Kortrijk City Hall
The City Hall (Dutch: Stadhuis (help·info)) of Kortrijk is situated on the main square of the Belgian city of Kortrijk/Courtray. The facade of the late-Gothic, early Renaissance city hall is adorned with the statues of the Counts of Flanders.
As early as the 14th century, Kortrijk possessed a town hall, which was, however, completely gutted down by the French army after the victory at Westrozebeke in 1382. In 1420, a larger town hall was built in High Gothic style . The pointed arches in the hall on the ground-flour and upstairs are the only remnants of that building.
The present city hall was erected about 1520 in a style composed of Gothic and Renaissance elements. It was considerably larger than its predecessor. The front was gilded and polychromed (as the front of the Brussels town hall still is).
In 1526, statues of the principal Counts of Flanders were put into niches, which so far had housed prophets' statues. In 1616 the town hall was once more enlarged, with a part of the front in the extant style.
From the end of the 17th and throughout the 18th centuries, the front underwent a series of alterations and mutilations. They did not hesitate to set up a pillory against it.
In 1807, during the French occupation, the statues and their canopies were removed and the front was flattened out according to the spirit of the age. Around 1850 the front was renovated, but not too successfully. Even while in progress, the artistic value of the restoration was questioned. In 1854, the festive hall was fitted up on the occasion of a visit by king Leopold II and the Queen. In 1934, the historic Council Chamber was likewise taken in hand.
In 1938, the first plans were drawn for the restoration of the building to its 16th-century state. The actual works lasted from 1958 to 1961.
In the city hall, you also find the beautiful Aldermen’s hall and the Council chamber with 16th century sculpted chimneys. They are decorated with stained glass, wall murals and peculiar topographical maps.
Aldermen’s hall, the Vierschaar
For several years now, the historic Aldermen's Chamber, which had been a tribunal (vierschaar) up to 1787, has been used as wedding-room and as reception hall. The magnificent mantelpiece in late gothic style was completed in 1527. The mural paintings, made in 1875 after the romantic fashion of that time, depict outstanding scenes of Kortrijk's history. The stained-glass windows show the city's coat of arms and those of the 13th century craft guilds (principally textile workers).
In this hall, one can find fine gothic arches and a beautiful wooden portico. The graceful mantelpiece, a real lace work out of stone, is undoubtedly the show-piece of the Kortrijk city hall.
- Sap, H.; Dewilde, B.; Debrabandere, P., Kortrijk nodigt u uit; Courtrai vous invite; Courtray invites you, Delabie, Kortrijk, 1986, 43pp.