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Belfries of Belgium and France
Site number:
Type of site: Cultural
Date: 11-17th cent.
Date of Inscription: 1999, 2005
Location: Europe, Belgium and France
NHK World Heritage 100 series  
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Description: The twenty-three belfries in the north of France and thirty-two in Belgium, built between the 11th and 17th centuries, showcase Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles of architecture. A belfry was initially erected as a sign of communal independence (obtained by charter) and as the symbol of freedom. Whilst the keep symbolized the seigneurs (feudal lords) and the bell-tower symbolized the Church, the belfry, which in the urban landscape was the third tower, symbolized the aldermen’s power. Through the centuries its symbolic representation has come to signify the influence and wealth of the towns. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available. For 360 degree imaging of this site, click here.
  An unequalled ensemble of fifty-six Belfries of Belgium and France is designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, in recognition of an architectural manifestation of emerging civic independence in historic Flanders and neighbouring regions from feudal and religious influences, leading to a degree of local democracy of great significance in the history of humankind. UNESCO inscribed 32 towers onto its list of Belfries of Flanders and Wallonia in 1999. In 2005, the belfry of Gembloux in the Walloon Region of Belgium and 23 belfries from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie régions in the northern tip of France were appended to the renamed list. A notable omission is the Brussels City Hall belfry, as it was already part of the Grand Place World Heritage Site. Besides civic belfries, or buildings such as city halls that rather obviously may have rendered a similar service, the list includes religious buildings that also had served as watchtower or alarm bell tower: the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, the St. Rumbolds Tower in Mechelen, and the St. Leonard's Church in Zoutleeuw - all three in Flanders, Belgium. Few of the towers are freestanding. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. For 360 degree imaging of this site, click here.
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Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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