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Often considered the world’s most beautiful square, the reputation of the Grand-Place in Brussels is already well established! Today, it still serves a political and an administrative purpose by housing the Brussels Town Hall, which continues to play host to the mayor and most of the aldermen. The prestigious venue plays host to a number of festive activities - including concerts, fairs, cultural events, a tree and nativity scene during Christmas, a light show, a flower carpet in summer, etc. - and symbolic events, such as receiving athletes following sporting events. Its history as a central marketplace dates back to the 12th century. Gradually, the square became home to many houses and market halls. At the time, these were still predominantly made of wood. The beautiful Gothic town hall was built over three phases during the 15th century. Within the same period, trade guilds were established in the houses bordering the Grand Place. Compared with today, the square played a greater role in people’s everyday lives. As already mentioned, it was a hive of economic activity, with market halls selling bread – in what is currently known as the Maison du Roi or Broodhuis –, meat, textiles, etc. On a cultural level, it would play host to theatrical performances, while, at the same time, serving at the city’s political epicentre and a judicial place of execution. In 1695, the square was almost completely destroyed following bombardment by the army of Louis XIV, requiring most of it to be rebuilt. Over the following centuries, and especially during the 19th, it would undergo further significant renovations and alterations to give it its current appearance. Since 1998, the Grand Place has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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