Hôtel de Ville/Stadhuis
   An outstanding example of Gothic architecture, the Town Hall stands as a symbolic, enduring embodiment of the city's wealth and status in the 15th century.
   The cloth trade engendered unprecedented prosperity, and municipal authorities resolved to build a town hall to reflect urban pride. The site chosen was occupied by residences, in some places built close together and in others separated by gardens or narrow passageways. The houses, inc1uding de Meerte and den Wilden Ever, acquired by the city in 1301 and 1327, respectively, to hold meetings and offices, were demolished. Original plans called for only a left wing and belfry. The foundation stone was laid in 1401 and these were completed following a design by Jacques van Thienen about 1421. A right wing, whose designer is unknown, was added from 1444 to 1459.
   In January 1449 the magistracy commissioned Jan van Ruys-broeck to build a tower with spire to replace the belfry. The work was completed in 1455. Distinguished by an elegant lacework of stone pinnacles rising to a pyramid-shaped spire, the tower rises to a height of 96 m (312 ft.). A carillon was placed in the tower in 1663. It is topped by a 5 m (16 ft.) statue of Saint Michael the Archangel, constructed of gilded copper plates by coppersmith Martin van Rode. Put in place on 25 July 1455, it has been regilded a number of times and was gold plated in 1617. In 1995, restoration work was undertaken on the statue, which was put back into position in 1997. The gabled roof was restored in 1837.
   The famous doorway of the tower does not align because the architect retained the belfry's foundations and doorway to increase the thickness of the right-hand wall in providing a strong foundation for the tower.
   The original sculptures that adorned the building, many of them characteristic of Gothic style as found in Brabant, are stored in the Museum of the City of Brussels. In the 19th century, the frontage, side walls, tower, and galleries were decorated with more than 150 statues.
   In the Gothic Hall, rulers of the country were formerly enthroned; the last was William I, king of the Netherlands, in 1815. The hall was renovated in neo-Gothic style in 1868.
   The bombardment of 1695 left standing only broken masonry together with the tower, which survived only because French cannoneers used it as a line-of-sight. The Town Hall was rebuilt and the interior and exterior were renovated beginning in 1841 and continuing until the early 20th century. Extensive cleaning took place in the 1990s.
   The Hôtel de Ville serves as the center of municipal government.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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