You don’t need to wear a watch when you’re in Bruges – every quarter hour the bells of the carillon in the Belfry ring out over the city, signalling the passage of time as they have done for centuries.
The Belfry is a medieval bell tower, first built in 1240. At 83 metres it dominates the skyline of the Markt. Climb 366 narrow, winding steps to the panorama viewing platform and you will be rewarded with expansive views of the city and the lush countryside surrounding it.
The Belfry houses the carillon, a set of 47 bells dating from 1741. The bells of the carillon are usually played by a clockwork mechanism and an enormous cylindrical drum just like the ones in children’s music boxes. For weekly concerts and special occasions however, the carillonneur plays a keyboard with both fists and feet, although the music he creates sounds so light and delicate.
It’s the bells that many tourists come to hear and a twilight performance on a chilly autumnal evening is a magical experience.
PS Note to self – don’t turn the camera when recording!
There are so many places to see in and around the Markt in Bruges and the medieval architecture of the ancient buildings is simply beautiful. Take a walk just a couple of blocks away from the city centre and there are more stunning details in the simplest of structures. I found myself drawn to doors – some brightly painted, others ornamented or elegantly carved, and all individual.
The Markt in the centre of Bruges is surrounded by lavishly ornamented Gothic buildings including the Belfry, the City Hall and the Provincial Palace and usually it’s overflowing with tourists.
They come to admire the architecture, absorb the history and enjoy a waffle or a serve of friets from one of the many cafes or vans. On Wednesdays though, the tourists have to compete for space with the vendors who come to sell their fresh food and flowers – it’s market day!
Fruit and vegetables from around the world are sold at the grocers’ stalls while local cheeses and meat, spicy sausages, fresh bread and smoked fish are available too.
The variety of beautiful flowers is amazing and so is the price – so little for such glorious abundance!
In September it’s impossible to leave before buying some enormous strawberries and sweet jewelled raspberries – waffles and friets are not on the lunch menu today!