Hôtel de Ville


Laboriously built between 1444 and 1480, the splendid, slightly asymmetrical Hôtel de Ville was almost the only building on the Grand Place to escape the 1695 French bombardment – ironic considering it was their primary target. The stone facade is replete with Gothic gargoyles and reliefs. Its intricate tower soars 96m, topped by a gilded statue of St-Michel, Brussels’ patron saint. For 45-minute guided tours, go to the tourist office 40 minutes before the departure time to buy tickets.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Brussels attractions

1. Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat

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Exhibits at Brussels’ museum of cocoa and chocolate give you a quick rundown of chocolate’s history in Europe, along with chocolate’s anti-aging and…

2. Le Renard

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The haberdashers' guildhall has a statue of a fox above the door.

3. Le Cornet

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The boatmen's guildhall, fittingly, has a stern-shaped gable. Its name refers to the horn on its facade.

4. La Louve

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The archers' guildhall features a golden phoenix rising from the ashes, which signifies the rebirth of the Grand Place after its bombardment by the French…

5. Statue of Everard 't Serclaes

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A 1902 statue of city hero Everard ’t Serclaes depicts his reclining corpse. A fairly contemporary ‘tradition’ claims that rubbing the statue will bring…

6. Le Cygne

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The lovely butchers' guildhall, featuring a carved swan above the door, hosted Karl Marx in 1847. Ironically, it’s now home to the Grand Place's finest…

7. L’Étoile

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The square’s smallest building, surmounted by a star, is where city hero Everard ’t Serclaes died in 1388. A fairly contemporary ‘tradition’ claims you’ll…

8. Le Sac

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Perhaps as you'd expect, the cabinet-makers' guildhall is incredibly ornate. It takes its name from the sign above the door.