Bruges’ City Hall (1376) is one of the oldest in the Low Countries. It is from here that the city has been governed for more than 600 years. An absolute masterpiece is the Gothic Hall with its late 19th-century murals and polychrome vault. In the historic chamber next door original documents and artefacts are used to evoke the history of the city’s administration through the centuries. On the ground foor there is a free multimedia exhibition that illustrates the structural development of the Burg square and the City Hall.
The Bruges town hall was built in 1376, which makes it one of the oldest town halls in the Low Countries. The city has been ruled from here for over 600 years.
The gothic hall is a work of art in itself, with its splendid 19th century murals and a colourful vaulted ceiling. The painted figures depict Bruges’ glorious past. The theme ‘citizens and government’ sheds light on the eternal power struggle between the city government, the sovereigns, and the people of Bruges.
Following the murder of Charles the Good in 1127, Bruges received a city charter, leading to further political autonomy became and its own council.
In 1376 building work began for a town hall on Burg Square. Its construction lasted for centuries, due in part to constant problems with a lack of space. At the end of the 19th century, city architect Delacenserie performed a radical 20-year long renovation, (e.g. the new Gothic Hall).
During a restoration of the façade in 1959, the statues were deemed to be of poor quality and were removed. The argument in Bruges over how to fill the empty alcoves lasted until 1989. Eventually the City requested sculptors to reinstate the original statues of rulers and biblical figures.
In the main hall, original 14th century consoles and imposing portraits of rulers dominate the room. Contemporary multimedia sheds light on the construction history of the Town Hall and Burg Square. Anyone interested in the power struggle between citizens and the rulers should certainly visit the Gothic Hall and the Historic Hall. Amongst other things, the display cases feature the first coins used in Bruges, archive pieces such as the great seal, and a copy of Galbert of Bruges’ historical account.