Antwerp City Hall

Antwerp, Belgium

The Antwerp City Hall was erected between 1561 and 1565 after designs made by Cornelis Floris de Vriendt and several other architects and artists, this Renaissance building incorporates both Flemish and Italian influences. The City Hall is inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List along with the belfries of Belgium and France.

In the 16th century Antwerp became one of the busiest trading ports and most prosperous cities in Northern Europe. The municipal authorities wished to replace Antwerp's small medieval town hall with a more imposing structure befitting the prosperity of the great port city. Antwerp architect Domien de Waghemakere drafted a plan (c. 1540) for a new building in a style typical of the monumental Gothic town halls of Flanders and Brabant.

But the threat of war prevented any progress on the project. The building materials intended for the city hall were instead used to shore up the city defenses. Not until about 1560 new plans were developed. In the meantime Gothic architecture had gone out of fashion. The new designs for the city hall were in the new Renaissance style. Completed in 1565, the building lasted hardly a decade before being burnt to a shell in the Spanish Fury of 1576. It was restored three years later.

The low arcaded ground story is of rusticated stone, and at one time housed little shops. Above are two stories with Doric and Ionic columns separating large mullioned windows, and a fourth story forming an open gallery. The richly ornamented central section, which rises above the eaves in diminishing stages, holds female statues representing Justice, Prudence, and the Virgin Mary, and bears the coats of arms of the Duchy of Brabant, the Spanish Habsburgs, and the Margraviate of Antwerp.

Renovations during the late 19th century by architects Pierre Bruno Bourla, Joseph Schadde and Pieter Jan August Dens drastically modified the interior. Much of the stately decoration dates from this period, as does a roof over what was once an open-air inner courtyard. A number of the leading Antwerp historical painters were invited to assist with the decorations. Henri Leys painted a series of murals depicting key events in Antwerp's history and portraits of former Belgian rulers for the Leys Hall.

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Details

Founded: 1561-1564
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Belgium

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

J H (2 years ago)
Nice place with lots of restaurant and bars
Simon Sitorus (2 years ago)
I was here for study 40 years ago, and the beautiful of the city still stunting, I use to walk from Ahrensberg to City hall at the time. Thanks for the friendly people there.
Krikor Postalian (3 years ago)
Silvius Brabo [ˈsɪɫviəz ˈbraːboː] was a mythical Roman soldier who was said to have killed a giant, and by this would have created the name Brabant. Later this story was also used to explain the name Antwerp ('Antwerpen' in dutch) which, according to the story, is a derivative of 'handwerpen' meaning hand throwing). Brabo once killed a giant, called Druon Antigoon, who asked money from people who wanted to pass the bridge over the river Scheldt. When they didn't want to or couldn't pay, he cut off their hand and threw it in the river. Because of this, Brabo also removed the hand of the giant, and threw it into the river. This mythical story is still shown by the statue in front of the Antwerp City Hall.
Fausty (3 years ago)
Love Antwerp! There's always some interesting thing going on, just like most big cities!
James Corfield (4 years ago)
The market square in Antwerp is really beautiful, just as most of the city. I've only visited shortly from time to time for business. First time I actually visited the historic centre and i can definitely recommend it. As it is still completely authentic. Great restaurants as well!
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