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Belfry of Ghent

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Belfrey
Location type: Belfrey
Location address: België, Oost-Vlaanderen, 9000, Gent, Sint-Baafsplein
Number of texts: 9
5 stars
Made by Vizit

The belfrey acted as a watchtower and was populated by a hand-full guards. In case of fire or other danger, these men sound the storm bell, called “Klokke Roeland”.

These guards were replaced later on, by stone copies . You can see a set of four on the corners of the belrey. They became the symbol of a local bank “Gemeentekrediet”, and where called by the locals as “Gemeentenaarkes”.

They are also called the “pot-crappers” or “kanneschijters” because of the following reason: they had to climb about 200 stairs before they reached their post. Because they wre not allowed to leave their post, they had to find a solution for the “full bladder”-problem. Therefore, they took along a pot.

Linked characteristics: Child friendly, Did you know..., Peculiar

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Made by StadGent | © All rights reserved
Made by Dromos | © All rights reserved

Opposite the west door of the cathedral the Belfry reaches towards the heavens. At the top of this noble watchtower, the dragon keeps guard over both the inhabitants of the city and its freedoms, which it acquired in 1180. This dragon is already the third identical copy of the original 400 kilo copper colossus, and the 1377 original is on display in the watchman’s room. Since 1999 the belfry has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list of protected monuments. The city’s Tourist Officis in the Cloth Hall that adjoins the Belfry.
From the top of the Civic Theatre, the god Apollo, flanked by his muses, looks down on this superbly renovated square. While water flows from the fountain, it is beer that flows in abundance on the many lively pavement cafés around the square.

Linked themes: World heritage

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Made by Westtoer POIs | © All rights reserved
Made by Westtoer POIs | © All rights reserved

The Belfry is the proudest symbol of the city’s independence. The Belfry is the middle of the famous three-tower row, together with the Saint Bavo’s Cathedral and the Saint Nicholas’ Church. The construction started in 1313. The Belfry had different functions: keeping of the municipal privileges, watch tower and carillon and chime bells. In 1999, Unesco classified the belfry of Ghent. Belfries symbolize the human urge for freedom and democracy and play an exceptional role in the fields of architecture, urban planning and musical history.

Linked themes: Cultural heritage

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The linnen-trade hall as an attachement to the belfrey of the 15th century. Only linnen which went throught the quality control could be sold here.

In the 18th century, the building was used as a town-hall. For that reason, an extra entrance for the prisson and house for the warden was built by the town-achitect David t’Kindt on the other side of the belfrey.

At that time, the original function of the linen-trade hall was gone.

Linked themes: History

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During the start of the Ghent Festival in 1914, the large bell of the Belfrey broke. The bell was almost 2 and a half centuries old. The bell was made by the famous bell-maker Hemony in the year 1670. 

She was placed at the foot of the belfrey after the burst. Only in the year 1948, a new bell called “Roeland” was installed.

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Made by wikipedia.org | Reference Maros | © CC 3.0
Made by wikipedia.org | Reference Wikipedia.org | © CC 3.0

The 91-metre-high belfry of Ghent is one of three medieval towers that overlook the old city centre of Ghent, Belgium, the other two belonging to Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas’ Church. Its height makes it the tallest belfry in existence.[citation needed] Through the centuries, it has served not only as a bell tower to announce the time and various warnings, but also as a fortified watchtower and town treasury.

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Made by Dromos | Reference Wikipedia | © GNU
Made by Dromos | © All rights reserved

The Grote Triomphante, a bell cast from the remains of Klokke Roeland,  was notorious in its day but was smashed to pieces in 1659. It hopes one day to be allowed to return to the Belfry as the 55th bell in the unique carillon. Are you reading this on a Sunday morning? If so, it is quite possible you are at this very moment listening to a splendid carillon concert.

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In the year 1936, the Belfrey became a protected monument by Belgian law. In the year 1999 it it was put on the list of the Cultural Heritage of the World from Unesco.

Linked themes: World heritage

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Made by Dromos | © All rights reserved

The Unesco classified the 23 belfries in the north of France and 30 Belgian belfries as a part of the Unesco World Heritage program. They are highly significant tokens of the winning of civil liberties. Whilst Italian, German and English towns mostly opted to build town halls, in part of northwestern Europe (France, Belgium and the Netherlands), greater emphasis was placed on building belfries. Originally, a belfry was erected as a sign of communal independence obtained by charter, and as the very symbol of freedom. Compared to the keep (symbol of the seigneurs, i.e. feudal lord) and to the bell-tower (symbol of the Church), the belfry, the third tower in the urban landscape, symbolizes the power of the aldermen. Over the centuries, they came to represent the influence and wealth of the towns.

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