Grabbing lunch or a pint of beer at Grand Place is one of the major highlights of taking a road trip through Europe. Also known as Grote Markt, the square dates back to the late 17th century and is Brussels’ most significant landmark. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Grand Place consists of massive guildhalls, the Town Hall and the Museum of the City of Brussels.
Today, Grand Place is a vibrant part of Brussels, brimming with local eateries, restaurants, pubs, local artisan stores, souvenir stalls, and market produce. But in the past, it was the site of executions carried out by the Inquisition, as well as battles during the War of the League of Augsbourg.
Note: A good time to visit Grand Place would be in mid-August. The popular ‘Carpet of Flowers’ in Brussels, fills the square with color for four days on even-numbered years.
Do not miss Mannekin Pis, Brussel’s sweetheart. Believed to symbolize how Belgians regard authority, the peeing boy is a copy of the 1619 original statue (seized by French soldiers in 1747). Today, Mannekin Pis has a wardrobe of more than 800 costumes for ceremonial occasions. (I can’t believe a statue owns more clothes than my whole family put together!)
Nothing exudes ‘Belgium’ more than its waffles, and no one visits Brussels without digging into authentic Belgian waffles! You can find plenty for € 1.00 in Grand Place (toppings cost extra). Brussels’ specialty is the gaufre de liege-luikse wafel. I had one topped with nutella and strawberries. Simply delicious!