When in Brussels, Belgium, do what many other residents and tourists do – visit the marketplace and take in the beauty of the Guild Houses of Brussels. They are remarkable for their exterior décor, and of course for their history. Even though the term guild houses is used for all the houses on the marketplace square, not all of them belonged to the medieval guilds. Some of the homes were in fact privately owned. The major rasion d'etre of these fancy guild houses was to demonstrate the power and importance of their trade, and to participate in the political climate of the times.
In Brussels the guilds built their houses around the main town square. In 1865 after most of the Square was wiped out by the French bombardment, those who chose to rebuild had to submit plans before approval was granted. The town wanted the houses to have a unity of style and banish former irregularities. Interesting note: In the middle ages houses didn't have numbers they had names. Most often on Grand Place the names of the houses are indicated by a little statue or some part of the exterior decoration.
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