The Belfry of Bruges or Belfort is a bell tower with history dating as far back as 1240 when construction was started on the halls and the tower. By 1280 it was ready. The structure included the four wings of the cloth hall and the square parts of the belfry. The square tower was crowned with a wooden spire. But in August 1280 a fire destroyed the wooden crown. By 1300 it was repaired. The bells were used by the residents
during various occasions – good and bad. There were bells with different sounds meant for announcing different things. They were used to announce the time, weddings, judicial hearings, work hours, opening and closing of the city gates, wars and fires, entry of the King, start of the fair, the new Church year etc. Thus the bells were an integral part of the people’s lives. In the 16th century the tower got a carillon with the help of which the bells could be played with a hand keyboard. Today the bells number 47. Apart from these, the tower also used to house the city’s important documents and municipal archives many of which were lost in the first fire. The octagonal top of the tower was built between 1482 and 1486. This had a wooden spire with the image of St. Michael with banner in hand and dragon under the feet.
In 1493 another fire broke out (due to lightening) which destroyed the woodwork, the St. Michael image and the bells. It was rebuilt and the wooden spire crowned the tower again. More reconstruction and renovation took place in 1542 and 1560. In 1741 again a fire caused much damage! But in the rebuilding thereafter, the wooden spire was not replaced. This reduced the current height of the tower from what it was earlier with the spire. The tower was restored by 1822.
The tower is actually a part of a rectangular building (the halls) with a courtyard. This was the cloth hall when Bruges was the center of Flemish cloth industry centuries ago. Today it dominates the square and is a symbol of the city. One can (for a fee) climb the steep 366 steps up the tower and enjoy the view of the city from the top.
Location of the Belfry in Bruges – The Markt Square, Bruges.
How to reach the Belfry – Walk from the station or take the frequent buses running every 10 minutes from the station to the centre of the City.
Bruges (Brugge), Belgium – An Introduction
How to get to Bruges (Brugge), Belgium – Transportation
Traveling within Bruges (Brugge), Belgium – Transport Information
The Markt (Market) Square-Bruges
Church of Our Lady & Statue of Madonna and the Child – Part 1 ; Part 2
The Beguinage (Begijnhof) of Bruges
Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek)- Part 1 ; Part 2