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Distribution of the belfries in Belgium and Northern France, which are world heritage sites

The belfry ( Belfort in Dutch , Beffroi or Belefroi in French ) is a tall, slender bell tower that is particularly typical of Flemish cities.


Most of the belfries were built during the Gothic period and are among the most important secular buildings of the Middle Ages . They were often preceded by wooden towers, none of which have survived. They were erected by the secular city ​​authorities or the guilds or guilds as symbols of bourgeois power, also in relation to that of the church. Usually the belfry is connected to the town hall or is free-standing next to it.

As the safest place in a city, the tower usually housed the city ​​archives , the treasury and often a prison . In addition, it served as a watchtower (to quickly detect enemies, but also city ​​fires ) and to proclaim public affairs. These tasks were performed by the tower keeper. A city ​​bell , from the 16th century also the carillon , whose main distribution areas are also in Belgium, northern France and the Netherlands , structured the time and gave the signal to open and close the city gates, marked the beginning and end of working hours or rang for festivities. The donjon and keep of a castle have similar functions to the urban belfry .

Belfries in Belgium and France

23 belfries in northern France ( French Flanders ) and 33 belfries in Belgium were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1999 and 2005 . Some church towers were added to the list with the actual belfries ; these are marked in italics in the list. Belfries are a Flemish architectural phenomenon, therefore the Flemish names of the French or Walloon cities are added in brackets.

city region construction time height World Heritage since particularities image
Aalst Belgium , East Flanders 1460 1999 late Gothic ; replaced a corner tower from the 13th century, which was the oldest in the Netherlands; Carillon with 52 bells
Aalst belfry.jpg
France , Somme 1986 27 meters 2007 Almost completely destroyed in World War II and not faithfully reconstructed until 1986
Abbeville Beffroi 2005-09-29.jpg
(Ariën aan de Leie)
France, Pas-de-Calais 1724 45 meters 2005 Previous building from 1355; rebuilt true to the original after the First World War
Belfry Aire-sur-la-Lys.jpg
Amiens France, Somme 1749 52 meters 2005 Previous building from 1410; current building from 1749; destroyed and rebuilt in World War II
Le beffroi d'Amiens 2004.JPG
Antwerp Belgium, Antwerp Province 15./16. Century, completed 1518 123 meters 1999 Church tower of the Cathedral of Our Lady ; defining the late Gothic flamboyant style ; Carillon with 49 bells
OLV-kathedraal Antwerpen.jpg
Antwerp Belgium, Antwerp Province 1561-1564 1999 Town hall on the Grote Markt built by Cornelis Floris II in the Renaissance style
Antwerp Stadhuis crop1 2006-05-28.jpg
France, north 1926-1934 67 meters 2005 Part of the town hall; Carillon with 11 bells; Previous building from 1510; destroyed in the First World War and then rebuilt
Armentieres - Town Hall - Belfry.jpg
France, Pas-de-Calais 1554 75 meters 2005 Town hall tower; after the First World War, faithfully reconstructed
Arras Hôtel de ville et Beffroi.jpg
France, north 1932 2005 medieval building destroyed in World War I and not faithfully reconstructed; Carillon with 35 bells
France, north 1961 54 meters 2005 Original construction from 1240; Destroyed in 1944, rebuilt in a simplified form in 1961; Carillon with 50 bells. He also became known through the film " Willkommen bei den Sch'tis ".
Beffroi Bergues.jpg
France, Pas-de-Calais 1346 33 meters 2005 Damaged in the First World War; true to the original, but rebuilt in a staggered manner; Carillon with 35 bells
Beffroi de Bethune.jpg
Binche Belgium, Hainaut 14th Century 1999 Part of the town hall
Binche 060110.JPG
France, Pas-de-Calais 18th century 47 meters 2005 Original construction from the 12th century; Damaged in 1712 and rebuilt in its current form
Boulogne beffroi.JPG
Belgium, West Flanders 14./15. Century; from 1240 as a wooden tower 83 meters 1999 Belfry (Bruges)
Belfort Brugge.jpg
France, Pas-de-Calais 1925 75 meters 2005 Start of construction in 1910, completion after the First World War in 1925. Architect Louis Debrouwer from Dunkirk (Dunkerque) used a new construction technique, namely the use of reinforced concrete.
Belfort Calais.jpg
France, north 1736 62.5 meters 2005 Original construction from 1447–1474; current construction from 1736
Charleroi Belgium, Hainaut 1936 70 meters 1999 Erected in Art Deco style as part of the town hall.
Charleroi - Hôtel de Ville - Beffroi- 2017.jpg
France, north 1623 58 meters 2005
Comines (France) JPG02.jpg
Dendermonde Belgium, East Flanders 1377 1999 Originally a corner tower of the Cloth Hall , which was expanded into a town house in 1377; During the First World War , the entire old town was badly damaged, and the carillon was also lost, which was replaced in 1975 by a new one with 49 bells; Rebuilt in 1925/26
Stadhuis Dendermonde.jpg
Diksmuide Belgium, West Flanders 1999
Diksmuide stadhuis, belfort, St Niclaas.jpg
France, north 1380-1475 54 meters 2005 Carillon with 62 bells
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot 018.jpg
France, Somme 1613 28 meters 2005 Town hall tower
Doullens beffroi-1.jpg
(Duinkerke; French Dunkerque)
France, north 15th century 58 meters 2005 The Belfry of Dunkirk was previously integrated as a steeple in St. Eligius Church , and has been free-standing since 1782; Carillon with 50 bells
Dunkerque Belfort.JPG
Dunkirk France, north 1901 75 meters 2005 Tower of the Hôtel de Ville (town hall)
Dunkerque boats and belfry.JPG
Eeklo Belgium, East Flanders 1932; Town hall built in the 17th century 1999
Eeklo - Stadhuis + Kerk.jpg
Belgium, Namur 2005
Gembloux JPG01.jpg
Ghent Belgium, East Flanders around 1313-1380 95 meters 1999 Belfry (Ghent)
France, north 1608 32 meters 2005
Beffroi de Gravelines.jpg
France, Pas-de-Calais 1563-1629 2005
Beffroi d'Hesdin.jpg
(Ger. Ypres)
Belgium, West Flanders 1200-1230 70 meters 1999 Part of the Cloth Hall , badly destroyed at the beginning of the First World War, but reconstructed as true to the original as possible from the 1920s until 1967
Yper Belfort.JPG
Herentals Belgium, Antwerp Province 1534 35 meters 1999 former cloth hall; based on plans by Peter Moens and Merten Casus; Carillon with 50 bells
P1020631 copyLakenhal Herentals.jpg
Kortrijk Belgium, West Flanders oldest parts from 1307 1999 formerly part of the old cloth hall, free-standing since it was demolished in 1899
Kortrijk Belfry.jpg
Belgium, Flemish Brabant 1507-1541 1999 Unfinished church tower of the Sint-Pieterskerk , the tower should be approx. 165 meters high according to Joost Massys ' plans , two further outer ones each 136 meters high; After collapsing in 1570, 1572 and 1603, the uppermost part of the tower was demolished in 1613
Sint-Pieterskerk Leuven.jpg
Lier Belgium, Antwerp Province 1369 1999 According to plans by Hendrik Mijs; Part of the town hall from 1741, but older; since 1971 carillon with 23 bells
Lier Stadhuis.jpg
France, north 1924-1932 104 meters 2005 New building based on plans by Émile Dubuisson in the Art Deco style after the old tower was destroyed in the First World War
Beffroi Lille.jpg
Lo Belgium, West Flanders 1565-1566 1999 built according to plans by Joos Staesin in the Renaissance style; Part of the former town hall; today hotel and restaurant
Lo - Stadhuis en belfort.jpg
Loos France, north 1880 2005 based on plans by Louis Marie Cordonnier
Beffroi de Loos (3) .JPG
Lucheux France, Somme 2005
Lucheux beffroi.jpg
Mechelen Belgium, Antwerp Province 1449-1520 97 meters 1999 Church tower of Sint-Rombouts Cathedral ; based on plans by Rombout Keldermans ; unfinished due to financial difficulties, originally a height of 167 meters was planned; two carillons
Mechelen Sint-Rombouts.JPG
Mechelen Belgium, Antwerp Province 14th Century 1999 unfinished; originally part of the cloth hall, which was converted into the town hall in 1526 by Rombout Keldermans
Mechelen Grote Markt 9-06-2012 14-39-43.jpg
Men Belgium, West Flanders 1574-1610 33 meters 1999 Town hall tower; Carillon with 49 bells
Menen - Stadhuis en belfort.jpg
Belgium, Hainaut 1661-1672 87 meters 1999 free-standing baroque tower on the ground of an earlier castle
Mons beffroi JPG01B.jpg
Belgium, Namur 1388, renewed in 1450, restored in 1753 1999
01-Namur-300605 (1) .jpg
Nieuwpoort Belgium, West Flanders 1922 1999 Town hall in neo -renaissance style ; the original town hall was destroyed in the First World War
Oudenaarde Belgium, East Flanders first half of the 16th century 1999 Town hall in the Brabant Gothic style
Oudenaarde stadhuis 25-9-2016 09-52-11.JPG
Roeselare Belgium, West Flanders 1999
France, Somme 2005
Beffroi de Rue.JPG
France, Somme 2005
Saint-Riquier beffroi 1a.jpg
Sint-Truiden Belgium, Limburg 1608 1999
Sint-Truiden stadhuis.jpg
Thuin Belgium, Hainaut 1639 1999 originally the steeple of the Saint-Theobard church, which was demolished in 1811
Thuin JPG001.jpg
Tielt Belgium, West Flanders 1558-1560; Predecessor construction 1275 1999 Hall gates of the former cloth hall; Carillon from 1773 with 36 bells
Halletoren Tielt.jpg
Tienen Belgium, Flemish Brabant 1323 1999 Sint-Germanuskirche with city tower
Tienen Sint-Germanuskerk 2.jpg
Tongeren Belgium, Limburg 1442-1544 1999 Tower of the Basilica of Our Lady
Tongeren Basilica.jpg


Belgium, Hainaut around 1200 1999 Carillon with 43 bells; 1844 redesigned in neo-Gothic style
Tournai JPG02a.jpg
Veurne Belgium, West Flanders 1617-1628 1999
Veurne markt.jpg
Zoutleeuw Belgium, Flemish Brabant from 1231 1999 Church tower of the Sint-Leonarduskerk; Carillon with 24 bells

Belfries in neighboring regions

city region building construction time height World Heritage since particularities image
Sluis Zeeuws Vlaanderen City Hall Tower (Commons: Category) from 1386 Rijksmonument 33890 the only belfry in the Netherlands , tower completely destroyed in World War II Overzicht van het stadhuis - Sluis - 20399915 - RCE.jpg
Cologne Rhineland Cologne Council Tower from 1402 61 In contrast to the older parts of the town hall, it belongs to the Brabant Gothic style; Carrillon, however, probably only since 1958 City hall tower Cologne - east side (4613) .jpg


The belfry experienced a renaissance in numerous town hall buildings, but also post offices, train stations and other public buildings of the neo-Gothic style in the late 19th and early 20th centuries , now also outside of the original area of ​​distribution.

Web links

Commons : Belfries of Belgium and France  - album with pictures, videos and audio files