Thursday, February 21, 2013

La Grand-Place

World Heritage Sites

Brussels is the city we knew nothing about.  It took us a long time before we found a decent room that summer.  It was around the corner from the most hideous building I had ever seen-- a monstrosity of Gothic, Romanesque and Babylonian architecture.  Our dinner was overpriced.   The city was crawling with tourists.  I couldn't breathe.

"Let's at least see the Grand Place before we bail," my travel buddy said.

"What's that?" I asked.

"I don't know.  I heard it's really beautiful.  Like Central Park."

Oh, brother!  When we turned the corner and entered this incredible plaza, we could not believe what we were seeing.  How could we not know about this place?  To this day, it remains THEE most beautiful city square in all of Europe.  Masterpieces of Medieval architecture are all here:  The Gothic City Hall and Flamboyant King's House, the houses of Dukes and prominent citizens, each one adorned with statues of patron saints or Greek gods.  We spent the rest of the day here.  Bought a guidebook (finally!) and walked around looking at every single building with their exquisite details.
   Because of its harmonious 17th century mix of both public and private buildings, it has been added to the World Heritage list.  It was (and still is) an important political and commercial center.  We ended up having lunch, cocktails and a delicious dinner of mussels and pommes frites on the square.  We simply could not pull ourselves away.  Because of La Grand-Place, we decided to spend another two days in Brussels.  So glad we did!

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