Antwerp City Hall

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Template:Infobox Historic building The City Hall (Template:Lang-nl) of Antwerp, Belgium, stands on the western side of Antwerp's Grote Markt (Great Market Square). Erected between 1561 and 1565 to the design of Cornelis Floris de Vriendt and several other architects and artists, this Renaissance building incorporates both Flemish and Italian influences.

The low arcaded ground story is of rusticated stone, and at one time housed little shops. Above are two stories with Doric and Ionic columns separating large mullioned windows, and a fourth story forming an open gallery.

The richly ornamented center section, which rises above the eaves in diminishing stages, holds female statues representing Justice, Prudence, and the Virgin Mary, and bears the coats of arms of the Duchy of Brabant, the Spanish Habsburgs, and the Margraviate of Antwerp.

History

In the 16th century, the municipal authorities proposed to replace Antwerp's small medieval town hall with a more imposing structure befitting the prosperity of the great port city. Domien de Waghemakere drafted a plan (c. 1540) for a new building in a style typical of the monumental Gothic town halls of Flanders and Brabant.

But an atmosphere of war prevented any progress on the project. The building material intended for the city hall was instead used to shore up the city defenses. Not until about 1560 were new plans developed, but meanwhile Gothic architecture was no longer fashionable, so this time the new town hall was designed in the new Renaissance style. Completed in 1565, the building lasted hardly a decade before being burnt to a shell in the Spanish Fury of 1576. It was repaired three years later.

Renovations during the late 19th century by Pierre Bruno Bourla drastically modified the interior. Much of the stately decor dates from this period, as does a roof over what was once an open-air inner courtyard.

Influence abroad

The Green Gate in Gda?sk, Poland, is a building which is clearly inspired by the Antwerp City Hall. It was built between 1568-1571 to serve as the formal residence of the Polish monarchs when visiting Gda?sk. It is a masterpiece by Regnier (or Reiner van Amsterdam), the architect from Amsterdam.

References

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  • B. Fletcher, History of Architecture (London, 1921)

External links

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