The most remarkable building on the town square (Grote Markt) from Antwerp certainly is
the town hall. Cornelis Floris de Vriendt was the
architect of this early renaissance building, and was finished in 1564.
That makes it one of the oldest (and probably one of the most beautiful) Renaissance
buildings in the Low Countries.
In the beginning of the 16th centrury, the city had made plans to build a new town
in Gothic style, much like the town halls of Leuven,
Brussels and Oudenaarde. However, they had to use
their construction material and money to defend themselves against attacks from the
Army of Maarten van Rossem from Gelre. It was only twenty years later that the
financial position of the city had improved to such an extent that the plan for a new
building for the mayor was unshelved. But, by this time fashion had changed. The Gothic
style was out and replaced by the Renaissance style.
The building clearly is a Renaissance building (look at the superposition of
Dorian and Ionic colons), but the middle section still clearly
resembles the towers of the many Gothic Flemish and Brabantine town halls. This
atypical Renaissance middle makes this building more beautiful. Think that it were not
there (hold a paper above the middle of the picture), and see what remains: a boring
building seeming very flat and low).
The 45 doors in the ground floor were built to house little shops. The rent that the
shop-keepers had to pay was used to help finance the construction of this building.
The middle section contains statues of statues of Lady 'Justitia' and Lady
The weapons of the Duchy of Brabant (black field with gold lion), the coat of arms of
the Spanish King Philip II (middle) and of the Markgrave of Antwerp (right) are
present. Above the weapons stands a Madonna statue, which is clearly too big for the
niche it stands in. It was put there by the Jesuits during the Counter-
Reformation, replacing a Brabo statue.
The wealthy interiour dates mostly from the 19th century.