|Word has it that the Duke of Parma cried out 'Bel vedere' (Italian for: beautiful view) when he stood on top of this tower and looked out over a large part of the eastern river area, during a visit to the city in 1585. This is said to be the origin of the building's name. The Belvédère used to be a defence tower, built in the second half of the 15th century when the new city wall was constructed. Part of this city wall can still be seen in the Hunner Park. In 1620, the tower was renovated and in the years 1646-1649 it was enlarged by then city building master Peter van Blokhout. During this last reconstruction, when the building received its present form in Renaissance style, the roof's parapet and the plaque with the town arms above the entrance were added, among other things. In 1646, the tower also lost its position in the defence of the town. It was furnished as a centre for entertainment of the magistrate and was also used as a reception room for important visitors.
During the last centuries, the Belvédère hardly changed. Towards the end of the 19th century however, the tower had fallen into such disrepair that a thorough restoration was necessary. Town architect J.J. Weve in 1887-1888 embarked on this restoration, during which the white plaster was removed and the old plaque with the town arms was renewed, among other things. Presently, a restaurant is established in the Belvédère.
|View of the walls with Belvédère. In the foreground, the small houses just outside the Hunnerpoort. This picture was taken before 1870 by photographer Julius Schaarwächter, who moved to Nijmegen in 1852|