Belfries of Belgium and France

Diksmuide Belfry

Diksmuide belfry contains a 30-bell carillon and is one of the several belfries of Belgium and France that are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. The City Hall and neighbouring Saint Nicolas Church were completely rebuilt after World War I in the Gothic style of the 14th and 15th centuries. The foundation stone of the town hall was laid in 1428. major renovations were carried out between 1567 and 1572. The con ...
Founded: 1428 | Location: Diksmuide, Belgium

Binche Town Hall

Binche"s town hall and belfry dates back to the 14th century. Burnt down by the French in 1554, the hall was soon restored in a Renaissance style by architect Du Broeucq. In the 18th century, the architect Dewelz covered the building with a neoclassical façade but, after major restoration works in 1901, the town hall regained its Renaissance appearance. A Baroque onion dome crowns the belfry. The belfry houses ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Binche, Belgium

Veurne Town Hall

Several Renaissance-style buildings, mostly built using the local light-coloured brick, adorn Veurne’s central market square, which make it one of Belgium"s finest market squares. Among these are the city hall (Landhuis) and belfry, which is recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1999. The Belfry of Cecilia Tower was built in 1628.
Founded: 1628 | Location: Veurne, Belgium

Dendermonde Town Hall

The former Cloth Hall on the Dendermonde Market Square is a jewel of Flemish medieval architecture. The Town Hall is especially colourful during the summer months, when it is embellished with heraldic flags and flower baskets. The Belfry, Unesco World Heritage since 1999, has housed a carillon since 1548, complete according to the Mechelen Standard with 49 bells, of 6800 kgs total weight. You will appreciate the magnifi ...
Founded: 1337 | Location: Dendermonde, Belgium

Nieuwpoort City Hall and Belfry

The Nieuwpoort belfry tower (as part of the city Hall) is one of the 56 belfries in Belgium and France, whose has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The belfry stands above the rectangular city hall which originates from the 14th century. During the First World War tower and the hall were, along with the entire city, almost completely destroyed. In 1921-1923 the belfry and the hall were reconstructed. The hal ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Nieuwpoort, Belgium

Eeklo City Hall

The red-brick Eeklo city hall is a mixture of 17th century Flemish Renaissance architecture and modern renovations. One of the later additions (1930-32) is the belfry tower, which houses the town bells formerly kept in the adjacent church. Despite its young age and modest appearance, the tower became part of a set of belfries inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999.
Founded: 17th century | Location: Eeklo, Belgium

Basilica of Our Lady

The Gothic tower of the Basilica of Our Lady dominates over the town of Tongeren and the surrounding area. It was built in Gothic style in the 13th century and recent excavations have produced some of the richest archaeological finds in Flanders. Archaeological excavations have proven the presence of an edifice here starting from the 4th century, while a Carolingian prayer house existed here in the 9th century. The buildi ...
Founded: 1240 | Location: Tongeren, Belgium

Schepenhuis

The Schepenhuis (Aldermen"s House) of Aalst is a former city hall, one of the oldest in the Low Countries. Dating originally from 1225, it was partially rebuilt twice as a result of fire damage, first after a 1380 war and again after a fireworks accident in 1879. The belfry tower at one corner of the building was completed in 1460, and in the next year was equipped with a carillon built by master craftsmen from Mech ...
Founded: 1225 | Location: Aalst, Belgium

Herentals Cloth Hall

The Cloth Hall of Herentals with its belfry is one of the 56 belfries in Belgium and France, whose has been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cloth hall dates from the 15th century, however it was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1534 and rebuilt.
Founded: 1534 | Location: Herentals, Belgium

Gembloux Belfry

The Gembloux belfry is part of the former parish church of Saint-Sauveur which dates probably date back to the 10th century. The church was no longer in use from 1810 and then demolished. In 1905, the bell tower was destroyed by a fire. From 1907 this was replaced by a new spherical bell. Gembloux"s Belfry belongs to the set of belfries of Belgium and France inscribed on UNESCO"s World Heritage List in 2005.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gembloux, Belgium

Tielt Belfry

The centrepiece of the Tielt market square is the belfry, which is the only remnant of the cloth hall. Its carillon was built by the du Mery brothers from Bruges in 1773. It has 36 bells with a total weight of 831 kilograms. It’s the only complete du Mery carillon in Flanders. The belfry is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Founded: 1773 | Location: Tielt, Belgium

Lo-Reninge Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Lo is a historic landmark in the municipality of Lo-Reninge. Formerly the seat of the municipal government, the building is now a hotel and restaurant. The hall was built in 1565-1566 in Renaissance style by Joos Staesin from Ypres, in replacement of an older, dilapidated town hall. At the corner of the building is a belfry tower, supported in the front by two Tuscan columns. The four walls at the to ...
Founded: 1565-1566 | Location: Lo-Reninge, Belgium

St. Germanus Church

St. Germanus Church with Stadstoren (City Tower) was built in the first half of the 12th century. The church was destroyed and rebuilt several times. Parts of the original church remain from the 14th-15th century. The tower was erected in 1555. Together with plenty other belfries in Belgium and France St. Germanus Church was recognised by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1999.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Tienen, Belgium

Belfry of Thuin

The Belfry of Thuin is one of 56 belfries of Belgium and France since 1999 classified world heritage of UNESCO. The tower of the old church of Saint-Théodard, built without foundations on slate rock, is undeniably medieval and must date from the time of the greatest development of the city. Specifically in the period between 1153 and 1164 during visits of Bishop Henri-Leez prince decides to erect a tower for the ch ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Thuin, Belgium

St. Leonard's Church

The Saint Leonard"s Church in Zoutleeuw stands on the former site of a Romanesque chapel erected in 1125 by Benedictines from Vlierbeek Abbey near Leuven. Construction of the present church began around 1231, and additions continued into the 16th century. Rendered mainly in the Gothic style, the building in its oldest parts shows traces of the Romanesque. The two heavy square towers flanking the west facade are conn ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Zoutleeuw, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.