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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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

David Martínez Falcó (34 days ago)
Brussels townhall is very unique. It has evolved a lot during its history. Visiting it with a tour is a very nice way to learn its history. The building has very nice rooms that are using in a daily basis by its Mayor.
Jack Smith (3 months ago)
They are beautiful Rococo style buildings . Built in around 1690-1697 . The year of 1696 was displayed on the top of building. … worth to spend some time here .
Vikram Chopra (6 months ago)
How could someone not give this place 5 ⭐️? Amazing place. Amazing building. God knows how old - but I’m sure there’s a bit of Congo in that building.
Ayumi Mizobe (10 months ago)
I’ve been here on Christmas to watch the Christmas light show. It was nice and beautiful but there were so many people!
David Steegen (2 years ago)
Best place in the world. Most beautiful town Square of the universe
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