Civic Pride

They must have been the pride of each community: Dutch town halls are in many cases well maintained architectural jewels, and no expense seems to have been spared on decorating them. In a country that takes modesty as a cardinal value, they are among the very few imposing public buildings to be discovered.

After the year 1000, Western Europe went through a period of economic growth and increased political stability. A result of this evolution was the development of towns, which became in many cases small city-states, with their own laws, currencies and independent local institutions. In the Netherlands, this trend is visible especially in the 13th century. At that time, most Dutch towns gained the right to govern themselves without interference from the local aristocracy, marking the end of the feudal order.

The town halls, sieges of the local governments, are the most visible symbol of this local autonomy and prosperity. Built in a great variety of styles, they provide visitors an opportunity to study all artistic and architectural trends from the last 6-700 years. In many cases, at least a few halls are also open for visits. Here are a few examples:

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