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Europe's Most Beautiful City Halls | Most Beautiful City Halls in Europe | European City Halls | Best City Halls in Germany | Best City Halls in Belgium | City Halls in Poland | City Halls in Italy | Half-timbered City Halls | Medieval City Halls | Historic City Halls in Europe | Historic Buildings in Europe | Things to See in Europe | Best Places to Visit in Europe | European Road Trip | European Travel Inspiration - California Globetrotter

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!

When it comes to traveling and picking out a new destination to visit, I take many things into consideration. From, location, hotels, city center, activities and restaurants. When traveling, I always stop to think about the things to do on every holiday we go on, from making sure we can do a city walking tour, to visiting a library and most importantly, starting any sightseeing at the local city hall. WHY you ask!? Because in Europe, the city hall is usually one of the most beautiful buildings in entire city center, the heartbeat of every town. So I’m here to share with you some of the most beautiful city halls in Europe we have stumbled upon!

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STUNNING City Halls in Germany

50+ STUPID Pretty Towns in Europe

 

City Halls in Europe are not always the plain, old, administrative buildings that some can be. In Europe, cities take pride in the main focal point of their town. It’s where everything happens. Today, they are still the seat of local government for many cities and you can bet that something will be going on at or near the city hall. Many of Europe’s city halls are centuries old and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, each with their own turbulent histories. Some have burned, some have been destroyed and rebuilt to their original glory, some have remained perfectly intact dating back to the Medieval Ages, the Renaissance and beyond.

Augsburg City Hall (Augsburg Rathaus) – Bavaria, Germany

Augsburg’s City Hall was built by Elias Holl between 1615-20, and is today still one of the best examples of Mannerist architecture; a combination of Renaissance and Medieval styles that eventually led to the Baroque style. Upon completion, it was the first building in the world with more than six storeys, a magnificent feat at the time! Originally built in 1385, the Rathaus would be replaced with a grander and more magnificent town hall later in in the 17th century to accommodate the Imperial Reichstag, which at the time was located in Augsburg. Today, you can see the wealth and former glory of Augsburg by taking a peak inside at the gilded walnut ceiling and splendid gold decor in the Goldener Saal. Sadly, Augsburg’s town hall would sustain heavy damage during WWII, reducing it to rubble and the completion of the restoration would not be completed until 1996.

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Bamberg Old Town Hall (Bamberg Altes Rathaus), Bavaria, Germany

One of the most unique town halls in Germany that you will find is without a doubt Bamberg‘s Old Town Hall, which straddles the Regnitz River. Perched upon a small island, is it combined with the Upper Bridge and covered in stunning Lüftmalerei (murals). You might ask why this town hall sits above a flowing river, but it wasn’t just to win the title of most unique town hall in Germany. It was on purposely built here in 1467 because the bishop of Bamberg refused to grant any land for its construction which goes to show the defiance of the town’s people who so badly desires a city hall.

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Bruges City Hall (Stadhuis van Brugge) – Flanders, Belgium

You might have thought that perhaps the Belfort Tower or the West Flanders Provincial Court was the city hall in Bruges, but you’d be mistaken. The Bruges City Hall, located in Burg Square, was built between 1376-1421 is one of the oldest city halls in the entire Netherlands region (Low Countries). For the last 600 years, Bruges has been governed by this stunning masterpiece. If you’re not already gobsmacked at the intricate details of the city hall’s beautiful facade, then by taking a tour of the inside, you will be further impressed by the Gothic Hall’s vaulted ceiling depicting the struggle between city government, sovereign rulers and the townsfolk, not to mention the history of Bruges and larger than life portraits of previous rulers. In my opinion, the Bruges City Hall looks more like a fairy tale castle than anything, don’t you think?

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Brussels Town Hall (Stadhuis van Brussel) – Flanders, Belgium

Dating back to the Middle Ages, the Gothic style Brussels Town Hall dominates the popular Grand Place, the main square considered to be one of the most beautiful main squares in the world. Considered to be a masterpiece of civil Gothic architecture, it’s the last remaining medieval structure in the square. Built between 1401 and 1421, but not completed until 1455, when the tower, standing at 96-metre-high (315 ft) was added. If you’ve been to Munich, Germany, perhaps you’ll find a similar resemblance. Taking a grand tour of the interior of the city hall is mandatory, if not pop in during the Flower Carpet Festival and stand on the balcony overlooking the town square. As the capital of Belgium, it’s only fitting that this town hall should be impressively stunning and hard not to admire!

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České Budějovice Town Hall, South Bohemia, Czech Republic

Located in Europe’s largest Main Square, the České Budějovice Town Hall sits in the southwest corner of the main square and stands out with its blue, three towered facade. Dating back to 1555, the town hall was originally built in a Renaissance style before being alters into the elegant Baroque style we see today, dating from 1727-1730. The town hall is decorated with statue allegories of Justice, Courage and Wisdom.

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Esslingen’s Medieval Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus Esslingen) – Baden-Württemburg, Germany

One of the cutest, quaintest town halls in Germany is without a doubt Esslingen‘s Medieval Town Hall with its deep red facade and dainty tower, surrounded by rolling hills lined with vineyards. While most of the town is still half-timbered, the Esslingen Town Hall, built in 1422 stands out from the rest with its Renaissance facade with the most striking appearance being its curved step-gable, bell town and astronomical clock tower while the back portion is a colorful array of half-timbered beams. It’s directly here in front of the Medieval Town Hall that you’ll find the best Medieval Christmas Market in Germany.

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Gdańsk Town Hall (Gdańsk Stary Ratusz) – Pomerania, Poland

Though Gdańsk doesn’t technically have a main square, you’ll find Gdańsk’s Town Hall standing tall in the middle of the main pedestrian street called Long Lane. Originally built in 1298, it has since been rebuilt and remodeled several times, most recently after the destruction of the entire main street during the Second World War. The Town Hall is one of the best examples of Gothic-Renaissance in the city, standing out with its stunning and typical red-brick exterior. Today, the city hall now houses the History of Gdańsk and is considered the second highest building in the city after St. Mary’s Church.

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Heppenheim Town Hall (Heppenheim Rathaus) – Hesse, Germany

Like a one of my Christmas village houses, the Heppenheim Town Hall stands out among the rest with its deep red half-timbered beams and shingled roof. Located on the south side of the Marktplatz in an old wine-growing region along the Bergstrasse (Mountain Road) – an old south-west trading route. Although originally built in 1561, it would be rebuilt as well as much of the town in 1705 in a baroque half-timbered style after having been destroyed by fire in 1683 during the Nine Years’ War. In 1958, a carillon was added after yet another fire in the tower. 

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Leuven Town Hall (Leuven Stadhuis) – Flanders, Belgium

Built between 1439-63, Leuven‘s Town Hall is one of the most stunning to date, with an extra dose of exquisite detail on the outside of the building, with 300 meticulously carved niches detailing local folktales and biblical stories all in an attempt to display the city merchants’ wealth. Crafted with lace-like detail dating back to 1448-1469, the Brabantine Late Gothic Stadhuis is located on and standing proud on the Grote Markt (Grand Square), the town hall is surrounded by other grand 17th century guild houses. Rather longer and skinnier than most robust town halls, Leuven’s town hall is all about the finer details though would need minor repairs after WWI and even more time to restore the building to it’s now present condition after further damage in WWII which was not completed until 1983.

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Michelstadt’s Medieval Town Hall (Altes Rathaus Michelstadt) – Hesse, Germany

Built in the late Gothic style in 1484, the town’s most prominent feature, the 15th century timber-frame town hall is something straight out of a fairy tale with its pointed gables and bay turrets. Considering that town halls were the focal point of each town, the main floor served as a market hall beneath the 500-year old wooden stilts in the heart of the main square, the Marktplatz. Michelstadt’s Medieval Town Hall is so delightfully charming that it’s on one of the national postage stamps! The master builder’s identity still remains a mystery although there are some speculations.

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Munich New Town Hall (München Neues Rathaus) – Bavaria, Germany

When standing in front of the impressive Neues Rathaus in Munich, you might have a slight feeling of déjà vu because it is quite similar in style and design to other impressive city halls in Vienna and Brussels. It is one of the most iconic landmarks not just in Bavaria but in Germany, not just because of its sheer size but because of its famous Glockenspiele, clock chimes with dancing figurines that have been twirling their way around since 1908! Located and dominating a large portion of Marienplatz, Munich’s New Town Hall overshadows the nearby Old Town Hall. For a truly amazing full view of the city hall, climb the Peterskirche (Peter’s Church) just opposite, or perhaps even take the elevator up the Rathaus Tower.

Daily at 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. (the 5:00 p.m. show is omitted from November through February).

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Poznań Town Hall (Poznań Stary Ratusz) – Poland

Located in the Old Market Square, Poznań’s Renaissance Town Hall is an impressive sight to behold and is completely encircled by a colorful array of gilded houses as it stands in the middle of the square. The Ratusz was built between 1550-60 and is reminiscent of a three tiered cake, topped with a grand attic and a large tower. This impressive city hall draws crowds every day to its front steps at 12 o’clock as working goats emerge from the clock tower to butt heads 12 times, a symbol of the city’s local legend. As of 1939, the building has no longer been used as the seat of government for the city but instead houses a museum.

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Prague Old Town Hall – Czech Republic

Located in the heart of the Main Square in the Old Town, you’ll find Prague‘s Old Town Hall in combination with the Astronomical Clock Tower dating back to 1410, making it the third oldest clock in the world! The tower, which was the highest in the city in the Middle Ages, was completed in 1364, and has been largely unchanged since then. The Old Town Hall is one of the most unique in terms that it is actually a conglomeration of many different smaller houses as it was continually expanded and rebuilt over time. One of best things to do in Prague is to either walk up the causal incline within the tower, or take the elevator up to the top of the Town Hall Tower for stunning views over the entire historic city center.

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Sarajevo City Hall (Vijecnica) – Bosnia-Herzegovina

Though no longer used as Sarajevo‘s City Hall, the Vijecnica was originally built between 1892-94, was built it was initially the largest and most representative building of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and served as the city hall. . However, after the end of the Second World War, this impressive neo-Moorish structure was turned into the National Library in 1949. In 1992, during the Siege of Sarajevo, the library sustained excruciating damage and nearly 700 manuscripts were lost. Citizens tried to save as many books and manuscripts as possible, all while under fire from a sniper. After extensive reconstruction and bring the building back to its former glory, the building reopened in May 2014 and today it is used as the seat and headquarters of the Mayor of Sarajevo.

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Trieste City Hall – Italy

Located in the colossal square, Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia ,the Trieste City Hall faces Europe’s largest seaside square out to the Adriatic Sea. The massive city hall, built in typical Austrian architecture commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria at the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it is flanked on either side by other impressive government buildings, and several historic coffeehouses. Built on the site of the former Magistrate’s Palace between 1873 and 1875, it was designed by architect Giuseppe Bruni. When it was completed, the construction of the city hall received negative reviews of “architectural contamination” for having incorporated Venetian and Central European reminiscences but a century later, the town hall now received positive reviews as being “a notable building in that genre from that time period”. However, because of the west facing city hall and the sun setting in the east, there’s always a lovely sunset here, especially during Blue Hour.

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Vienna City Hall (Wien Rathaus) – Austria

While Vienna is littered with stunning architectural beauties, the one the stands out the most is the Vienna City Hall, located on the Ringstraße. Built between 1872 and 1883, the city hall incorporated several Historicism aspects and built in the gothic style with five towers including its central tower reaching a height of 98m (322ft), easily reminding you of the Brussels or Munich City Halls. The City Hall faces the large Rathauspark where during the month for December, you’ll find the Rathaus Christmas Market and lasting through the winter, the Ice Skating rink.

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Wernigerode City Hall (Wernigerode Altes Rathaus) – Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Considered one of the most beautiful city halls in Europe, the Wernigerode City Hall stands out among the rest for its ochre-colored, double-spire, half-timbered Gothic style. Located in the small half-timbered town of Wernigerode in the heart of the Harz region of Northern Germany, this city hall is one of my absolute favorites. Lined by endless half-timbered houses, it was originally built as a Spelhus (a public house) in 1529-1544 after the New and Old Town of Wernigerode had merged and given its own Council Constitution. Today, it is often described as “a Pearl of Medieval timber-framed architecture”. Directly in front of the town hall, is the “Benefactor Fountain” to commemorate those who have provided outstanding services to Wernigerode and its people.

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Wroclaw Old Town Hall (Stary Ratusz) – Lower Silesian ,Poland

At the heart of the Market Square in Wroclaw is the Town Hall which is considered to be one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in central and eastern Europe. The town hall was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006. A truly remarkable building with unique Gothic characteristics on each side as it was continually renovated over 250 years from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Luckily, the town hall survived the Second World War with minimal damage and today now houses the Museum of Bourgeois Art and in the basement, you’ll find Piwnica Świdnicka – the oldest restaurant in the city  and one of the best places to eat in Wroclaw.

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If you’re interested in visiting Europe and are looking for more information, I highly recommend using the Lonely Planet Travel Guides! Without these guides, I would be lost! These are my travel Bibles!

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!

Other European Travel Inspiration Posts:

15 Things to Do Every Time You Travel

40 of the BEST Day Trips from Frankfurt

The Most Picturesque Half-timbered Towns in Germany

The ULTIMATE List of Day Trips from Munich

 

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