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Dating from the early 15th century, the magnificent Gothic-era Hôtel de Ville dominates the Grand'Place. It's nearly 300 years older than the surrounding guild houses, as it survived the devastating fires of 1695. The left wing was begun in 1402 but was soon found to be too small. Charles the Bold laid the first stone for the extension in 1444, and it was completed four years later. The extension left the slender belfry off center; it has now been fully restored. The belfry is topped by a bronze statue of St. Michael crushing the devil beneath his feet, and is a beautiful and useful landmark for navigating Brussels's winding streets. Over the gateway are statues of the prophets, female figures representing lofty virtues, and effigies of long-gone dukes and duchesses. Inside the building are a number of excellent Brussels and Mechelen tapestries, some of them in the Gothic Hall, where recitals and chamber-music concerts are frequently held. Locals still get married in the town hall, so keep an eye out for brides stepping gingerly over the cobbles on summer mornings.
Grand'Place, Brussels, B1000, Belgium