Oudenaarde Town Hall was built by architect Hendrik van Pede in 1526–1537 to replace the medieval Schepenhuis (Aldermen's House) that occupied the same site. Another older structure, the 14th-century Cloth Hall, was retained and now forms a sort of extension at the back of the Town Hall proper.
The Oudenaarde Town Hall was a late flowering of secular Brabantine Gothic architecture, carrying on the stylistic tradition of the town halls at Leuven, Brussels, and Middelburg. Above the ground-story arcade with vaulted ceiling, the building displays typical features of its regional forerunners: a richly decorated facade with pointed-arch windows separated by canopied niches, and a steep, dormered roof surrounded by an openwork parapet. The niches, although designed to contain statues, stand empty.
Atop the central belfry tower of six stories with three terraces, a stone crown supports a gilded brass figure of Hanske de Krijger, mythical guardian of the city. The crown on the tower and the double-headed eagles over the attic windows pay homage to a famous visitor to Oudenaarde, Emperor Charles V, who fathered Margaret of Parma here a few years before construction of the Town Hall began.
The Town Hall initially combined functions of government and commerce, with rooms on the ground floor reserved for traders: the Corn House, Weighhouse and Lower Cloth Hall. Today, this floor accommodates the town's tourism office.
On the second floor, an elaborate portal crafted by Pauwel van der Schelden opens into the Schepenzaal, where the aldermen of Oudenaarde convened. The People's Hall takes up the front of the same floor, alongside the terrace overlooking the market square. This was the main room for receptions, banquets and entertainment.
The Town Hall boasts a collection of relics from Oudenaarde's past. The tapestries hanging in the Lower Cloth Hall and the adjacent Cloth Hall building represent an art form that brought the city fame between about the 15th–18th centuries. Another specialty of Oudenaarde during that time was the silversmith's trade, whose wares are displayed in the Silver Room on the third floor. The third floor also houses the Municipal Museum with various local art and artifacts.
The Town Hall and its Belfry were designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999.References:
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.