Friday, June 19, 2009

Hôtel de Ville (Brussels Town Hall)

This magnificent construction from 1402 shows off Gothic intricacy at its best, complete with dozens of arched windows and sculptures. Some of these, like the drunken monks, a sleeping Moor and his harem, and St. Michael slaying a female devil, display a sense of humor as well as extraordinary skill. The interior reflects the extravagant tastes of the imperial aldermen who ruled over the city from here. A 315-ft. tall tower (built in 1449) sprouts from the middle, yet it's not placed directly in the center, and it's slightly crooked. Atop the spire is a statue of the Archangel Michael, patron saint of the city.

The building, which occupies the entire southwest side of the Grand Place, is still the seat of civic government, and its wedding room is a popular place to marry. You can visit the interior on guided tours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays. Worth seeking out is the spectacular Gothic Hall, open for visits when the city's aldermen are not in session. Baroque decoration stands side by side with magnificent 16th- to 18th-century tapestries.

On summer evenings there is a popular son-et-lumière (sound and light) show in which various buildings on the Grand Place are illuminated by lasers. Summer evenings at 10:30p. The following video is the 2008 December illumination:

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