Stock exchanges were born in the 15th century in Burgundy’s main trading centers of the north, now called Belgium. Then they were called bourses, from the Latin bursa or purse. While in Antwerp, take a gander at the Antwerp Stock Exchange close to the Town Square on Hofstraat. In the middle of the street you'll find an alley that leads to a small inner yard and there, in all its glory, is the Den Rhijn – the Old Stock Exchange. The old building was renovated in 1515 by architect Domien de Waghemakere, and it stayed there until roughly 1533. Interesting note: the circle in the stones of the yard indicate the diameter of the clockwork of the cathedral.
In 1531 a new stock exchange was built by the same architect, and this newer building is located off the Meir Street (Antwerp's largest shopping street) on Israëlietenstraat, or Twaalfmaandenstraat. It was the first building in the world that was designed specifically as a stock exchange and trade exchange. Sadly the whole shebang burnt down in 1858. The construction you see now is the 19th century neo-gothic renovation. Further interesting note: the 19th century renovation was so much admired that even Queen Elisabeth I had it copied and called it the Royal Exchange in London.
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