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

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.