Provinciaal Hof

Bruges, Belgium | C.1892

Photo Credit: Tim Gates

The 19th-century Neo Gothic Provinciaal Hof building has a long history. While the first section was initially built in 1892, the building’s site located at the center of Bruges’ grand market has hosted meeting halls since the late 13th century.

Ancient in origin, Bruges is the capital and largest city in West Flanders in the Flemish region of Belgium. The canal-based city is centered around the grand market, which is home to many of the city’s most famous buildings, including the Provinciaal Hof. In 1294, a massive commercial warehouse (Waterhalle) was built as the central point for the port of Bruges. Five centuries later, the Waterhalle was demolished when boats could no longer reach it.

In the mid 19th Century, provincial government meetings were held at the site of the former Waterhalle, which had been replaced by a neoclassical-style building. In 1878, the building burned down and its replacement was intended to house the province and a post office. Designed by architects Louis Delacenserie and René Buyck, construction of the Neo Gothic successor began in 1887.

Four years later, construction on the first part of the Provinciaal Hof began, and by 1920, the building was finished. Inside, the building is outfitted with stained glass windows, iron work, and the central meeting room houses sculptures of royalty by Belgian sculptor Hendrik Pickery. Murals and paintings from the Romantic Era adorn its walls.

The Provinciaal Hof was utilized as a government meeting hall until 1999. Belgium’s national government considered selling it, but the provincial government protested and won. Today, the Hof remains standing, its significant history intact, but these days it hosts more ceremonies & exhibitions than official government business.

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