I am told that there has been a lot to do about the oldest house in Antwerp, also known as the city hall. Living abroad means I usually miss out on this kind of news, so when I am visiting I totally rely on friends and family to get me updated.
This year Antwerp is celebrating the 450th birthday of the city hall, which is already ‘dressed up’ with 67 flags, and they intend to fully take advantage of the opportunity to organize exceptional tours, visits, and a small exhibition. If you are lucky, Bart De Wever, the mayor himself, who seems to be passionate about history -after all, he has got a history degree- and even more so about his town and its town hall, might be the one guiding you.
The exhibition shows the history of the town hall, with interesting video messages telling different aspects of history, the work of the mayor, how the town council worked etc, and there is also a lot of information about the restorations.
The city hall was inaugurated in 1565 after some financial troubles in financing the construction, only to be burned in 1570 by the Spanish Soldiers, a fire that destroyed the interior and the roof. Only 2 years later they started the reconstruction.
Even though the a guided visit should definitely be on your to do list, tours are fully booked until mid October 2015, although I am told that during the period of the festivities (until february 2016), you can have an unguided visit to the city hall in weekends. For all those far away or not able to get a ticket, you can always console yourself by taking this virtual tour in the City Hall, although this might make you feel bad for missing it.
But if you have no ambition to get inside, you should come to the Grote Markt to admire the outsides where, from June 4 until June 13, the area will change into an oasis of green, when the ‘flower power’ takes over. A flower carpet will be put into place, which can be visited from the 4th onto the 13th, the last will be harvest day, the day you can take some of the flowers home.
tickets for the guided tours, festivities end in February 2016