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Belgium Gerichtshof (June 2018)

Tomvandutch

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Until the middle of the 19th century, the Antwerp court was located on the Groenplaats, the large square near the cathedral. Due to the continuing population growth, however, the number of lawsuits also rose sharply. The location on the Groenplaats became too small. A renovation was not possible there because no other suitable buildings were available for the exercise of rights. The decision was made in 1866: the new building had to be erected on the site of the recently demolished Spanish city walls. This hampered the city's growth at the time. The city was limited, so to speak, and needed new space to expand.

The courthouse was built from 1871 to 1874 in an eclectic style. A competition was announced for the design of this building. The design was inspired by the Louvre in Paris. In addition, the monumental building had to impress the litigants and instill fear. Louis Baeckelmans (1835-1871) never saw the result of the construction: he died at a young age (shortly after work began) and his older brother Frans (1827-1896) was responsible for further coordinating the execution.

In 1877 the palace was inaugurated with a first criminal hearing. However, it will take another two years for the building to be fully completed. Due to a lack of space, a whole series of extensions and conversions followed in the first half of the 20th century. The building becomes a real labyrinth.

The courthouse is now a listed building and bears the stamp: “Architectural Heritage”. At the time of construction, the court had 8 magistrates, 3 public prosecutors, an authorized signatory and five employees. In the years 1870-71 there were 364 civil sentences and around 1875 an average of 1,707 prison sentences.

In the Assize Hall you can marvel at the gigantic paintings that represent the city's customary law. Some of the best history painters of the time contributed to these paintings. This Flemish painter lived from 1845 to 1900 and studied at the Antwerp Art Academy: he was one of the leading painters at the time of "romantic painting". Reference to the city's glorious past through nationalist art was an excellent opportunity to promote young Belgium as a homeland.

One of the few artists who was able to create a picture from the early days of the construction of the old courthouse on the Brittenlei was the Antwerp artist Eugeen Van Mieghem (° 1875, † 1930). He made a name for himself through his socially committed works of art, in which he often portrayed the lives of emigrants (emigrants who wanted to travel by ship via Antwerp to America or Canada). However, around 1900 he also made some striking sketches of lawyers and judges. Through his childhood friend Louis Franck, Van Mieghem was in contact with the board of directors of the Flemish Bar Association in Antwerp and, among other things, put together a remarkable menu for the annual banquet of this conference.

In addition to Eugeen van Mieghem, other artists also worked on the beautification of the building: In 1886, for example, the Antwerp Frans Deckers created the bronze statues De Warning and De Wet, which adorn the facade to the left and right of the main entrance.

In the entrance hall there are two bronze memorial plaques designed by the architect Ernest Dieltiens: one shows the face of the designer: Louis Baeckelmans and the other the face of his brother: Frans Baeckelmans.

After the construction of the new court, the building was empty from 2006. In order to counteract the decay, the building authority had the exterior facades and roofs restored in 2012.
The renovation began in November 2019 and the building will then be used again by the judiciary.

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Dubbed Navigator

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Awesome looking building and report to boot. There are some wonderful details in there.
Bet that was a great wander.
 
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