La Grand Place
La Grand Place is surely one of the liveliest and populated spots in town, and it represents the historical and cultural heart of Brussels, with hundreds of tourists walking over its cobbled pavement.
The square as we know it today was shaped around the XV century, but it was severely damaged by cannons in 1695 during the war against the French. Only the town hall, Hotel de Ville, was kept untouched, as well as the two façades of corporations palaces.
The Grand Place, with its remarkable Renaissance Flemish style, is the result of precise urban rules which were followed by the architects of the age when reconstructing the square. The square is overlooked by several important buildings: the Maison du Roi, the old residence of the Spanish monarchs, which has been converted into the City Museum (Musée de la Ville), where one can admire a fine collection of paintings and tapestries of the XVI century; the Pigeon, which played host to the French writer Victor Hugo.
The neoclassic Maison des Ducs de Brabant, which name comes from the stone busts of the Brabant dukes decorating the façade; the Maison de Boulangers (also known as Roi d’Espagne), built by the corporation of the bakers and converted into one of the most elegant cafés of the city; the Renard, raised up in 1690, and the Cornet, both built by other corporations.
At the south-west entrance of the square lies the most charming building: the town hall Hotel de Ville.
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