Brussels Town Hall
Hôtel de Ville (French)
Town Hall of the City of Brussels
|Town or city||Brussels|
|Height||96 metres (315 ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Jacob van Thienen,|
Jan van Ruysbroek
|Engineer||Guillaume de Voghel|
The Town Hall (French: Hôtel de Ville, Dutch: Stadhuis (help·info)) of the City of Brussels is a Gothic building from the Middle Ages. It is located on the famous Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium, opposite the Museum of the City of Brussels.
Gothic Town Hall
The oldest part of the present Town Hall is its east wing (to the left when facing the front). This wing, together with a shorter belfry, was built and completed in 1420 under direction of Jacob van Thienen. Initially, future expansion of the building was not foreseen, however, the admission of the craft guilds into the traditionally patrician city government apparently spurred interest in providing more room for the building. As a result, a second, somewhat longer wing was built on to the existing structure, with Charles the Bold laying its first stone in 1444. This west wing was built by Guillaume (Willem) de Voghel who, in 1452, also built the Magna Aula at the Coudenberg.
The facade is decorated with numerous statues representing nobles, saints, and allegorical figures. The present sculptures are reproductions; the older ones are in the city museum in the King's House across the Grand Place.
The 96-metre-high (315 ft) tower in Brabantine Gothic style emerged from the plans of Jan van Ruysbroek, the court architect of Philip the Good. By 1454, this tower, replacing the older belfry, was complete. Above the roof of the Town Hall, the square tower body narrows to a lavishly pinnacled octagonal openwork. Atop the spire, stands a 5-metre-high gilt metal statue of the archangel Michael, patron saint of Brussels, slaying a dragon or devil. The tower, its front archway and the main building's facade are conspicuously off-centre relative to one another. According to a legend, the architect, upon discovering this "error", leapt to his death from the tower. More likely, the asymmetry of the Town Hall was an accepted consequence of the scattered construction history and space constraints.
After the bombardment of Brussels in 1695, by a French army, under the Duke of Villeroi, the resulting fire completely gutted the Town Hall, destroying the archives and the art collections. The interior was soon rebuilt, and the addition of two rear wings, in the classical style (Louis XIV style), transformed the L-shaped building into its present configuration: a quadrilateral with an inner courtyard, completed by Corneille Van Nerven in 1712.
19th century restorations
The town hall underwent many restoration campaigns throughout the 19th century, first under the direction of Tilman-François Suys, starting in 1840. The Gothic interior was later revised by Victor Jamar in 1868, in the style of his mentor Viollet-le-Duc. It was at this time that most of the statues of the Town Hall were made. The interior halls were replenished with tapestries, paintings, and sculptures, largely representing subjects of importance in local and regional history.
The Town Hall accommodated not only the municipal authorities of the city, but until 1795, also the States of Brabant. In 1830, a provisional government assembled here during the attempt of the Third French Revolution, which provoked the separation of the Southern Netherlands from the Northern Netherlands, resulting in the formation of Belgium as it is known presently.
At the start of World War I, as refugees flooded Brussels, the Town Hall served as a makeshift hospital. On 20 August 1914, the occupying German army arrived at the Grand Place and hoisted a German flag at the left side of the Town Hall.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Brussels town hall.|
- "Occupation of Brussels on 20 August 1914". City of Brussels. City of Brussels. Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
- "Monuments et sites de la Région de Bruxelles — Patrimoine - Erfgoed". patrimoine.brussels (in French). Retrieved 2017-07-15.
- Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "La Grand-Place, Brussels". whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
- Brussels Town Hall - trabel.com
- Town hall and belfry, Brussels - Belgiumview
- Guided tours in the City Hall of Brussels - brussels.be
Media related to Brussels town hall at Wikimedia Commons