Brussels City Hall at night

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Brussels City Hall at night ( 480x640 )
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The City Hall, or Town Hall (French: Hôtel de Ville, Dutch: Stadhuis) in Brussels lies in the very centre of the city, on the square called Grand Place (Grote Markt). It belongs to the most beautiful city halls in the Low Countries.

Before the City Hall, some wooden houses and inns used to stand on its site. As the city grew bigger, they were demolished and the town hall was built as the administrative centre. The construction began in the spring of 1402 and was finished in 1405. This original building was what are now left wing and a small tower. The architect was probably Jacob van Thienen.

Later, in 1444, the building was extended and a smaller right wing was added. In 1449 Jan van Ruysbroeck built 96 metres high tower in gothic style. The tower is not in the middle of the building and according to a legend, the architect committed suicide by throwing himself down from the tower when he had found out this fact. However, this legend is not true and the fact that the tower is not in the middle can be explained by not building the wings at once and also because the town authorities wanted to preserve the street next to right wing.

This extension was done due to the rivalry with neighbouring city of Leuven that also aspired to the title of ‘capital of the Dukedom of Brabant’. The City Hall was completely finished in 1455 when a gilded statue of st. Michael killing the devil was put on the top. It remained on the top of the building for 541 years and was replaced just in 1996.

In 1695 when Brussels was destroyed by French troops of De Villeroy, only the outside walls and the tower had been saved. The restoration started immediately. During 17th and 18th century the original statues were withered-away or disappeared so a complete restoration was needed again. It took in 1840 and the façade was newly decorated with 203 little statues of the Dukes and Duchess of Brabant. The last restoration took in the beginning on 1990s. The tower and the facade where needed were restored.

Nowadays the City Hall is still the seat of the Mayor of Brussels. It can be visited by tourists, but only in guided tours and for a small fee.
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