(active 1270-1486 in Bruges)

Exterior view

Cloth Hall, Bruges

The large communal building projects of towns in the Netherlands were the "halls" and town halls. The halls had a dual function as warehouses and as meeting rooms for the community. In addition, they were often also town halls in the modern sense, in other words administrative centres. As the expression of civic pride often took the widely visible form of huge towers in the Netherlands, these hall towers acquired more or less the same function as church towers and became more and more like them in appearance.

There is no fundamental difference between the cathedral towers of Utrecht or Antwerp and the towers of the Bruges cloth halls or the town halls of Brussels and Arras. The main architectural problem was the same: how to create a harmonic balance between the square base and the octagonal crown.

In Bruges, the cloth hall and the two square stories of the belfry were built in the last third of the 13th century. Not until 1482-86 was the tower with the octagon raised by more than a third, until 1471 it was even crowned by a spire.

The photo shows the Cloth Hall in Bruges.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.