Brussels' location on the shores of the Senne placed it on an important trade route between Bruges, Ghent and Cologne. As a result, the town grew rapidly into a city between the 11th and the 13th centuries. During this period, the Grand Place took shape, and the commercial center expanded to the Upper Town. Belgium passed from Frankish overlords into the control of the French in the Medieval period. It then passed relatively quickly between the Spanish, the Austrians and then to the Dutch in 1815, and as a result there is a blend of architectural styles present in the city today.
However, tensions mounted at the prospect of being ruled by the Dutch, and Brussels became the center of the Belgian Revolution in 1830, which saw the country establish its independence and a monarchy with relative ease. After a troubled beginning to the 20th century, Brussels rose from the ashes to become the political center of a new age, thanks in no small part to its location in the center of Western Europe.