BEFFROI ET HALLE AUX DRAPS
Petit Futé's opinion on BEFFROI ET HALLE AUX DRAPS
The belfry, which overlooks the building of the wool and cloth market, is one of the symbols of Bruges. Its 88 meter high tower was built in the 13th century for its square part, and at the end of the 15th century for its octagonal part. The belfries attested to the confidence of the cities of the Middle Ages. They are among the oldest examples of medieval civil and public architecture and embodied the pride and prosperity of the city's burghers. Listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco for its historical importance and role in civil society, the belfry was fully restored in 2012. Just 366 steps to conquer it: courage, the view is beautiful!
History. In reality, the first construction dates back to 1240, it was a wool and cloth hall surmounted by a wooden tower which was intended for the magistrates. But it was completely destroyed by fire, along with the first archives of the city. At that time, the administration was moved to the new town hall. It was rebuilt in 1280, with two lower quadrangular brick parts supporting a wooden spire and four turrets with stone spires. The old treasury housed the seals and charters of the medieval town until the 18th century. Then between 1482 and 1486, the hall needed space, the business of the city prospered, the wooden spire was pulled down to build a majestic octagonal tower in white stone finely chiseled in a pure Brabant gothic style, flanked by four spires just as worked. Until 1741, a 19-meter high pointed wooden construction with the statue of St. Michael still crowned the building, which was then the highest in Flanders before the one in Ghent. But in 1493, a fire destroyed it and part of the bells. This did not discourage the people of Bruges who rebuilt it this time with lions climbing inside. But lightning struck again in 1741 and the church was repaired without a spire. It was finally decorated with a neo-Gothic crown in 1822. The hall under the tower had a commercial function, used by the craftsmen who sold their fabrics. The treasure room on the first floor housed the archives since 1280, but also the laws and regulations specific to Bruges: the Hallegeboden (in Dutch: les bans des Halles). They were proclaimed from the balcony above the entrance door in front of the people who had been called in with a lot of bells. For in addition to being the official clock, to serve as a watchtower in case of fire, it was also a carillon that punctuated the life of the inhabitants. Before the 16th century, the bells were rung manually at the opening and closing of the city gates, but also at the beginning and end of working hours. This official nightly curfew obliged the inhabitants to go out with a torch in the dark, as walking in the dark was forbidden for safety reasons. In case of imminent danger, such as fire or invasion, tocsin bells were exceptionally rung in the air, as well as festive bells, for example during the procession of the Holy Blood. From 1523 a drum activated by a clock automated some bells. At that time, secular and religious music could be played, which is played on Sundays, holidays and market days.
The treasure room. On the second floor the museum is located in the old treasury, where the seals and charters of the medieval town were stored until the 18th century. Today, it is dedicated to the history of the belfry: on its construction and its function in the Middle Ages, take your time.
The carillon. Take another step up the whirling spiral staircase and you're there. Try to time yourself to watch the spectacle of the mechanisms clicking into place on the right floor just before the bells chime, the experience is quite exciting and interesting. You will certainly hear them, as they chime every quarter hour. In 1675, the carillon consisted of 35 bells made by the Antwerp-born Melchior de Haze. Called "Duméry", it actually bears the name of the founder who replaced them after the fire in 1741 with 47 bells weighing 27.5 tons in total. You can imagine the passion of the founders passing on the medieval heritage and patiently tuning their little jewels of craftsmanship with their sharp ears. It is the most famous in Europe because of its massive bell "Victory" which weighs no less than 8,814 kg. Placed in 1802, it requires 8 men to set it in motion. Concerts of carillons take place from the belfry, Monday, Wednesday, Saturday at 9 pm and 10 pm and Sunday at 2 pm and 3 pm from mid-June to mid-September and on Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday at 2 pm and 3 pm from mid-September to mid-June.
The Summit. On the5th floor, you will be rewarded for your efforts. Don't count the steps, 366 of them would cut off your arms and legs. Also avoid eating at the restaurant before the ascent. At the end of the race, we enjoy the landscape, out of breath by the vertiginous ascent but happy. By good weather, the view is breathtaking on the roofs of the city and on the medieval halls which testify of the wealth of this time.
Information on BEFFROI ET HALLE AUX DRAPS
From March to October, 7 days a week, 9am-8pm. From November to February, 9am-6pm (8pm on Saturday). Adult : 14 €. - 25 years old : 12 €. -6 years old : free.
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