Around 1100 a wooden building was constructed on the location of the current Gravenzaal of the City Hall. Traces of this building were found in 1955. After large fires in 1347 and 1351, William II, Count of Holland donated the remains of the Gravenzaal to the city's municipality. A new building was built there. The central square building dates from the Middle Ages, but the distinctive façade of the building was designed by architect Lieven de Key and built from 1602-1604. The way it originally looked can be seen in a painting from 1460 by the Master of Bellaert. Originally the city hall was just the front of the building, and the rear cloister belonged to the Dominican brotherhood. After the Protestant Reformation this came into the possession of the city council and it is now a large complex with offices and meeting rooms. Both the Frans Hals Museum and the Haarlem Public Library originally were located in the city hall.
The town hall was traditionally a gathering place for various gentlemen, and the Dutch Society of Science started meeting there in 1752, which was the beginning of a municipal museum for natural history, that today no longer exists, though its 'competitor' founded in 1781 still does; namely the Teylers Museum. When they moved out, the paintings stayed and they became the Haarlem municipal museum, which moved out in 1913 to become the Frans Hals museum.
A large number of paintings and objects from Haarlem's rich history can be found inside the building. One series of paintings depict the various counts of Holland, starting from Dirk I to Maximilian from Austria. In the Middle Ages these paintings were hanging in the Carmelieten Cloister in Haarlem; they were painted between 1486 and 1491. In 1570 it is mentioned in city archives that the paintings were hanging in the City Hall; possibly they were moved there in 1566 to protect them from the iconoclastic riots. Other paintings and objects are either part of the original interior, or too big to fit in the Frans Hals Museum.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.