinneke Parade is a biennial parade held in the city of Brussels, Belgium since 2000; a different theme is chosen for each parade. ‘Zinneke’ is a nickname chosen to represent people from Brussels. The word originally referred to city stray dogs which hung around the streets by the Little Zenne (a tangent canal of the river Zenne which ran round Brussels along the city walls) until the end of the 19th century. The parade was established with the aim of connecting the many different cultures, communities and districts within Brussels. The director of the Zinneke association, Myriam Stoffen, has talked about the desire to ‘build bridges’ between these parts of the city. The organisers of the parade aim to work with a large variety of institutions, schools, cultural centres, organisations and societies. Residents work together with professional artists to create the ideas and prepare the projects which eventually make up the parade. Next one is in May 2018.
  • The Christmas tree
  • The daily flower market
  • The procession of the Meyboom