You may remember reading about the Sablon area being famous for antiques and art. It's true! It is one of the most attractive areas in Brussels, Belgium for these items. But it is important for more than just that reason. The Sablon Square is actually named for a time when it was still outside the city walls of the 12th century. This was at one time a small sandy road that people traveled to get to the city gates. Hundreds of feet tramping over this area hollowed out the road and exposed a yellowish earth layer. The sandy colored clay was called zavel (Dutch)/sablon (French).
During the 14th century, one small chapel in this area was elevated into a very important pilgrimage site where they worshipped at the feet of a special statue of Our Lady. It was during the 14th century that the town was walled in. Over the intervening centuries more people moved here and Brussels grew in population and stature. In the 19th century The Sablon got divided into two parts by the building of the Regentschapstraat/Rue de la Régence and the Sablon Church was renovated once again. On the east side of the Church a new park was created called De kleine zavel/Le petit sablon. To this day it is still surrounded by 48 little statues that represent the medieval guilds of Brussels.
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