The official founding of Brussels is usually considered to be 979. The town grew rapidly and extended towards the upper town (higher ground) where there is a smaller risk of floods. In 1225 work began on the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. The Grand Place was where Brussels traditionally conducted its business. In 1407, they began construction of the City Hall at this location and eventually, the square was filled with a variety of Guild Halls representing all of the trades.
In 1695, during the Nine Years’ War, French King Louis XIV sent troops to bombard Brussels with artillery. Together with the resulting fire, it was the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels. Most of the Grand Place was destroyed (with the exception of the City Hall) along with 4,000 buildings. The Guild Halls were all rebuilt within five years, an impressive accomplishment. Continue reading