Cloth Hall, Ypres: Distant context view, Cloth Hall on the left
Cathedral visible in center background. View taken before damage in World War I (May, 1915).
The great Cloth Hall, symbol of the town's commercial importance and a prototype for the Brabantine Gothic town hall, was begun in the 13th century and finished at the beginning of the 14th. It was one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages, when it served as the main market and warehouse for the Flemish city's prosperous cloth industry. The structure which stands today is the exact copy of the original medieval building, rebuilt after World War I. The belfry that surmounts the hall houses a 49-bell carillon. The whole complex was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. Between 1933 and 1967, the hall was meticulously reconstructed to its prewar condition, under the guidance of architects J. Coomans and P.A. Pauwels.