Monday, July 22, 2013

Belfort, Ghent

One of the easiest landmarks to spot in Ghent is the Belfort, a bell tower in the heart of the city. It was built from 1313 to 1380 and rises almost 300 feet over the town. It has served as a clock tower, a watch tower, and an alarm.

Belfort, Ghent

The tower is right next to the Lakenhalle, or Cloth Hall, where cloth merchants did their trade in the middle ages. It was completed in 1445 and has served as militia guild and a fencing school.

Lakenhall with belfort

We went up a small staircase into the bell tower. The first room was a cozy yet large meeting hall with a grand fireplace.

Meeting hall

Amazing but disused fireplace

Through a small door we found the base of the tower, which was home to several statues that were either being refurbished or were spares.

You can't sneak up on this quartet

Up a flight of stairs was a historical display featuring one of the dragons that had decorated the top of the tower.

Copper dragon, now retired

Lion in the corner

J and L find their niche

We took an elevator up to the observation floor. The first thing we observed was the large machine that rang the bells every fifteen minutes. After seeing it in action, we took the small staircase to see the bells.

Bell player

54-bell carillon

Then we discovered the door that leads outside to the small walkway around the parapet. The views of the city were quite impressive.

Ghent from above

St. Niklaaskerk (St. Nicholas Church)

Stadhuis (State house)

St. Baafskathedraal (St. Bavo's Cathedral)

Cathedral courtyard

We were surprised to see a familiar figure in the courtyard. Mommy had been touring more of the cathedral while we went up the tower. We spotted her waving to us from below. We even shouted to each other, which was probably more embarrassing for Mommy since several passers-by gave her strange looks. We had no passers-by up on the tower.

Zoom to waving figure of Mommy

L consented to a picture up high as long as I would lift her up to see Mommy.

L ready to see Mommy

We enjoyed our visit to the tower and the wonderful views it provided.

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