Belfry of Bruges

Bruges, Belgium

The belfry of Bruges, or Belfort, is a medieval bell tower and one of the Bruges' most prominent symbols. The belfry formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives, and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger. A narrow, steep staircase of 366 steps, accessible by the public for an entry fee, leads to the top of the 83-metre-high building, which leans about a metre to the east.

The belfry was added to the market square around 1240, when Bruges was prospering as an important centre of the Flemish cloth industry. After a devastating fire in 1280, the tower was largely rebuilt. The city archives, however, were forever lost to the flames.

The octagonal upper stage of the belfry was added between 1483 and 1487, and capped with a wooden spire bearing an image of Saint Michael, banner in hand and dragon underfoot. The spire did not last long: a lightning strike in 1493 reduced it to ashes, and destroyed the bells as well. A wooden spire crowned the summit again for some two-and-a-half centuries, before it, too, fell victim to flames in 1741. The spire was never replaced again, thus making the current height of the building somewhat lower than in the past; but an openwork stone parapet in Gothic style was added to the rooftop in 1822.

The bells in the tower regulated the lives of the city dwellers, announcing the time, fire alarms, work hours, and a variety of social, political, and religious events. Eventually a mechanism ensured the regular sounding of certain bells, for example indicating the hour.

In the 16th century the tower received a carillon, allowing the bells to be played by means of a hand keyboard. Starting from 1604, the annual accounts record the employment of a carilloneur to play songs during Sundays, holidays and market days. In 1675 the carillon comprised 35 bells, designed by Melchior de Haze of Antwerp. After the fire of 1741 this was replaced by a set of bells cast by Joris Dumery, 26 of which are still in use. There were 48 bells at the end of the 19th century, but today the bells number 47, together weighing about 27.5 tonnes. The bells range from weighing two pounds to 11,000 pounds.

Belfry of Bruges is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Belfries of Belgium and France.

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Address

Markt, Bruges, Belgium
See all sites in Bruges

Details

Founded: c. 1240
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Belgium

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Elie Ghattas (4 months ago)
A beautiful experience. Going up the tower to see the whole city gives you amazing views of the sea, the port and the surroundings. You also get to see the mechanism of the clock and the bells ringing.
Ron Mosocco (7 months ago)
The Belfry of Bruges was built during the Middle Ages and is worth paying the admission fee to climb the 366 steps for a panoramic view of the largest city and capital of West Flanders. It is not the easiest climb so make sure you are physically fit to make the climb.
joseph mathew (7 months ago)
The history behind the Belfry is interesting. For a fee you can go up to the top of the Belfry offering a bird's eye view of Brugge. The Belfry is lit up at night and provides a beacon for lost travellers to get their bearings. That is what we did and in Brugge it is goes without saying that 99.9% of the visitors will partake in the superb selection of Belgian beers. After a few , it is a good idea to have the Belfry as a bearing when trying to navigate through the maze like cobblestoned streets of Brugge.
Arthit Yodyunyong (8 months ago)
The staffs weren't unfriendly as depicted in the movie. Also it's almost impossible to have the tower for yourself even though they currently limit the visitor number to about 15-20 per hour. Last but not least you can't jump off the tower, it's netted.
Alex Blot (8 months ago)
The view is astonishing! Yesterday the weather was so nice (and really hot) that we could see the sea! Absolutely amazing!
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