Gothic Town Hall on the Grote Markt
Come and admire this Gothic town hall dating from the 15th century. The impressive structure stands on Leuven's old Grote Markt, the main square in the city. Along with a spectacular architectural design, the building has beautiful interiors and cellars as well as a huge number of statues to explore over three floors. The town hall is the third iteration of the building and construction started in 1439. It is a building in Gothic style with four corner turrets, two ridge turrets, and a balustrade around the building.
As one of the best-known Gothic town halls worldwide, the hall is Leuven's pride and joy. It took three architects and thirty years to build it. There are three main floors, lined with pointed Gothic windows on the three sides visible from the main square. Above this is a gallery parapet, behind which rises a steep roof studded with four tiers of dormers. The octagonal turrets are pierced with slits to allow light to enter. The town hall contains a waiting hall on the ground floor, a Gothic hall, and salons. There are many beautiful paintings and wood carvings, often with religious themes, to discover. The main façade has an entrance staircase, and two portals in the center, above which are figures of Saint Peter and Madonna and Child. Visitors can tour the cellars in the levels below the ground floor. These cellars have housed the Jaartallen collection since the very first edition in 1890.
The entrance is located at Grote Markt square next to the town hall's flight of step. There are also daily tours of the rest of the building. Your guide will tell you about the construction history of this Gothic gem. Hall of Fame Leuven's famous hall features 236 statues that represent biblical figures, scholars, prominent citizens, artists, judges, dukes and kings, totaling 220 men and 16 women in total. The historic hall hasn't always been quite as eye-catching as it is today. The initiative to embellish the hall with local heroes, scientists and saints only came more than 400 years after the hall was built, in 1847. After the Belgian Revolution, the government wanted to establish the country's rich cultural heritage and so decided to add the statues to the hall, an idea that was approved by King Leopold I. A competition was set up to select the sculptors who would contribute.
Today, the town hall has a ceremonial function after the city's administrative services moved elsewhere in 2009. You can find the tourist information center on the side of the building.