Leuven Town Hall

Leuven, Belgium

The Town Hall of Leuven is a landmark building on that city"s Grote Markt (Main Market) square, across from the monumental St. Peter"s Church. Built in a Brabantine Late Gothic style between 1448 and 1469, it is famous for its ornate architecture, crafted in lace-like detail.

The building today known as the Town Hall was the Voirste Huys of a larger complex of municipal buildings on which construction started in 1439 at the site of an existing town hall. The first architect, Sulpitius Van Vorst, died soon after the back wings of the complex got started and was succeeded briefly by Jan Keldermans II, whose death in 1445 ended the first construction campaign. The project resumed in 1448 under the direction of Matheus de Layens. The first stone of the Voirste Huys was laid on 28 March of that year. The cellars of some demolished houses were incorporated into the new construction and can today be accessed through a small door at the left side of the Town Hall. The initial plans, influenced by the town hall at Brussels, included a belfry tower at one of the corners. This design was modified by de Layens, resulting in the symmetrical arrangement of turrets observed today. The exterior masonry and roof were finished in 1460, and in 1469 the building was complete.

In the 19th century, the Town Hall underwent renovations made necessary by centuries" worth of decay. The building remained standing amid the devastation of Leuven during World War I, escaping with only minor damage. In the Second World War, a bomb strike in front of the building caused yet more damage; it took until 1983 before repairs were completed.

The Town Hall has three main stories, lined with pointed Gothic windows on the three sides visible from the Markt. Above is a gallery parapet, behind which rises a steep roof studded with four tiers of dormers. At the angles of the roof are octagonal turrets pierced with slits allowing for the passage of light.

Statues in canopied niches are distributed all over the building. The corbels supporting the statues are carved with Biblical scenes in high relief. While the niches and corbels are original with the building, the 236 statues themselves are relatively recent, dating from after 1850. Those of the first floor represent personages of importance in the local history of the city; those of the second, patron saints and symbolic figures; those of the third, the Counts of Leuven and Dukes of Brabant from various ages.

The main façade has an entrance staircase, and two portals in the center, above which are figures of Saint Peter (left) and Madonna and Child (right), the former in compliment to the patron of the church opposite.

The interior accommodates an interesting collection of artwork, including sculptures by Constantin Meunier and Jef Lambeaux. Inside can also be seen the portraits of the Leuven mayors since 1794.

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Address

Grote Markt, Leuven, Belgium
See all sites in Leuven

Details

Founded: 1439
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Belgium

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

ncku16howard (16 months ago)
Awesome~can't not image how much money and time spent on this building. A place must visit in Leuven .
Naseef Umar (2 years ago)
It’s beautiful and one of the most prettiest town hall in the world
La Belgique insolite (2 years ago)
Incredible monument with a splendid Gothic architecture! We went there a weekend and the place is absolutely stunning on a Sunday morning as there is not even one soul. The best view is from the bus stop on the other side of the road, with the Church and the hotel. One of the best Belgian town Hall!
Jan De Ruyck (2 years ago)
What a deadful place. Nothing of interest, stuffed with snobbish students. Much more in Aarschot, Haacht for authentic Flemisch atmosphere.
Noemi G. (2 years ago)
I have visited this city before the COVID. This is a very nice city, a good stop for one full day or a single night as we did during our trip. Leuven is mainly known as the city for young people, with great night life and with the most famous University of the country. Night life was quite impressive, much more active and lived rather than the streets of the centre of Brussels.
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