The Belfry of Bruges
The Belfry, the pride of Bruges and the Market’s most famous building, is a sight not to be missed in our city. In 1999 UNESCO classified it as World heritage, together with 55 other belfries across Europe. While the tower was also used for practical purposes, it is primarily a symbol of the wealth, power and freedom of the city. It is also slightly skewed.
A touch of Pisa in Bruges
Before becoming one of the three famous towers of Bruges, the Belfort underwent many transformations. The original year of construction is hard to establish, but the bottom part is probably from the 13thcentury. The spire itself burned down several times and was not given the neogothic finish until the 19thcentury, which we can admire to this time. What used to be the spire became the octagonal crown.
The 83-metre-high tower, having 366 steps, is actually not completely straight. Since the renovations in the 16thcentury it partly sank into the unstable soil, with the tower leaning one metre eastward as a result. Through the centuries this inclination gave the citizens of Bruges many headaches, but in spite of the worrying sight, it never was in danger of collapsing. A strong example of Bruges architecture!
The sound of Bruges
One of the main characteristics of the Belfry is its carillon. The carillon of 47 bells, 26 of which are still in use today, has played the same familiar tune each quarter of an hour for seven and a half centuries. Centuries ago the carillon was one of the main means of communication of the city. The bells announced specific moments, such as the end of the work hours and from what time it was forbidden to walk the street without a torch. In 2019 the city carilloneur plays the bells on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays using his keyboard. In summer you can enjoy extraordinary carillon concerts.
Major vantage point
For the very best view of the city, go to the Belfry. During the solid climb (366 steps to be precise) you pass the treasury, where the most important city deeds were kept, the triumphal bell of over 6,000 kilos and the carilloneur. At the end, the Belfry treats you to an impressive panorama. In clear weather you can look all the way to the sea port of Zeebrugge. We ourselves can look for hours at the countless medieval roofs, the centuries-old street pattern and the small people on the Market. It is worth every step.
Bruges is a city with an ancient face, but with the heart of a young twenty-something. The centuries-old city of art keeps reinventing itself non-stop, even though it looks like a place where time has stood still. We will gladly prove to you that modern Bruges is more than the sum of its historic parts.