Brussels' Grand Place was filled with spectators last night, including the Royal Family and their guests, for the annual Ommegang, or "walk around" in Dutch. It has been a major annual event in the city since 1549. The festival huge parade focuses on local folklore and heritage. Matt and I didn't know quite what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised and rather impressed by such a grand show.
Below, the grand Maison du Roi (King's House) stands opposite the Town Hall. It once belonged to the Duke of Brabant, who was later crowned King of Spain, thus the title. After the French Revolution, the common people proclaimed it the "People's Palace," and it was later rebuilt in the neo-Gothic style at the end of the 19th Century. It now houses the Le Museé Communal, the Brussels City Museum.
The focus of this elaborate festival that each year brings the mideval moments to life in the Grand' Place is the empire of Charles V. Dazzling and colorful, the Ommegang's procession is organized to commemorate Charles's "Joyous Entry" into Brussels on June 2, 1549 when he, his son Don Philip, infant king of Spain and Duke of Brabant, and his sisters, Eleanor of Austria, Queen of France, and Mary of Hungary all watched as representatives from the crafts and trades of the city processed around the Grande Place.
The procession of royalty began with flag and banners twilled about, sometimes tossed and waving high among the backdrop of intricate and elaborate architecture.