Tuesday, December 05, 2006

La Grand-Place, Brussels

The La Grand-Place is the central market square of Brussels. The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels next to the Atomium.
When entering the market place from one of the seven side-streets, one's eyes are drawn automatically to the gothic tower of the town hall pointing skywards.
The town hall has a 96-meter-high tower in Brabantine Gothic style. Legend has it that the architect committed suicide by throwing himself of the tower when he noticed that the tower was not in the middle (a better picture in the next posting).
Like most other legends surrounding the monuments of Brussels, this one also is not true.
The tower not being in the middle is simply the result of the fact that the right wing of the town hall could not be made as large as the left wing because the town authorities wanted to preserve the street next to the right wing.
The facade is decorated with numerous statues representing nobles, saints, and allegorical figures.
The decoration of the buildings are so remarkable. It is beautiful and exquisite.
Opposite the Town Hall and almost as grand is the Maison du Roi (Household of the King).
The building now hosts the Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles (the City Museum).
Its collection includes tapestries and altarpieces, as well as the costumes worn by the Manneken-Pis. The museum is devoted to all aspects of the city's history.
During the early Middle Ages small wooden houses were scattered around the market, but as from the 14th century the rich and powerful patrician families built stone mansions.
Gradually the market turned into the main commercial and administrative centre of the city.
In 1402 the construction of the town hall started and the square had by then already become the political centre where meetings were held, where executions took place and where dukes, kings and emperors where officially received.
The town hall has a Wedding Hall - a popular place to tie the knot and has been used for civil marriages of all residents living in Brussels.
The couples arriving in style - a luxury stretch limousine.
Everard 't Serclaes was made famous by his recovery of the city from the Flemish. Local superstition said that by rubbing (touching) the right hand of the statue can bring luck. But when I was there, seems like everybody touched the statue from his head till leg.
"One of the most beautiful town squares in Europe, if not in the world", is a phrase often heard when visitors in Brussels try to describe the beauty of the central market square.

Indeed, I spent alot of time wandering around and admiring the beautiful buildings.

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