Brussels Town Hall

Brussels, Belgium

The oldest part of the present Town Hall is its east wing together with a shorter belfry. It was built and completed in 1420 under direction of Jacob van Thienen. Initially, future expansion of the building was not foreseen, however, the admission of the craft guilds into the traditionally patrician city government apparently spurred interest in providing more room the building. As a result a second, somewhat longer wing was built on to the existing structure, with Charles the Bold laying its first stone in 1444.

The facade is decorated with numerous statues representing nobles, saints, and allegorical figures. The present sculptures are reproductions; the older ones are in the city museum in the 'King's House' across the Grand Place.

The 96 metre high tower in Brabantine Gothic style emerged from the plans of Jan van Ruysbroek, the court architect of Philip the Good. By 1454 this tower replacing the older belfry was complete. Above the roof of the Town Hall, the square tower body narrows to a lavishly pinnacled octagonal openwork. Atop the spire stands a 5-metre-high gilt metal statue of the archangel Michael, patron saint of Brussels, slaying a dragon or devil. The tower, its front archway and the main building facade are conspicuously off-centre relative to one another. According to legend, the architect upon discovering this 'error' leapt to his death from the tower. More likely, the asymmetry of the Town Hall was an accepted consequence of the scattered construction history and space constraints.

After the bombardment of Brussels in 1695 by a French army under the Duke of Villeroi, the resulting fire completely gutted the Town Hall, destroying the archives and the art collections. The interior was soon rebuilt, and the addition of two rear wings transformed the L-shaped building into its present configuration: a quadrilateral with an inner courtyard completed by Corneille Van Nerven in 1712. The Gothic interior was revised by Victor Jamar in 1868 in the style of his mentor Viollet-le-Duc. The halls have been replenished with tapestries, paintings, and sculptures, largely representing subjects of importance in local and regional history.

The Town Hall accommodated not only the municipal authorities of the city, but until 1795 also the States of Brabant. In 1830, a provisional government assembled here during the attempt of the Third French Revolution which provoked the separation of the Southern Netherlands from the Northern Netherlands. resulting in the formation of Belgium as is known presently.

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Details

Founded: 1420-1444
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Belgium

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rajee J (2 years ago)
One of the places you should never miss to visit if you be at Brussels is this place. You get to get lost in the beauty of the architecture and the history of this place. Either try reading a bit about the place before visiting there or opt a walking tour to get to know more about the place. It’s so beautiful and mesmerizing!
Martin Zagorov (2 years ago)
Incredible architecture and size! It's a must-see sight in Brussels. Indeed, the whole square is truly amazing. Also, next to it is located Hard Rock Cafe. Actually, the square with the Town Hall is one of the biggest sightseeings in Brussels. Definitely visit it!
Vicente López (2 years ago)
The town hall is a landmark of Gothic architecture whose visit is essential. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. It is worth your visit and spend some time understanding its geometry, structure, shapes and design. But, you'll be able to appreciate it better if you read some of its history while you're there. This will serve to better understand its cultural and artistic value and its significance in the city.
Faisal Imdad (2 years ago)
Beautiful, historic and a very calm place. It is a square full of history and creativity. I can spend hours in this place. The buildings around this square are beautiful, full of history and art work. And this is definitely a never miss destination. If you are coming to Brussels and can hit only one spot, that is your spot.
Binxu748er (2 years ago)
What a beauty. People who joined tours about the town hall will know it's little secrets and special sides, which may be funny to know. The high peak is beautiful and matches with the rest of the grand square. During the flower carpet event, one could come up to the terrace of the town hall to take a view from above. Loved it.
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