- The guildhalls were built on the Grand' Place following construction of the Hôtel de Ville. The imposing town hall on the ancient market square induced merchants and craftsmen, who had acquired a share in city government after the rising of 1421, to build edifices worthy of their new status. Early wooden buildings were replaced by stone and architectural features, from crowstepped gables and trefoiled windows (16th century) to Italianate-Flemish elaborate ornamentation (17th century), in reflecting the era in which structures were built. The bombardment of 1695 destroyed virtually every building. However, reconstruction was swift. The city council issued a decree enjoining the guilds and other owners to submit plans for the reconstruction of their premises. Fines were threatened against those who did not comply. Designs that won approval are evidenced in the existing buildings, which are each unique in style while also architecturally harmonious as a group. The guildhalls include:- Roi d'Espagne (King of Spain [1696-1697]). The hall belonged to the guild of bakers and it reflects a more classical style than its neighbors. Its design is attributed to Jean Cosyn, a sculptor as well as an architect. It was rebuilt in 1902.- La Brouette (the Barrow [1644-1645, 1697]). The hall of the tallow merchants survived the bombardment intact. The Italianate-Flemish façade was completed by Jean Cosyn, who designed the gables.- Le Sac (the Bag [1645-1646, 1697]). The hall of the cabinet makers and coopers was built in the Italianate-Flemish style by an unknown architect and partially rebuilt by Antoine Pastorana, a joiner, who added the elaborate ornamentation.- La Louve (the She-wolf [1690 and 1696]). The hall of the archers' guild was first recorded in the 14th century. It was destroyed by fire in 1690, rebuilt, and rebuilt again after 1695.- Le Cornet (the Horn of Plenty ). The hall of the guild of the river boatmen was originally known as the Hill. It was renamed by the guild in 1434. A superb representation of the Italianate-Flemish style, the frontage was designed by Antoine Pastorana.- Le Renard (the Fox ). The guildhall of the haberdashers, its architecture reflects a mingling of the classical with the baroque.- L'Étoile (the Star [ca. 1697]). One of the oldest guildhalls, mentioned in documents dating from the 13th century, it housed the offices of the city bailiff and the amman. The smallest building on the Grand' Place, it was destroyed in 1695, rebuilt, and demolished again in 1852 to widen the rue de l'Étoile (today, rue Charles Buls). Reconstructed in 1897, the ground floor has been replaced by arcades. The sculpture in the passage depicts Evarard t'Serclaes. It is a tradition that touching the figure brings good luck.- Le Cygne (the Swan ). Rebuilt by Pierre Fariseau, a private owner, the building was acquired by the butchers' guild in 1720. Its design reflects a trend away from the elaborate ornamentation of Italianate-Flemish architecture toward Louis XIV style.- L'Arbe d'or (the Golden Tree ). Destroyed in 1695, the building was acquired by the brewers' guild, which purchased it from the guild of tanners and tapestry weavers. Built by architect Guillaume de Bruyn, it encompasses elements of Flemish baroque and neoclassicism. An equestrian statue of Charles of Lorraine was placed atop the building in 1752, a replacement of one of Maximilian II Emmanuel, which had fallen to pieces. The Belgian Brewers' Association and the Brewery Museum occupy the building.- La Chaloupe d'or (the Golden Boat ) and La Taupe (the Mole). The buildings belonged to the guild of tailors. They were built with a façade in the Flemish baroque style by Guillaume de Bruyn.- Le Pigeon (the Pigeon ). The hall of the painters' guild, it was built by architect Pierre Simon, who also designed the façade.- Maison des Ducs de Brabant (House of the Dukes of Brabant ). This massive building comprises a collection of six houses with a common façade. They include L'Ermitage (the Hermitage); La Fortune (Fortune), the former hall of the tanners; Le Moulin à Vent (the Windmill), the millers' hall; Le Pot d'étain (the Pewter Pot), hall of the carpenters and wheelwrights; La Colline (the Hill), hall of the quarrymen, stonecutters, sculptors, and masons; and La Bourse (the Stock Exchange). They occupy the southeast side of the Grand' Place and the name derives from the 19 busts decorating the bases of the pilasters on the common façade. They were rebuilt after 1695 by Guillaume de Bruyn.Other buildings include La Chambrette d'amman (the House of the amman). Also known as Aux Armes de Brabant (the Brabant Arms) or Le Marchand d'or (the Gold Merchant), the building was used as a residence by the amman. Buildings including Le Paon (the Peacock), Le Petit Renard (the Little Fox), Le Chêne (the Oak), Sainte-Barbe (Saint Barbara), L'Âne (the Donkey), and La Balance (the Scales) are all representative of Flemish baroque style.See also Maison du Roi.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.