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Dating mostly from 1722 to 1727, when it replaced a 16th-century building as the seat of the Liberty of Bruges -- the Liberty being the name of the district around Bruges in the Middle Ages -- the palace later became a courthouse and now houses the city council's administration. Inside, at no. 11A, is the Renaissancezaal Brugse Vrije (Renaissance Hall of the Liberty of Bruges) ★★, the Liberty's council chamber, which has been restored to its original 16th-century condition. The hall has a superb black marble fireplace decorated with an alabaster frieze and topped by an oak chimneypiece carved with statues of Emperor Charles V, who visited Bruges in 1515, and his grandparents: Emperor Maximilian of Austria, Duchess Mary of Burgundy, King Ferdinand II of Aragon, and Queen Isabella I of Castile.