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Belfort van Aalst

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Identification

Belfort van Aalst
Belfry and Old City Hall, Schepenhuis en belforttoren
249154

Map

Structure in General

building with towers
existing [completed]
white
gothic

Usages

city hall

Facts

  • The city hall itself is nowadays the oldest of the Benelux.
  • Renovation works on the complete structure started in 1886. Several parts were reconstructed rather with improvisation, since historical architectural data was lacking.
  • The building has been used again from 1981 up until today by the city council, after they had left the building in 1801.
  • The rear façade of the city hall is early gothic, while the windows of the lower floors are Romanesque.
  • Again the city hall was severely damaged by fire in 1879 after an accident with firework.
  • In 1978 renovation works started again. This time the interior of the building was reconstructed: wooden beams were changed for steel and concrete, new stairs were placed, etc….
  • The city hall itself was constructed in 1225 to provide the seven aldermen of the County of Aalst the necessary facilities in order to fulfill their duties.
  • Construction works of the belfry tower finally resumed in 1460 after they had been halted in 1409.
  • On October 13, 1943 the building was declared a monument. At that moment the building was primarily used as an archive and museum.
  • Today two rooms of the basement are accessible to the public and they’re mainly used for exhibitions.
  • Up until 1650 there was an altar in the city hall.
  • On the frontal façade of the belfry tower are two knight looking statues. They both represent the Counts of Flanders and the Counts of Aalst.
  • The current carillon has 52 bells and is the sixth one since 1461 when the very first one was installed.
  • De name “Belfort van Aalst” refers to the Old City Hall with belfry tower.
  • In 1380, when the city was destroyed by men from Gent under Count Louis of Male, the city hall was heavily damaged by fire. Reconstruction of the western façade started in 1407.
  • Under those statues is written in Latin “Nec Spe, nec Metu” (Not by hope, not by fear). A remembrance to Philip II (later King of Spain), who made this aphorism to his motto and who was inaugurated to Count of Flanders in 1555.
  • During the Middle Ages, the basement served mainly as a prison and a torture room. In the 18th century the cellars were used for textile production and later on they were leased as a warehouse.

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More Information

Location

Grote Markt 3
9300
Aalst
Flemish Region
Belgium

Technical Data

144.36 ft
5
1
1225
1460

Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • City landmark
  • UNESCO landmark
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