Brussels’ town hall, watching over the famous Grand Place, will open as a museum as of January 2023.
On the sideline of an official budget meeting, Brussels City Mayor Philippe Close announced that, at the beginning of next year, the mayor, aldermen and municipal council will move their offices to a newly built administrative centre, BruCity, built on the former Parking 58.
This will allow the city hall to permanently function as a museum form January. Currently, visitors can only admire the interior of the Gothic building on Wednesdays and Sundays and have to be accompanied by a guide, after having made an appointment.
While the building will not serve for administration purposes from January, Close informed that visiting hours will only be extended in the spring.
1. The Town Hall
The town hall dates back to the 15th century, being the only remaining medieval building in Grand Place. Construction of the main building took place between 1401 and 1455. In 1695, during the bombardment of the city by Louis XIV’s troops, the town hall was burned down, but the walls and the tower remained standing. Between 1706 and 1717, three rear wings were added, transforming the L-shaped building into its current quadrilateral form, with the inner courtyard.
The reception rooms and aldermen’s chambers contain beautiful Brussels tapestries from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, sumptuous Gothic woodwork, coats of arms of the old guilds and paintings from the City of Brussels museum’s collections.
2. Did you know?
If you haven’t noticed before, next time you visit the Grand Place, choose a spot opposite the Town Hall. Follow the tower from the top all the way down to the main entrance. The asymmetry is impossible to miss! The tower and its front archway are not aligned with the main door.
The legend says that the architect did not see the error in the planning and, once he saw the misalignment when the building was complete, he killed himself jumping from the tower. The more realistic explanation however is that the asymmetry was caused by the scattered construction history and space constrains of the square.