During the 10th century a fortified castle was built on an island in a swamp of the river Zenne. This meant birth for Brussels. Near the castle after the land reclamation, an open market grew by the name of 'Niedermerct'. In the 13th century houses were built arround this market place. They stood very near to eachother rather chaotically ordered seperated by the gardens. In the 14th century a fountain was placed on this market place which would last for 263 years.
Building the Town Hall quickened the regroupement of the buildings arround a square market place.
The square was the stage for many festivities, but also for the most dreadful executions.
In august of the year 1695 field marshall Villeroy, who served Louis XIV of France, laid siege to the town. The 'Grote Markt' was almost completely destroyed by the bombardments. Only the stone walls of the Town Hall (Stadhuis) and the structure of the King's House (Koningshuis) survived the disastre. But the people of Brussels rebuilt their market quickly and succesfully. In 1793, during the French Revolution, many statues representing Christian or of nobility were destroyed;
Some large scale building projects were avoided during the 19th century and thanks to the effort of Mayor Buls many of the finest buildings were restored (1882 - 1920).
Next to the Gothic Town Hall and Bread House (Broodhuis), the many facades show a rich collection of renaissance and baroque elements.
Here you can find amongst other buildings:
- The King of Spain (Den Coninck van Spaignien
- The Wheelbarrow (Den Cruywagen)
- The Sac (Den Sac)
- The She-wolf (De Wolvin)
- The Horn (Den Horen)
- The Fox (De Vos)
- The Star (De Sterre)
- The Swan (De Zwane)
- In the Guilded Tree (In Den Gulden Boom)
- The Rose (De Roos)
- In the Mountain Tabor (In Den Berg Thabor)
- House of the Dukes of Brabant (Huis der Hertogen van Brabant)
- The Guilded Boat (de Gulden Boot)
- The Pigeon (De Duif)
- The Small Ammans Room (Het Ammanskamertje)