Upon walking into the Grand Place (Grote Markt) you first notice 3 things. The Town Hall, the King’s House, and the Guild Houses. The Town Hall on one side of the square with its grand tower and beautiful facade, the King’s house on the other side with almost the same, and the Guild Houses, in their glory, as they fill in the square between them.
The Guild Houses, just like their name implies, were for the Guilds of Brussels, which in today’s world, you might only see in a game of World of Warcraft or see on Game of Thrones. There were 9 guilds, but today only their Guild Houses remain.
The buildings themselves are masterpieces in their own right, and very highly recommended to visit them in different lighting settings.
First, come for the night-time glory…over and over people will tell you that they’re mind-blowingly beautiful at night when they’re lit up!
Then come in the daytime. The phrase “feels so ‘day and night’” is so true when it comes to the Guildhalls. Daytime is still beautiful, but not as beautiful as nighttime in the Grand Place.
These exquisite masterpieces of architecture are so old, and yet in such good condition! You really feel like you’re in another century, around the best and brightest designers in Europe (if not the world!).
Each of the 9 Guild Houses was created for a different guild, meaning that each house has different ornate subtle details that reflect the differences in the different guilds. Each Guild House is a work of art on its own, and worth taking the time to examine all their little details. One thing that’s different between them is their lettering style. Just think of how many hours of work, and how many people worked on them over time to make such detailed works of art!
Around Christmas time you can find Christmas festivals near the Guild Houses in Grand Place, complete with Christmas light shows, Christmas markets, and a large Christmas tree in the middle of the square worthy of the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City!
And one of the most interesting things about the Guild Houses is the Baker’s Guild House, at 1 Grand Place (the first Guild House). In 1695, the French bombarded Brussels and the Guild Houses were destroyed.
The guilds were responsible for rebuilding them, and the Baker’s Guild rebuilt their guild house into a bar, called Le Roy d’Espagne. The patron saint of bakers, Saint Aubert’s bust can still be seen right above the main entry, watching over his artisans. The whole bar feels like you’re in a medieval castle, which leads them to sometimes you’ll hear them saying they’re the oldest bar in Brussels. Whether it’s true or not, they sure do have some great waffles and beers!
Just like most famous bars in Belgium, you can choose from a wall of beers, from every flavor from strawberry to cherry to dark wheat to light blonde. In the daytime, sitting outside Le Roy d’Espagne, you’re in one of the best places in Grand Place to people-watch, at night, you have one of the best views of the whole square, lit up in its night-time glory!
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