The Grote Markt or Grand Place, translated from Dutch, is located in the heart of the Brussels’ old town. As a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1998, this beautifully sculpted 15th century town square is the first place to visit on a trip to Brussels. The structures have an architectural influence from three different eras: Baroque, Gothic and Louis XIV.
The central square is surrounded by decorative guildhalls, the city’s impressive Town Hall and exquisite Maison du Roi (King’s House). Brussels Town Hall, which stands 315 ft tall, offers 45-minute guided tours in French, Dutch and English.
If you want to “oh and ah” at a room full of tiny costumes, then a visit to the City Museum, located in the King’s House should be added to your itinerary. The museum’s top floor contains many duplicated statues showing off the wardrobe of the peeing boy. Every two years in August, an enormous and colorful “flower carpet” display covers the cobblestones in the Grand Place. The carpet is made up of millions of flowers, perfectly placed to create a unique design and can be seen from above in the Town Hall.
Three blocks off of the Grand Place, the surprisingly small Manneken Pis (Peeing boy) statue can be spotted. Apparently, the little guy will frequently be dressed in costume for different events or holidays during the year and has over 700 costumes to date. There are many hokey legends about the symbolism of the bronze statue but to most he is a quirky symbol of a good life.
Arriving in Brussels: For our weekend trip to Brussels, we flew RyanAir from Venice Treviso airport to Brussels Charleroi. Once we arrived at the airport we hopped on board the Flibco shuttle bus. We purchased our tickets online prior to arrival in Brussels, but they do have a counter outside where you can purchase single trip or round trip tickets. The shuttle bus, which takes about 45 min to an hour, drops you off at the Midi-Zuid train station. From there we purchased a train ticket and jumped aboard the next train to Bruxelles Centraal.
Accommodation: We stayed one night at the centrally located Royal Windsor Hotel. A quick walk up from the Grand Place, this luxury (but affordable) hotel is also conveniently situated near the Centraal station. We really enjoyed staying at this hotel due to the friendly staff, spacious and inviting lobby, and clean, comfortable rooms.