The City Hall of Kortrijk is situated on the main square of the Belgian city of Kortrijk. The facade of the late-Gothic, early Renaissance city hall is adorned with the statues of the Counts of Flanders.
As early as the 14th century, Kortrijk possessed a town hall, which was, however, completely gutted down by the French army after the victory at Westrozebeke in 1382. In 1420, a larger town hall was built in High Gothic style . The pointed arches in the hall on the ground-flour and upstairs are the only remnants of that building.
The present city hall was erected about 1520 in a style composed of Gothic and Renaissance elements. It was considerably larger than its predecessor. The front was gilded and polychromed (as the front of the Brussels town hall still is). In 1526, statues of the principal Counts of Flanders were put into niches, which so far had housed prophets' statues. In 1616 the town hall was once more enlarged, with a part of the front in the extant style.
From the end of the 17th and throughout the 18th centuries, the front underwent a series of alterations and mutilations. They did not hesitate to set up a pillory against it. In 1807, during the French occupation, the statues and their canopies were removed and the front was flattened out according to the spirit of the age. Around 1850 the front was renovated, but not too successfully. Even while in progress, the artistic value of the restoration was questioned. In 1854, the festive hall was fitted up on the occasion of a visit by king Leopold II and the Queen. In 1934, the historic Council Chamber was likewise taken in hand.
In 1938, the first plans were drawn for the restoration of the building to its 16th-century state. The actual works lasted from 1958 to 1961.
In the city hall, you also find the beautiful Aldermen’s hall and the Council chamber with 16th century sculpted chimneys. They are decorated with stained glass, wall murals and peculiar topographical maps. For several years now, the historic Aldermen's Chamber, which had been a tribunal up to 1787, has been used as wedding-room and as reception hall. The magnificent mantelpiece in late gothic style was completed in 1527. The mural paintings, made in 1875 after the romantic fashion of that time, depict outstanding scenes of Kortrijk's history. The stained-glass windows show the city's coat of arms and those of the 13th century craft guilds (principally textile workers).
In Council chamber, one can find fine gothic arches and a beautiful wooden portico. The graceful mantelpiece, a real lace work out of stone, is undoubtedly the show-piece of the Kortrijk city hall.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.