Here’s the real star of the Grand Place. Hôtel de Ville is comprised of a group of buildings built around an internal courtyard. The side facing the square was built in the 15th century. The stone façade features Gothic gargoyles and reliefs of nobility. The 96-meter tall tower is topped by a statue of St-Michel, Brussels’ patron saint, slaying a demon.
This building was the main target of the 1695 French bombardment, in which a 70,000-strong French army retaliated for Dutch and English attacks on French Channel ports. For two days, the French attacked with cannons and mortars, set the city on fire and flattened most of the buildings in the Grand Place and surrounding areas. Miraculously, Hôtel de Ville was the only building in the vicinity that was not hit.