The most impressive building on the Grand Place is the towering Hôtel de Ville. The left wing and then first part of the tower were completed in the early 15th century and the right wing and ornate spire were added in the middle of that century.
The facade is covered in statues of the dukes and duchesses of Brabant. Funds ran out in 1455 before all of them were in place and so it wasn't until 1852 when writer Victor Hugo raised the remaining money that they were completed. The original statues are now stored away and the ones you can see are replicas.
You can wander in to the central courtyard where you will see a brass star in the ground. This is known as point zero and is the marker that all distances in Belgium are supposedly measured from.
There are tours of the interior of the town hall, unfortunately they were not whilst I was there. They are scheduled for 3.15pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and at 12.15pm on Sundays, but check before you go in case these change.
On the late thirteenth century there was a desire in the city to build a site that represented how important was the city of Brussels as the commercial center of northern Europe. In 1401 began the construction the building finished in 1459, many were the artists that led to the fulfillment of the building. The left wing and bell tower dominated by the statue of city patron St. Michael, were drawn by Jacques van Thienen, needle, and the tower by Jan van Ruysbroeck in 1449.
Sobre finales del siglo XIII había el deseo en la ciudad de edificar un sitio que representara cuan importante era la ciudad de Bruselas como centro comercial del Norte Europa. En 1401 se inició la construcción del edificio que acabó en el 1459, muchos fueron los artistas que llevaron al cumplimiento del edificio. El ala izquierda y el campanario dominado por la estatua del patrón ciudadano San Miguel, fueron dibujados por Jacques van Thienen, la aguja y la torre por Jan van Ruysbroeck en el 1449.
“Yesterday I inspected the interior of the Hôtel de Ville with the Burgomaster of Brussels, M. de Brouckere, who is most courteously showing me over the town.”
— Victor Hugo, from a letter to his wife, 5.January.1852
COURTEOUS INSPECTION Our guide was not as prestigious as Monsieur Hugo’s; nonetheless we too made an inspection of the interior of Hôtel de Ville.
Stadhuis, what the Flemish call a city hall, is still an active municipal building; we were lucky enough to visit on a non-working day. Amid the gilded chandeliers and centuries-old tapestries, the 21st-century world has crept in: electronic voting devices are at each seat (see photo #4).
Among civic functions at Hôtel de Ville, marriages are performed and it is the official seat of the mayor of Brussels. The lobby (see photos #1 & #2), enter from the courtyard, is 19th century in style.
A visit to the interior can be made only with one of the scheduled tours. The tour in English takes place on Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 15:15; in summer Sundays at 10:45 and 12:15. The tariff is 3 euros. The 40-minute tour is conducted by a guide, who shows the group around the council chamber and various rooms, which are decorated with 15th century tapestries and other works of art (see photos #4 & #5).
“Hotel de Ville attracted my interest by the busts in relief of Charles the Bold, his daughter Mary, the heiress of Burgundy, Maximilian, Charles the V, Philip II, and several others of the rulers of other days.”
— from a letter written by Samuel Norvell Lapsley, U.S. missionary to the Congo, to his father, 1890
Hôtel de Ville has an inner courtyard, which is open to the public that is not as imposing as its Gothic exterior. Corneille Van Nerven completed the design for the courtyard in 1712. The Van Nerven redesigned Hôtel de Ville in a quadrilateral form when a fire, caused by the French bombs of 1695, destroyed most of it.
The Town Hall is a most magnificent 17th century building with the ground floor being used as the Tourist Information Centre. There are also tours of the building. Whilst we were there we walked through to the courtyard and enjoyed many more aspects of this building.
Situated in the Grand Place the premier building is Hotel de Ville. Its Gothic tracery facade features the famous needle like crooked spire. This spire stands out like a beacon and can be seen from many parts of the city. We used it as a "direction finder" when moving around the lower city.
The first foundation was laid in in 1401 and the building finally completed in 1459. The tower and spire commenced in 1449 by Jan van Ruysbroeck. A magnificent building to look at and well worth going inside to view the courtyard and other rooms.
On the ground floor you will find the Tourist Information Centre.
The Hôtel de Ville or Town Hall is the only remaining Mediaeval structure in the Grand-Place. It was constructed in the 15th century in a Gothic style, and its massive bell-tower can be seen from quite a distance, provided a good landmark and also a recognizable monument for all of Brussels. If you look closely at the Town Hall, you'll notice that the right and left wings (on either side of the bell-tower) are not equal and that the building is not symmetrical. A legend in the city says that the architect threw himself from the tower when he realized this, but the truth is that the two sides of the building were built in different eras. The façade of the building, with it enormous number of carved Saints and notable figures, is awe-inspiring just when you think of the amount of work that must have been needed to complete the detail.
When entering the Market Place from one of the seven side-streets, one's eyes are drawn automatically to the gothic tower of the town hall pointing skywards. Up to this day the "Hotel de Ville", or "Stadhuis" is considered to rank among the most beautiful city halls in the Low Countries.
The construction of the building represents the growing power of Brussels as the capital of the Dukedom of Brabant
The town hall is still the seat of the Mayor of Brussels . The city administration is located elsewhere, on Boulevard Anspach. In the first half of the 1990's the tower has been completely restored. In the following years the facades of the building has been cleaned and restored where necessary.
2,48 € (Euro) per person and 1,98 € (Euro) per person for groups of minimum 12 persons
The town hall can be visited only with guided tours in Eng., French, German and Dutch. For the timings of the tours please consult the Town Hall or the Brussels Tourist Office in the right wing of the building.
Designed by Jan van Ruysbroeck in the 15th century. It has a steeple rising 103 meters above the ground. The tower is topped by a gilded copper statue of the towns patron saint, Michael. The hall tower was used as a target for Louis XIV's guns during the bombardment of Brussels, and was the one building not demolished.
Located on top of a hill, the Maison communale of Saint-Gilles's (Town Hall) is an imposing historicist building from the early XX Century. It is inspired by a Renaissance chateau and, as it is the traditional in Belgium, has a tall belfry that dominates the entire district.
For its bulky size, it is really complicated to capture the totality of the building in one picture.
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