Terii’s Cycling Babble


Bruges, Damme & Countryside » 09-16 e Tower 1

Belfry of Bruges

The Belfort is a medieval bell tower in the historical center of Bruges in Belgium. A prominent symbol of the city, it formerly housed a treasury and municipal archives, and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other dangers. A narrow steep staircase of 366 steps is accessible to the public for an entry fee. It leads to the top of the 83 meter high building which leans a meter to the east.

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

The octagonal upper state of the tower was added between 1483 and 1487 and capped with a wooden spire bearing an image of Saint Michael, banner in hand and dragon under foot. The spire did not last long. A lightning strike in 1493 reduced it to ashes and destroyed the belfry as well. A wooden spire crowned the summit again for some 2 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 tower somewhat lower than in the past. An open work stone parapet of Gothic style was added to the rooftop in 1822.

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

In the 1500’s 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 of 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 1800’s, but today the bells number 47. Together they weigh 27.5 tonnes ranging in weight from 2 pounds to 11,000 pounds.

(Taken from Wikipedia)

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