This week we’re talking about a building we’re sure you have all walked past – the Stadhuis, or City Hall! Unmissable on the Markt, the City Hall has remained relatively unchanged over the centuries but has lots of stories to tell. Join us as we share some of them with you!
These first two images are the plans for the City Hall building by Pieter Post, c. 1666. Both are engravings by P. van der Aa (c. 1715) created from drawings by Post (c. 1666) ( (c) Wikimedia Commons – left; (c) Wikimedia Commons – right).
Renderings of the 19th century interior can be seen here illustrated by Philippe van Gulpen. The left image shows the ‘plein’ or ‘square’ of the building facing the east in c. 1853 ( (c) RHCL). The image of the right shows two illustrations with the top depicting the Princes Room, and bottom showing the Council hall being used as the city library (c. 1840, (c) RHCL).
The first image above (top left) shows the exterior of the city hall in a 1860 engraving by Alexander Schaepkens ( (c) RHCL). The second image (top right) shows the interior of the City Hall, the ‘square’, in c. 1913 ( (c) RHCL). The bottom image is a stereo photograph of City Hall taken on 02/02/1901 ( (c) RHCL).
Above are photographs of the City Hall in the twentieth century. The first image (top left) shows the Marks filled with market stalls – an experience many lot of us will be familiar with – in 1962 ( (c) RHCL). The second photograph (top right) shows a Christmas meal in City Hall as part of the winter relief campaign in 1941 ( (c) RHCL).
The third image (bottom left) shows the creation and distribution of identity cards in the basement of City Hall in 1941 ( (c) RHCL). The identity card process was introduced in 1941 with each card having a photo of the holder on the front and a fingerprint on the back. Every resident above 14 years old had to carry it this identity card.
The fourth image here (bottom right) shows the basement of City Hall in use as the Department of Internal Affairs with Mr Brabers, Mr Bos and Mr Peters (c. 1980, (c) RHCL).
Above are photographs of the lavish interiors of the building including paintings, tapestries, architectural features and other decorations. The first image (top left) shows the ceiling paintings in the central room which were painted between 1667-1671 by the Hague artist Theodoor van der Schuer ( (c) RHCL). The second picture (top centre) shows the Mayor’s Room which includes gold leather wallpaper purchased in 1737 under Mayor Godaert van Slijpe (c. 1964, (c) RHCL).
These decorations have needed care over the years and the paintings have been renovated, as shown in the third photograph (top right) of AM Volders restoring some paint work under the watchful eye of MJ Lau (c. 1951, (c) RHCL).
The final photograph above (bottom) is of a tapestry from the ‘Moses series’ in the Princes Room, woven in 1737 at the Van der Borcht studio in Brussels, after a design by Jan van Orley ( (c) S. Minis & A. de Heer via Wikimedia Commons).
A unique annual tradition that takes place in City Hall is the handing over of the city key to the Prince of Carnaval each year. In the first photograph (left) is Prince Raymond I Willems, who has been given the key from the City authorities and can proudly hold sway for the rest of 1971 Carnaval ( (c) RHCL). The second image (right) shows a visit from the Düsseldorf Princes Guard at the invitation of the CV “Tempeleers” during Carnaval 1955 ( (c) RHCL).
Another special feature of City Hall is its bells, which city residents visitors can hear throughout the day. The top right image was taken while 11 bells from the Sint Servaas Church were lifted into the tour of the Stadhuis in 1956 ( (c) RHCL).
The second image (top right) shows a number of these bells and others as part of the City Hall carillon which was restored in 1962 and includes 17 bells from Hemony, 11 bells from Van der Ghijn from the Sint Servaaskerk and 15 bells from Eysbouts (1980, (c) RHCL).
The bottom photo is of Frank Steijns who now plays the carillon for the city (as well as Weert and Heerlen) and can also be seen in André Rieu’s orchestra (photo (c) Frank Seijns, via dyhn.nl, 2019).
Above is a video of some of the musical tribute to David Bowie mentioned by Lucy in the podcast and played by Frank Steijns on the carillon (2016).
It is also possible to get married at City Hall and above are three couples more than a century apart enjoying their special day on the Markt! The first image (top) shows the Bonhomme – Vrancken wedding which took place in 1890 ( (c) RHCL). The second photo (centre) is a modern wedding taking place inside City Hall ( (c) huibvintges.com).
The third (bottom) photograph is Frank Steijns – yes, the carillon player – and his lovely wife on their wedding day at the very top of City Hall! Thanks to Frank for permission to use this photograph ( (c) Frank Steijns 2020).
Above are modern photographs of the City Hall building as it stands in 2020 ( (c) Katrina Marshall). The square is relatively empty as residents continue to social distance and at the top of the tower, a big teddy bear is ready for any children (or children at heart) to spot it in a bear hunt.
As always, if you have something you have always wanted to know about Maastricht or wanted to ask a local, please contact us through social media or our website and we will do our best to answer your questions in future episodes!