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Wonders Of The World:
St. Mark's Church
Tower Of London
Cathedral Of Antwerp
The Taj Mahal
Cathedral Of Notre Dame
Kremlin
Cathedral Of York
Mosque Of Omar
Cathedral Of Burgos
The Pyramids
Saint Peter's Cathedral
Cathedral Of Strasburg
The Shway Dagohn
Cathedral Of Siena
Town Hall Of Louvain
Cathedral Of Seville
Windsor Castle
Cathedral of Cologne
Palce Of Versailles
Cathedral Of Lincoln

The Town Hall Of Louvain

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Louvain is in a certain sense the mother city of Brussels. Standing on its own little navigable river, the Dyle, it was, till the end of the Fourteenth Century, the capital of the Counts and of the Duchy of Brabant. It had a large population of weavers, engaged in the cloth trade. Here, as elsewhere, the weavers formed the chief bulwark of freedom in the population. In 1378, however, after a popular rising, Duke Wenseslaus besieged and conquered the city; and the tyrannical sway of the nobles, whom he re-introduced, aided by the rise of Ghent, or later, of Antwerp, drove away trade from the city. Many of the weavers emigrated to Holland and England, where they helped to establish the woollen industry...

As you emerge from the station, you come upon a small Place, adorned with a statue (by Geefs) of Sylvain van de Weyer, a revolutionary of I 83o, and long Belgian minister to England. Take the long straight street up which the statue looks. This leads direct to the Grand' Place, the centre of the town, whence the chief streets radiate in every direction, the ground-plan recalling that of a Roman city.

The principal building in the Grand' Place is the Hotel de Ville, standing out with three sides visible from the Place, and probably the finest civic building in Belgium. It is of very florid late-Gothic architecture, between 1448 and 1463 Begin first with the left facade, exhibiting three main storeys, with handsome Gothic windows. Above come a gallery, and then a gable-end, flanked by octagonal turrets, and bearing a similar turret on its summit. In this centre of the gable is a little projecting balcony of the kind so common on Belgic civic buildings. The architecture of the niches and turrets is of very fine florid Gothic, in better taste than that at Ghent of nearly the same period. The statues which fill the niches are modern. Those of the first storey represent personages of importance in the local history of the city; those of the second, the various mediaeval guilds or trades; those of the third, the Counts of Louvain and Dukes of Brabant of all ages. The bosses or corbels which support the statues, are carved with scriptural scenes in high relief. I give the subjects of a few (beginning Left): the reader must decipher the remainder for himself. The Court of Heaven: The Fall of the Angels into the visible jaws of Hell: Adam and Eve in the Garden: The Expulsion from Paradise: The Death of Abel, with quaint rabbits escaping: The Drunkenness of Noah: Abraham and Lot: etc.

The main facade has an entrance staircase, and two portals in the centre, above which are figures of St. Peter (Left) and Our Lady and Child (Right), the former in compliment to the patron of the church opposite. This facade has three storeys, decorated with Gothic windows, and capped by a gallery parapet, above which rises the high-pitched roof, broken by several quaint small windows. At either end are the turrets of the gable, with steps to ascend them. The rows of statues represent as before (in four tiers), persons of local distinction, mediaeval guilds and the Princes who have ruled Brabant and Louvain. Here again the sculptures beneath the bosses should be closely inspected. Among the most conspicuous are the Golden Calf, the Institution of Sacrifices in the Tabernacle, Balaam's Ass, Susannah and the Elders, etc.

The gable-end to the Right, ill seen from the narrow street, resembles in its features the one opposite it, but this facade is even finer than the others.

The best general view is obtained from the door of St. Pierre, or near either corner of the Place directly opposite.



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