The belfry of Bruges
, or Belfort
, is a medieval bell tower
in the historical centre of Bruges
. One of the city's 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.
To the sides and back of the tower stands the former market hall, a rectangular building only 44 m broad but 84 m deep, with an inner courtyard. The belfry, accordingly, is also known as the Halletoren
(tower of the halls).
The building is a central feature of the 2008 film In Bruges
The belfry was added to the main 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 to 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... Read More