Cambrai Belfry

Cambrai, France

Cambrai Belfry was erected in the 11th and again in the 13th century as a symbol of community freedom. However it was destroyed several times when local uprisings were crushed. In 1395, Cambrai obtained final authorisation from the Emperor Venceslas to have a belfry, a function performed by the bell-tower of Saint-Martin church in the middle of the 16th century. Its role later saved it from destruction, when the church was sold as a national asset during the Revolution.

Built between 1447 and 1474 in Gothic style, equipped with powerful buttresses, it was topped by an amazing twisted spire flanked by four corner turrets. This was replaced in the 18th century by the classical dome that we know today. The four sculptures that adorn the top, produced in 1924, represent characters that illustrate key moments in the history of Cambrai. The belfry contained the community bell and the town watchmen’s department, the “gallus”, which lasted until 1934.

Today Cambrai belfry is one of the Belfries of Belgium and France, which is the group of 56 historical buildings designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Site.

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