Bruges: The Belfort

One of our goals for our day in Bruges was to climb the 366 steps to the top of the Belfort (belfry, bell tower) to see the city views.

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Bell towers were common structures in wealthy Medieval Flemish towns.  It was a way to put the prosperity of the city on public display.  And they were used as municipal buildings, in this case as a place to store archives and the city treasury.  It dates back to the 13th century, with many changes to the spire over the centuries.

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The entrance from the courtyard.

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No smoking, no ice cream, no drinks, no dogs, and no love?

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The perilous staircase.  Yes, there is only one for 2-directional traffic.  It got really hairy in several spots on the way up.  I was kneeling down under eaves in order to let people by at one point.  We got very cozy…

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The first level….not very far up.

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A Medieval vault where the city riches were guarded.  Incredible wrought iron.

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Really cool timbers.

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The view down into the courtyard from the treasury level.

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And into the Grote Markt

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The BIG bell….a little farther up.

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Scary and small wooden staircase!

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The drum room, yet higher up the stairs.  This is where the giant metal drum (a bit like a giant music box player) is located.  We could see the workings from behind glass.  Amazing!

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And finally, the top level, where the carillon bells are, and where we had magnificent views of the city!

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This photo is for you, Amy Van Mechelen:

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Canals

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Squares

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After a lot of photo-snapping and gawking over the edge of the windowsills, we headed back down the very narrow, claustrophobia-inspring staircase…

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To the courtyard below.

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Our legs felt a little wobbly after all those steps, but it was definitely worth the exertion!

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