Beguinage & Belfry of Brugge (Flanders - Belgium)

Brugge aka Bruges (actually pronounced Bruhha in local language Flemish), boasts 3 UNESCO world heritage sites - Belfry, Beguinage and Historic Centre.

The first ever Beguinage that I saw was of Leuven, followed by Ghent. These 3 along with 10 other Flemish Beguinages have been listed as UNESCO world heritage sites in 1998 CE. Read more about who Beguines are what the specialty of the Beguinages in my Leuven Beguinage post. The entrance is across a picturesque bridge and with swans swimming beneath its just spectacular. 

The one is Brugge is called 'Ten Wijngaerde'. This was built in 1245 CE is perhaps the smallest that I've seen with hardly 2 streets and perhaps the 'strictest' as well! Mostly the Beguinages have a very laid back, peaceful feel, mostly occupied by various students and other general public. However here, there were several boards within that small space requesting silence and to keep off grass! But may be that's because, this city is much more touristy that the other places and may be they had some unruly tourists in past which prompted them to put up 10 boards in just 2 streets!!! 


As every Beguinage, this too has a church in it called St.Elizabeth Church. There's also a inhouse museum & shop as well. Walking in these streets, I saw the window of one particular house which has gorgeous Belgian laces hung as decor!!! Against the old, rustic brick walls, this delicate, pristine laces were just not miss-able!!!!!

The first ever Belfry that I saw was of Tournai, followed by Ghent. These 3 along with 53 other belfries in Belgium & France have been brought under the wings of UNESCO in 1999 & 2000 CE. To begin with, this is perhaps the narrowest spiral staircase that I've ever climbed on, take that from someone who has climbed quite a few church towers! That too, this time, my guy had to climb it wearing our little Atyudarini... That was one feat, achieved! 
This Belfry is 83m tall and was built in 2 phases. It has 3 sections (lower 2 squares built in 13th C using bricks and 1 octagonal atop those built in 15th C with Brabant Limestone). The entry is in the 1st floor which is the same floor as the treasury. The double heavy iron doors, definitely reminded me of the safes in the banks back home! These were made in 1290 CE and had 10 locks on them when they were functional. The keys were with 10 different guild heads & mayor.


There are a couple of stops available in between where various bells are kept in display. After quite a bit of walk (there are stickers once in a while that mention the number of stair crossed and number remaining!), we reached the drums room where the Great Bell is present. Another climb after this is where the carillon is and a very short stretch after this is where I got to see the spectacular panoramic view after scaling 366 steps.
The Belfry has had 10 different Great Bells so far from 1280 to 1745. The last one cracked in 1745 and it was replaced by the existing bell of Church of Our Lady, which was cast by Melchior de Haze in 1680. In 1809 it had a new bell frame, thanks to the then mayor, and its also been engraved on it.

The Carillon has 47 bells today of which 26 were made in 1742-46 and the rest in 2010. The very last part of the climb, esp from the carillon to the top is very very narrow that was voluptuous person may not even be able to scale it! However, the view from atop is totally worth the looooooong climb! The major church towers are beautiful in the city scape. What's unusual in this particular Brugge cityscape are their windmills. Its not often that you get to see several windmills, both modern and old ones, in the same frame. It has quite a bit to say about the city's commitment to renewable energy and eco-friendlyness and more!!! Its a wee-bit difficult to spot the manual windmills, but once you spot one, you can spot the rest easily too! The city has 4 of the old mills still intact, more about which is coming up soon. Stay tuned!
Btw, its said that this Belfry would be soon a Pisa Tower - leaning! Its said that its leaning about a metre to the west. Check out the very funny video by Visit Bruges about the Leaning Tower of Bruges! 

To Stay:
Hotels and B&Bs at all price points are available in Brugge City Centre.
Here’s my review of Hotel Prinsenhof where I stayed.

To Get There:
Local Transport within Bruges is possible with DeLijn buses (and horse carts!). However most sites are walkable. The city does not have metro or tram. 
On Google Maps: Belfry, Beguinage

Entry Ticket & Timings:
Belfry: €12.00; 9:30AM to 6:00PM
Included in the Musea Brugge Card.
Beguinage: Free to enter Beguinage & Church; Museum: € 2.00; 6:30AM to 6:30PM


P.S: I was invited by Musea Brugge to experience the city and hosted by Hotel Prinsenhof for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

13 comments:

  1. This is a really interesting post, especially as I've never heard of these sites before. The Belfry is gorgeous, and that view must have been incredible from the top. Will make a note to visit these places the next time I'm back in Belgium.

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  2. I would love to photograph the architectural details of the buildings and the stained glass, stunning. I would definitely visit the belfry and those bells!

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  3. I do think Belgium is very under rated - and Bruge is so lovely! I love the amazing detail of the brickwork - so beautiful!

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  4. You took me back to my visit to Bruges. It is a gorgeous place. It was the first time I was seeing a Beguinage. However, I didn't climb to the top of the Belfry in Bruges. Your daughter must have loved seeing the horses and the swans.

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  5. Wow! What a lovely experience! I love exploring historical places and I must say these three UNESCO World Heritage Sites are quite fascinating. I love the architecture of St.Elizabeth Church and those Belgian laces on the window look absolutely amazing! The view from the top is to die for - definitely worth the long and tedious climb.

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  6. I think Bruges is such an amazing city. I went to the Beguinage when I was there, but I didn't get to see the church. I did go up the belfry though. As you say, it's quite a climb, but the view is amazing!

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  7. Loving the architecture and the history! I'm dying to visit Bruges and really Belgium in general. Looks like such an incredible trip!

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  8. Bruges looks amazing, I love the architecture and that view from the top of the Belfry, it kind of reminds me of the view from the top of the Cathedral of Cologne. I also didn't know there were so many UNESCO WHS there!

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  9. I always looking forward to visit Unesco sites because these sites are truly special with it's own way. I have been to Belgium but too bad didnt have a chance to visit Tournai. What a stunning landmark with that giant Cathedral. I would love to climb up to the Belfry of Bruges and see how the old bells work.

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  10. Wow, this is such a great place to visit. I love that you included all the history behind that beautiful place. I always love historical sites and hopefully I can traipse my two little itchy feet in Tournai and I climb to the Belfry of Burges. I've never been to Belgium and will surely keep this in mind.

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  11. Yay, this made me miss Bruges. It's one of my favorite little towns in Europe. Would love to go back and go through all the UNESCO sites again. :-)

    Liz Gen | fatmoments.com

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  12. It is really cool that you are collecting World Heritage sites. I'm doing something similar with world heritage sites in India and am planning a series on those after Northeast Chronicles. The Belfries and Beguinage looks impressive in the photos.

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  13. Your photos and lovely write up have me itching to rush there and take photos too. Lovely blog post.

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