The Belfry of Bruges – Exploring the Iconic Tower

Belfry of Bruges from Grote Markt

Nestled in the heart of the beautiful medieval city of Bruges, the Belfry Tower stands as a testament to the city’s rich past and architectural prowess. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this iconic bell tower continues to captivate visitors with its fascinating history, stunning views, and enchanting carillon music. Are you ready to uncover the secrets of the Belfry of Bruges?

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the tower’s storied past, including fires and restorations, and its significance as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll provide practical information for visiting the Belfry, discuss the highlights inside the tower, and suggest alternative ways to experience this striking tower. So, let’s begin our journey into the heart of Bruges and explore the Belfry!

Short Summary

  • Explore the iconic Belfry of Bruges, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and symbol of strength.

  • Climb 366 steps to get stunning views or take alternative tours for unique experiences.

  • Discover its rich past with fires, rebuilds & prominent role in popular culture!

The Belfry Tower’s Rich Past

Historic image of the Bruges Belfry at the Grote Markt
Historic image of the Bruges Belfry at the Grote Markt

In the Middle Ages, the Belfry Tower was a symbol of Bruges’ wealth and success. This medieval bell tower has a remarkable three-layer structure, with the bottom two layers made of brick from the 13th century and the top layer of Brabant Limestone, built between 1482 and 1486. As one of the oldest examples of medieval urban architecture, the Bruges Belfry Tower represents a prominent symbol of the city’s rich history and remains a popular attraction for visitors today.

The Belfry Tower’s rich past is marked by multiple fires and storms that caused damage to the tower and the adjacent halls. However, this resilient structure has been rebuilt and restored several times, proudly standing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Let’s dive deeper into the tower’s history by exploring the fires and restorations that shaped its present form.

Fires and Restorations

Throughout its history, the Belfry of Bruges has fallen victim to fires on two occasions. The original wooden spire went up in flames, destroying the archives inside. The wooden spire was replaced in 1487, only to be struck by lightning in 1493, leading to another devastating fire. Despite these challenges, the tower was resiliently restored, and in 1822, an openwork stone parapet in Gothic Revival style was added to the rooftop. This Neo-Gothic tower crown stands today, reinforcing the Belfry’s unique architectural heritage.

These restorations have helped preserve the Belfry for generations to come. Today, the tower stands as a testament to Bruges’ ability to overcome adversity and showcases the city’s architectural prowess throughout the centuries. The Belfry’s storied past only adds to its allure and intrigue for visitors from around the world.

Bruges Belfry Tower from the canals
Bruges Belfry Tower from the canals

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the Belfry of Bruges is a key component of the historic center of this beautiful medieval city. The tower regulated the daily lives of the city dwellers, with its bells keeping them on track, warning of fires, setting work hours, and announcing social, political, and religious events. The addition of the carillon in the 16th century added a musical instrument to the tower, with a carillonneur hired in 1604 to play songs on Sundays, holidays, and market days.

The Belfry’s UNESCO World Heritage status highlights its importance as a symbol of Bruges and its rich history. Its bells and carillon continue to enchant visitors, while its storied past adds depth and intrigue to this iconic tower. As part of the old town of Bruges, the Belfry stands proud among the city’s most striking architectural wonders.

Getting to the Belfry

The Belfry of Bruges located in the Market Square of Bruges (Brugge), Belguim.
The Belfry of Bruges located in the Market Square of Bruges (Brugge), Belguim.

Reaching the Belfry of Bruges is a breeze, whether you prefer walking or taking public transportation. The tower is located just 1.5 kilometers from Brugge station, making it an easy and enjoyable walk through the charming streets of the city.

Alternatively, you can hop on bus #4 or #14, which will take you directly to Brugge Markt and Belfort, the heart of the city, and the Belfry’s doorstep. No matter how you choose to get there, the Belfry awaits your arrival!

Visiting the Belfry: Practical Information

Before setting foot inside the Belfry, it’s essential to know some practical information. Here are the main details summarized for you in a quick overview:

AddressMarkt 7, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Opening TimesDaily, 9 am to 8 pm
Entry FeeAdult: 15€
Concession (7-17 years): 13€
Children (under 7): Free
DiscountsMusea Brugge Card, Resident of Bruges, museumPASSmusées, ICOM, ICOM Flanders
Disability, Teachers
AccessibilityDue to the staircase it is not accessible

The entrance fee varies depending on your age and whether you have a Musea Brugge Card, which offers access to several museums in the city for 72 hours for 33 euros. To avoid overcrowding, it’s necessary to book a time slot online in advance, as only 70 people are allowed in the tower at once.

Keep in mind that climbing the narrow staircases is a crucial part of the Belfry experience, as detailed below.

The Climb: Steps and Staircases

Belfry staircase (Image courtesy of Dimitris Kamaras)

Ascending the Belfry Tower may seem like a daunting task, but it’s an essential part of the experience. With 366 steps to conquer, the climb is both exhilarating and challenging. The stairs get tighter as you climb, making it more difficult for those with claustrophobia. However, the sense of accomplishment upon reaching the top is well worth the effort.

As you ascend, ropes are available to help you navigate the narrow stairs and provide support during the steepest sections. Although the climb may be challenging, it’s a unique and rewarding experience that offers an intimate connection with the Belfry’s history and architecture.

Visiting the Belfry with Children

If you’re planning to visit the Belfry with children, it’s important to consider the challenges of the steep climb. Yes, children up to 5 years old can enter for free, they’ll need to be able to climb the 366 steps up and down. It’s honestly up to you to assess your child’s fitness level and ability to handle the ascent.

Once you are there, the Belfry offers interactive exhibits that can entertain children of all ages, making the visit educational and fun. As someone who takes my godchildren out quite often, I know what a great combination that is!

Taking the time to read the signs and provide additional context for your children can help them better appreciate the tower’s history and significance. The Belfry can be a memorable and enriching experience for the whole family, as well as a bit of fun too.

Inside the Tower: Rooms and Highlights

Once inside the Belfry, visitors can explore four unique rooms, each offering its own historical insights and highlights. In addition to the captivating carillon and bells, the tower provides a stunning 360-degree view of the city from the top.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the rooms and their intriguing features.

The Carillon and Bells

Belfry of Bruges Carillon drum
Belfry of Bruges Carillon drum (Image via Wikimedia)

The carillon and bells of the Belfry of Bruges hold a special place in the tower’s history. Today, the Belfry houses 47 bells, with the largest bell, the Great Bell, weighing a staggering 6 tons and boasting a diameter of over 2 meters. The carillon’s history dates back to the 16th century, and its music can still be heard every 15 minutes, played by the appointed carillonneur.

As you explore the tower, take some time to appreciate the role of the carillon and bells in Bruges’ rich history. The enchanting melodies and impressive craftsmanship of the bells provide a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past, making the carillon an essential part of the Belfry experience.

Enjoying the View from the Top

After conquering the 366 steps, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking 360-degree view of Bruges and its surroundings from the top of the Belfry. The stunning panorama offers a unique perspective on the medieval cityscape and the architectural wonders that make Bruges so captivating. Take a moment to soak in the view, as you stand atop one of the city’s most striking towers.

Although the climb may be challenging, the view from the top is undeniably worth the effort. From the bustling Market Square below to the historic buildings that dot the cityscape, the Belfry’s vantage point provides a memorable and awe-inspiring experience for all who venture to the top.

Discovering the Former Market Hall

Adjacent to the Belfry stands the former market hall, known as Halletoren. This rectangular building, measuring 44 meters wide and 84 meters deep, once served as a bustling market hall until 1876. With an inner courtyard, the former market hall offers another fascinating glimpse into Bruges’ rich history and architectural heritage.

As you explore the Belfry and its surroundings, take the time to appreciate the former market hall and its connection to the city’s past.

night in the Grote Markt in Bruges
Night in the Grote Markt in Bruges

Guided Tours of the Belfry

While climbing the Belfry is an unforgettable experience, there are alternative ways to appreciate this iconic tower. Guided tours, canal cruises, and bike rentals offer unique perspectives on the Belfry and its surroundings.

Additionally, you can admire the tower’s architecture from Market Square or explore the inner courtyard for another enchanting viewpoint. Whichever way you choose to experience the Belfry, its captivating history and stunning architecture are sure to leave a lasting impression.

The Belfry in Popular Culture

The Belfry of Bruges has also made its mark on popular culture, most notably in the 2008 film “In Bruges.” This dark comedy follows two hitmen hiding out in Bruges, Belgium, with the Belfry playing a prominent role in the film’s backdrop. The movie’s portrayal of the tower further emphasizes its significance and allure, showcasing its charm and beauty to audiences worldwide.

The Belfry of Bruges is a symbol of the city’s rich history and culture, and its presence in the film has only served to further its reputation as a must-see destination. Its iconic silhouette is a reminder of its iconic silhouette.


The Belfry of Bruges stands as a proud testament to the city’s rich history and architectural prowess. From its storied past marked by fires and restorations to its current status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Belfry remains an iconic symbol of Bruges. Whether you’re climbing the challenging staircases, listening to the enchanting carillon music, or admiring the stunning views from the top, the Belfry offers an unforgettable experience for all who visit.

As you set off to explore the beautiful medieval city of Bruges, ensure that the Belfry is at the top of your must-see list. Delve into its captivating history, marvel at its architectural beauty, and create lifelong memories as you uncover the secrets of the Belfry of Bruges.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Belfry of Bruges famous?

The Belfry of Bruges is famous for its beautiful architecture, stunning views and rich history. Its 83m tall tower dates back to the 13th century and is protected as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Climbing all 366 steps of this iconic building rewards visitors with magnificent views of the city and its surroundings.

How hard is it to climb the Belfry Bruges?

Climbing the Belfry Tower Bruges is certainly not a walk in the park. It has 366 steps, two long sections of 108 and 113 steps without any rest stops. So, you certainly need to be in good health and being fit also helps, of course. There are several rooms to catch your breath, so just take it one step at a time and take some extra time to rest between sections.

Is the Belfry in Bruges leaning?

Surprisingly, the Belfry of Bruges is indeed leaning! Despite standing firm for more than eight centuries, its structure is ever so slightly slanted, with an inclination of around one metre without suffering any structural damage.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top