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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User Reviews

Saalim Abdullah (2 years ago)
The Town Hall of the City of Brussels is a Gothic building from the Middle Ages. It is located on the famous Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium, opposite the Museum of the City of Brussels. It is the only remaining medieval building of the Grand Place and is considered a masterpiece of civil Gothic architecture and more particularly of Brabantine Gothic.
Elvira Maahs (2 years ago)
Very nice building towered by other buildings. The architecture was phenomenal and the structure was awesome. Is just really fun to admire and to see how they made and the story is just awesome. The place is surrounded by golden buildings. It was definitely one of the most beautiful places I had seen. So much story behind and it just catch your eyes. Oh yes I would love to come back
uday khandkar (2 years ago)
What a huge historic icon. Visit in night.
Nicolas De Smyter (2 years ago)
Very nice and large building, towering over the neighboring buildings. The building has a lot of detail, which makes it nice to see. On the square (Grand Place) there are more buildings in the same style. I love the view, especially at night or in the evening when the lights are on. There are almost always a lot of tourists on the square, taking pictures and videos.
Mehmet Akif Demircan (3 years ago)
Great historical building with really interesting history. You ll notice that the building is not symmetrical. I suggest you to go with someone that actually know the history behind the building (tour guide or even your local friend) or you can google it too.
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