The Place des Martyrs in Brussels took its name from the fallen heroes who were buried there after the fight for Belgium’s independence.
The square, with its elegant classical houses, was built in 1774-6, the creation of the architect Claude Fisco. Together with the Place Royale, which dates from the same period, it marked the beginning of a classical period of town building in Brussels.
Before the revolution it was called Place de Saint Michel and was a forum for markets and fairs. For a brief period after the French Revolution it was renamed Place de la Blanchisserie, as the site had been used for bleaching textiles before the square was built.
Shortly after the events of September 1830, the revolutionaries didn’t know what to do with the more then 450 dead and they decided to bury some of them on the square. The Provisory Government, appointed immediately after the Independence, decided in 1831 to create a national burial ground for the fallen of the Revolution. A special crypt was created underneath the square and in 1838 a monument in honour of the heroes was unveiled and the square acquired its final name of Place des Martyrs.
The square was very popular for Belgians and tourists alike, who wanted to see the site where the heroes were buried. Charlotte and Emily may have visited this square.
In recent decades, this beautiful square was badly neglected until one of its buildings was restored for use by one of the Flemish ministries. Slowly, restoration of the other houses followed and today, except for one or two very dilapidated buildings, the classical buildings have been restored to their former glory.