The most spectacular Gothic architecture lasted in some northern European countries, while in Italy it had long been established the renaissance art. And a good example of this is Belgium, and more specifically its capital, Brussels which has exceptional examples of Gothic buildings, including the Town Hall, built during the first half of the 15th century.
Brussels City Hall
This building located on the Grand Place in Brussels is like the icing on the cake of the repertoire of Gothic architecture that can be seen in this city space. And the fact is that the old market was located there and the guild houses began to be built around it, until finally it was decided to build the headquarters of the local government there, the Brussels City Hall.
Work on it began in 1402 by the architect Jacob van Thienen. He would develop for more or less 20 years the left wing of the building. The result should already be enough for the city, and it was a complete building with its own gate, different from the current one.
However, in those years there was a competition between the cities to see which city had the most spectacular town hall. And Brussels, in this peculiar competition, faced its economic rivals, such as Bruges orLeuven. And in fact in Leuven there is a Gothic town hall that is certainly one of the most beautiful works in the country. That is why the people of Brussels decided to expand their town hall.
So from the year 1440 the right wing began to be built, by an architect whose name we do not know. That meant changing the door and certain imbalances in symmetry that can be discovered if we look carefully at the current façade.
Perhaps the most obvious mismatch is that the tower, which astonishingly reaches a height of 96 meters, is not in the center of the façade. Construction of this tower began in 1449 following the plans of Jan van Ruysbroeck, and was not completed until 1454. A long time of logical work considering the tower's pronounced height, but it was also not without problems during its construction. And all so that, according to legend, when it was finished, the architect was furiously criticized for not having built it in the symmetrical center. He would be criticized so much that he fell into a deep depression that made him climb to the top of his work and throw himself into the void.
This fact is absolutely unproven, and it is more than possible that it is just a legend. But what is incontestable is the quality of this work, of the entire Brussels City Council. An exceptional example of how in Gothic architecture merges with the finest decorative details carved in stone that animate windows, arches, niches, skylights, pinnacles, …
Although the maximum expression of thatornamental desire are the infinity of sculptures that are arranged in all the heights of the facade. Sculptures made for decades to be placed there. Although today those that are contemplated are replicas, while the originals are protected from inclement weather in the Museum of the Villa de Bruxelles, located in the Grand Place itself.