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Visiting the City Hall, Tongeren, Belgium: stately civic hub in the oldest Belgian city

Updated on December 19, 2012
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Tongeren City Hall
Tongeren City Hall | Source
Map location of Tongeren, Limburg, Belgium
Map location of Tongeren, Limburg, Belgium | Source

Recalling a past era

Tongeren's sense of civic identity goes back a very long way. In fact, it claims to be Belgium's oldest city, founded in Roman times.

Anyway, with such a pedigree, it definitely 'needs' a fine civic hub, and this building certainly meets the requirements. Tongeren's City Hall (Dutch: Stadhuis van Tongeren ) dates from the 18th century. Building commenced in 1737 and was completed in 1755.

This undoubtedly Classical structure has also been described as incorporating elements of Rococo and Baroque. The sedate frontage of the Town Hall incorporates a strong degree of symmetricality. Its building materials are a combination of brick and stone.

Its architect was Pascal Barbier, of Liège. The current building is a replacement of a previous structure; among its noteworthy features of the frontage are the arms of a Prince-Bishop of Liège (once a prominent landlord in the region)(1) and the ornate set of double steps which leads to the main entrance.

Interestingly, since what is now Belgium was known in the 18th century as the Austrian Netherlands, the building was intended for local government on behalf of the Austrian rulers.

The main photo, above, shows in my view the City Hall to particularly good effect, because during my visit the public square had not been cleared of traffic, whereas the picture above seems to give a really 'clean' sense of sedateness and elegance.

The City Hall is located at the Stadhuisplein , Tongeren, in the Limburg province of the Belgian Flemish region (Dutch: Vlaams gewest ).

December 18, 2012


(1) Interestingly, when the French Revolution was mirrored in parts of what is now Belgium, someone decided to damage the arms of the Prince-Bishop on the Town Hall's frontage. However, this is a particularly traditional part of Flanders, and, locally, the kind of ideology inspired by the French Revolution did not take root very strongly.

Also worth seeing

In Tongeren itself, a statue of Ambiorix, a local Belgic tribal leader in Roman times, is located close to a 13th & 14th century Basilica; part of the 14th century Béguinage (Dutch: Begijnhof ) has survived; a museum exists at the Moeren Gate (Dutch: Moerenpoort ), a Medieval development in the Roman walls; there is a Gallo-Roman Museum.

Sint-Truiden (distance: 22 kilometres); the Town Hall has a striking, tall belfry.


How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York (JFK) to Brussels Airport, where car hire is available (distance from Brussels Airport to Tongeren : 86 kilometres). The Belgian railroad company NMBS/SNCB maintains a service from Brussels to Tongeren. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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