The Schepenhuis (Aldermen's House) of Aalst is a former city hall, one of the oldest in the Low Countries. Dating originally from 1225, it was partially rebuilt twice as a result of fire damage, first after a 1380 war and again after a fireworks accident in 1879.
The belfry tower at one corner of the building was completed in 1460, and in the next year was equipped with a carillon built by master craftsmen from Mechelen. The current carillon, the sixth installed since the original, has 52 bells. Inscribed on the tower are the Latin words nec spe, nec metu ('not with hope, not with fear'). This was the motto of Spain's Philip II, whose domain expanded into the Low Countries in 1555.
A small wing of late Gothic style, facing the market square and adorned with five life-size statues, was added in the 16th century. From this annex one can access the cellars, which originally served as torture chambers.
The schepenhuis with its belfry is one of an ensemble of related buildings that together have received UNESCO World Heritage status.References:
Hluboká Castle (Schloss Frauenberg) is considered one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic. In the second half of the 13th century, a Gothic castle was built at the site. During its history, the castle was rebuilt several times. It was first expanded during the Renaissance period, then rebuilt into a Baroque castle at the order of Adam Franz von Schwarzenberg in the beginning of the 18th century. It reached its current appearance during the 19th century, when Johann Adolf II von Schwarzenberg ordered the reconstruction of the castle in the romantic style of England's Windsor Castle.
The Schwarzenbergs lived in Hluboká until the end of 1939, when the last owner (Adolph Schwarzenberg) emigrated overseas to escape from the Nazis. The Schwarzenbergs lost all of their Czech property through a special legislative Act, the Lex Schwarzenberg, in 1947.
The original royal castle of Přemysl Otakar II from the second half of the 13th century was rebuilt at the end of the 16th century by the Lords of Hradec. It received its present appearance under Count Jan Adam of Schwarzenberg. According to the English Windsor example, architects Franz Beer and F. Deworetzky built a Romantic Neo-Gothic chateau, surrounded by a 1.9 square kilometres English park here in the years 1841 to 1871. In 1940, the castle was seized from the last owner, Adolph Schwarzenberg by the Gestapo and confiscated by the government of Czechoslovakia after the end of World War II. The castle is open to public. There is a winter garden and riding-hall where the Southern Bohemian gallery exhibitions have been housed since 1956.