The Grote Markt is the main square of Bruges, Belgium, located in the heart of the city and covering an area of one hectare. It is surrounded by historical buildings and monuments, such as the 12th-century belfry, the Provincial Court (originally a water hall that was demolished in 1787 and replaced by a classical building that served as a provincial court from 1850 and was rebuilt in neo-Gothic style in 1887 after a fire), and the statues of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, who fought against the French troops in the 14th century. The square was renovated in 1995, removing the parking spaces and making it mostly pedestrian, making it more suitable for celebrations. The renovated square reopened in 1996 with a concert by Helmut Lotti .
The ticket price to visit the belfry is 12 euros for adults, 10 euros for seniors (65+), and 6 euros for children (6-25). The ticket also includes access to the city museum and the folk museum.
The belfry is open every day from 9:30 am to 5 pm, except on January 1st and December 25th. The last admission is at 4:15 pm. The other buildings around the square are free to admire from the outside .
To get to the Grote Markt, you can follow the signs to the Belfort/center/historic center from any point in Bruges. You can also take public transport, such as buses or trains, to the central station and then walk for about 15 minutes to the square. Alternatively, you can rent a bike or a horse-drawn carriage to explore the city .
There are many things to see and do around the Grote Markt, such as climbing the 366 steps of the belfry to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, visiting the Provincial Court museum to learn about the history and culture of Bruges, admiring the medieval guild houses with their colorful facades and gabled roofs, watching the carillon concerts that take place every quarter hour from the belfry tower, enjoying a Belgian beer or a waffle at one of the many cafes and restaurants on the square, or shopping for souvenirs and local products at the market that takes place every Wednesday morning .
Some tips to make your visit more enjoyable are: avoid peak hours and weekends when the square can be very crowded, book your tickets online in advance to skip the line at the belfry entrance, wear comfortable shoes and clothes for climbing the stairs and walking around the cobblestone streets, bring a camera or binoculars to capture the details of the architecture and the views from above, and check out the events calendar to see if there are any festivals or celebrations taking place on the square .
If you want to learn more about the history and stories behind the Grote Markt and its surroundings, you can join one of the guided tours that are offered by various companies and organizations. Some examples are: Legends of Bruges Free Walking Tour, which starts every day at 9:45 am and 11:45 am from Burg Square (next to Grote Markt) and lasts for two hours; Bruges Highlights Bike Tour, which starts every day at 10 am from In&Uit Brugge (near Grote Markt) and lasts for three hours; or Bruges Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour, which starts every day from Grote Markt between 9 am and 6 pm (depending on weather conditions) and lasts for half an hour .
Some prohibitions that you should respect when visiting Grote Markt are: do not litter or damage any of the buildings or monuments, do not feed or touch any of the animals (especially horses), do not smoke or drink alcohol in public places (except in designated areas), do not make excessive noise or disturb other visitors or residents, and do not take photos or videos without permission inside museums or churches .