Hotel de Ville (Town Hall), Brussels

Hotel de Ville (Town Hall), Brussels (must see)

Considered as one of the world's top architecture beauties to see, the dazzling Hotel de Ville is a perfect example of the so-called Brabantine Gothic (flamboyant yet with some restrained finishing) built over several decades in the 15th century. Many visitors do not immediately notice that its 96-meter (310-ft) tower – whose spire is topped by Archangel Michael, patron saint of Brussels, slaying a devil – is not symmetrically placed in the middle; urban legend has it that even the architect did not initially see this and leaped to his death from the same spire after discovering his error (this is not the case, as the asymmetry was likely an accepted consequence of the scattered construction history and space constraints).

After the bombardment of Brussels in 1695 by a French army, 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 Louis XIV style, transformed the L-shaped building into its present configuration: a quadrilateral with an inner courtyard. The statues you see now on the façade – which represent nobles, saints and allegorical figures from the city's past – are relatively modern, part of a 19th-century refurbishment that also included the interior's replenishment with tapestries, paintings, and sculptures, largely representing subjects of importance in local and regional history.

The regular 45-minute guided tours are confined to a string of lavish official rooms with many different decorative styles, the most dazzling of which is the 16th-century Council Chamber with a superb ceiling by Victor Janssens.

Why You Should Visit:
A most impressive building (particularly spectacular at night), acting as a beacon wherever you are in the heart of Brussels.

Tip:
Make sure to buy your guided tour tickets in the mornings to view the building from the inside – there are just a few tours each day and they do sell out. Tickets are on sale only the day of the guided tour, starting 9am, at the information desk.

Guided Tours (French/English/Dutch/Spanish):
Mon: 1pm (EN); 2pm (FR); 3pm (SP); 4pm (FR); 5pm (EN);
Wed: 1pm (FR); 2pm (EN); 3pm (NL); 4pm (FR); 5pm (EN);
Fri: 3pm (FR); 5pm (NL); 6pm (FR); 7pm (EN);
Sat: 3pm (FR); 4pm (EN); 5pm (NL); 6pm (FR); 7pm (EN);
Sun: 10am(EN); 11am (FR); 12pm/2pm (EN); 1pm (FR); 3pm (NE,SP); 4 pm (FR); 5pm (EN); 6pm (FR);
CLOSED: Jan 1, May 1, Nov 1, Nov 11, Dec 25

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Brussels. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) on Map

Sight Name: Hotel de Ville (Town Hall)
Sight Location: Brussels, Belgium (See walking tours in Brussels)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Brussels, Belgium

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