The Town Hall
The impressive Town Hall of Antwerp was built from 1561 to 1564 according to the design of Cornelis Floris de Vriendt
The Grote Markt, within walking distance of Het Steen and close to several of Antwerp's finest restaurants, is the vibrant heart of the historic city center. Capture the stunning Town Hall in photographs, admire the authentic guild houses, enjoy a refreshing drink on one of the many café terraces, and uncover the legend from which Antwerp is said to have derived its name. There is so much to see and do in Antwerp!
The story of the Grote Markt began in 1220 when Duke Henry I of Brabant donated this then humble square to the city of Antwerp. Shortly thereafter, the first annual markets took place here, bringing together English merchants with Germans, Spaniards, and Italians. Over time, it even became a permanent trading market and the international attraction of Antwerp, which in the 15th century was the most important city in the Netherlands
Antwerp needed a much larger town hall as the city was bursting at the seams, both in terms of trade and population. This building had to showcase that Antwerp was a world city. The town hall was a magnificent example of its uniqueness and grandeur for a long time.
This monumental building is constructed in the Renaissance style, with the central part leaning towards Baroque. To finance the construction of this building at the time, significant amounts of money were needed. The mayor and his council decided to allocate the entire ground floor as shops for rent. The tenants would pay rent for the space, thus sponsoring the city in the construction of their desired town hall.
As often happens, the project went well beyond the planned budget, and all the money was spent while the building was not yet entirely finished. Fortunately, the town hall was completed in 1564 after an additional 50% of the original budget was invested.
Unfortunately, Antwerp became the target of Spanish soldiers. They began looting the city and set fire to the newly built town hall in 1576, only 12 years after its completion. As a result, the roof and interior had to be completely rebuilt. Various changes were also made to the facade over time. The Town Hall of Antwerp is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
These houses were very typical in the 16th and 17th centuries. Each building was associated with a specific guild, constructed to showcase their power, status, and wealth. That's why you can see those beautiful golden statues on top of the guild houses, representing their respective guilds.
The largest guild house is called the Pand van Spanje. You can recognize it by the knight on his horse, Saint George, who is poised to slay the dragon climbing up. Only a few guild houses are original; house numbers 24, 38, and 40 are authentic. Of course, they have been renovated to restore their original beauty.
The other buildings are actually replicas of buildings that used to exist. They were constructed in the 19th and 20th centuries, based on old paintings and testimonies. Some houses are even based on properties that were once located elsewhere in the city.
All guild houses on the Grote Markt in Antwerp are built in the Renaissance style with some Gothic details. A fine example of this is the pinnacles, which are very typical for Belgium and the Netherlands.
The fountain itself is made of bronze and depicts Brabo throwing away the severed hand of the giant Druoon Antigoon. Jef Lambeaux, an artist born in Antwerp, created this fountain in 1887. As you will see during your visit, he made numerous artworks for his beloved city.
The fascinating legend of Silvius Brabo dates back to the 16th century. It tells the story of a giant named Druoon Antigoon who considered himself the guardian of the Scheldt River and terrorized all sailors passing through the river to access the city. He forced them to pay a toll, and those who refused or couldn't pay would lose their hand. The giant would simply chop it off and throw it into the river. Until Silvius Brabo, a Roman soldier, stood up against him and killed Druoon Antigoon. In revenge, Silvius Brabo cut off his hand and threw it into the river. This legend also explains the name of the city: 'hand-werpen' eventually became 'Antwerpen'
The Grote Markt Antwerp is situated in the "historic center" district. It is located between the Scheldt River and the Cathedral of Our Lady. Take the opportunity to explore the city further and visit Antwerp Zoo and Antwerp Central Station. Of course, the museums of Antwerp should also be on your itinerary!
Then B&B HOTEL Antwerpen Centrum or B&B HOTEL Antwerpen Zuid might be something for you!
Our B&B HOTELS offer pleasant comfort, beautiful design, and impeccable amenities, such as a cozy lounge, fast Wi-Fi, comfortable beds, and a modern bathroom. By choosing one of our B&B HOTELS in Antwerp, you can definitely enjoy a stylish overnight stay!