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Townhall - Hotel de Ville

Townhall - Hotel de Ville (5)

The first stone of this majestic building was laid in 1401 and the magnificent building you can see today was completed in 1459. Although the French army bombarded the zone in 1695 and damaged this architectural ensemble considerably, subsequent reconstruction nonetheless returned the Town Hall to all its original splendour.  

You will notice that the facade is decorated with a series of over 150 stunningly realistic statues, and that above the main entrance there rises a great tower of 96 metres, which was designed by Jan van Ruysbroeck in 1449. You will also see that this tower is crowned by a copper figure, similar to a weather vane, that represents Saint Michael the Archangel, the city’s patron saint, and was constructed by Martin Van Rode in 1455. If you look carefully, you will notice that the tower is not symmetrically aligned with the facade. Popular legend tells of how the architect threw himself off the roof and killed himself when he noticed this. Events, however, were not so, as the tower rises precisely at this point in order to respect and to enhance the large doorway of the original tower. 

The right wing of the building, for its part, was constructed by Jacques van Thienen, while the architect of the left zone, which was built 40 years later, is unknown. Precisely in the left wing facade area, you will encounter the stairway of the lions, a decorated stone staircase that was the main entrance to the old building. Furthermore, if you take a look at the sizeable sloping roof, you will notice that it features a series of attics perforated with skylights. 

We also recommend that you visit the interior of the Town Hall, which features a large collection of fifteenth-century tapestries, and paintings, sculptures and furniture. Of particular note of all the items you will find is the interior courtyard, decorated with two magnificent fountains, and the Chamber of the Councillors, which contains some tapestries from the eighteenth century that tell the story of King Clovis. 

Take a look, also, at the delightful Assembly Room, a spectacular Gothic hall used for large receptions and decorated with old tapestries in which the different guilds of the capital are represented. The floor, moreover, is finished in marquetry. 

The wedding hall, for its part, is predominantly Neo-Gothic, with ornamentation in carved ebony and mahogany. This is the site where civil marriages are currently held, although originally it was the place where representatives of the different guilds met. 

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