Menen's town hall consists of several buildings located in the middle of the market square. Through the centuries, it has been repeatedly devastated and altered. The present town hall building was established in 1782, when the Austrian Habsburgers ruled over the Southern Netherlands. The façade is in a simple and austere classical style. The Cloth Hall and the Mansion (landhuis) were also part of the town hall complex. The Cloth Hall was situated in the Ieperstraat, behind the belfry.After the French Revolution, in 1808, Napoleon's power repaired the buildings damaged in Revolution Wars. Another 30 years later, when Belgium had become an independent state, the Menen town council decided to convert the Cloth Hall into private houses. Over the last 150 years, several buildings in the town hall complex have changed purposes a number of times and were converted each time. The town hall survived both world wars unscathed.
The Menen belfry was built up against the town hall. It has an eventful history and has been listed by Unesco as a world heritage site since 1999. The first stone was laid in 1574, but as the wars of religion were raging in those days, the works were already halted in 1576, barely 2 years after they started. The construction works were resumed in 1610, and a superstructure in brick was constructed on top of the existing base that was put up in natural stone. On top of that structure, a wooden spire was established, with a domed roof and lantern. That spire was shot off during the siege of Menen in 1706.
Afterwards, the belfry was repaired and a third, octagonal upper layer was added at the same time. On this third floor too, a wooden spire was built, again with domed roof and lantern.
The belfry escaped major damage during the French siege and the subsequent Austrian period. Until the French Republican troops shot off the lantern again in 1794. It was only in 1828 that repair works were carried out, and that a fourth, octagonal floor was added, which was enclosed by an openwork balustrade. On the side of the belfry, in a recess, a small 17th-century statue is still to be seen. It is a superb wooden sculpture painted in polychrome representing the flagellated Christ. It is called Ons Heer in ‘t Riet, freely translated as Our Lord of the Reeds.
The belfry houses the carillon. The present carillon was installed in 1962 and comprises 49 bells, weighing nearly 5 tons. Like all carillons, the Menen carillon also has its origin in the tower clock. The first carillon dated from 1616, when the belfry tower had only two floors and a wooden spire. It had 18 bells. A century later, it was replaced by a newcarillon with 34 bells, but this did not survive the French Revolution. After long negotiations, Menen finally acquired a bass bell in 1802, but even so, the present carillon only was installed in 1962. In 2001, a new carillon keyboardwas installed.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.