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Place du Grand Sablon

Place du Grand Sablon (32)

The Place du Grand Sablon is located between the upper and lower parts of the city and is probably Brussels’ most charming square. The people of the city call it simply Sablon, which means “sand”, a name it was given because there used to be a sandy bog in the zone. 

You will notice that in this triangular and slightly sloped area is the Fountain of Minerva, which was designed in 1751 by Jacques Berge upon commission by Lord Thomas Bruce, the Earl of Aylesbury. Lord Bruce paid for this sculpture in gratitude to the city for providing him a home during his forced exile from England, which lasted for forty years. You will also notice that the figure of Minerva bears a medallion with the images of King Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa.

Furthermore, if you look around, you will notice that this is a very lively and elegant area of the capital, and is full of restaurants, tea rooms and antiques shops. So, if you need to take a short rest, head for any of the bars that surround the square and enjoy a good beer. You can also take a walk here on Saturday or Sunday morning, when some of the city’s most select inhabitants tend to come to buy one of the magnificent items of baking, sold by the famous pastry and chocolate makers, Wittamer. This famous establishment also has a tea room on the first floor although you will find that as it is a true Brussels institution, the prices are not exactly cheap. In the summer months, moreover, the bars set out their busy terraces on the street.

Moreover, if you come by at the weekend, you will encounter a hectic market for antiques of all kinds, the stalls of which, you will notice, respect the city’s symbolic green and red colours.

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