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
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

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands