Belfry of Ghent, the Tallest Belfry in Belgium

When I plan the itinerary of my travels, the priority for UNESCO World Heritage sites always figure high. So, for Belgium tour I had Ghent in the list of must see. Ghent figures in the UNESCO’s World Heritage list for its belfry and its associated buildings. This is one of the three medieval towers of Ghent and is reputed to be the tallest in Belgium. You can never miss this as it is visible from anywhere you stand in Ghent.

Functions of Belfry of Ghent

The bell tower announced time, various warnings and served as the town treasury. You can enter the belfry and climb to top, unfortunately lack of time I had to skip this. The old bells and dragon weather vane are on display here. They even show you how it all works.

Watch Tower – Initially tower of St. Nicholas church was the first watch tower in Ghent and played the role till 1442. After that the watchmen moved to this belfry and stayed on till 1869. Outbreak of fire was the biggest fear in those days.

Keeping municipal Privileges – The dragon on top of belfry was believed to keep an eye on the city – symbolic guardian of the privileges.

Chime Bells – They were used both for religious purpose and also for regulating daily life. As more announcements had to be made, they introduced carillons. The carillon gradually expanded to 53 bells after the restoration in 1982. In 1993 a last bell, Robert, completed the carillon.

Cloth Hall at Belfry of Ghent

The rectangular hall attached to the belfry was the headquarters for cloth trade then. The city flourished, as cloth trading was a successful business then and it made the city rich. It was the venue for inspection, measurements and finally the transactions.

Belfry of Ghent Belgium

The gilded dragon at the top of the tower was brought from Bruges during the tower’s final stages of construction in 1380. The alarm bell Roland was installed in the Belfry in 1325. It was also used as the hourly bell from 1378. The hourly chime was preceded by warning signals on three smaller bells with various tones.

Clock on Belfry of Ghent

Statue of Mammelokker in Ghent

As you walk toward the Belfry, look up to see the unique statue of Mammelokker. A statue of a daughter suckling her father to save his life! This annex was the entrance and guard’s quarters of the city jail that occupied part of the old cloth hall from 1742 to 1902. The sculpture is poised high above the front doorway.
It depicts the Roman legend regarding a prisoner called Cimon. Cimon was sentenced to death by starvation, but survived and ultimately gained his freedom thanks to his daughter Pero, a wet nurse who secretly breastfed him during her visits. Her act of selflessness impressed officials and won her father’s release. The term ‘mammelokker’ translates as ‘breast sucker’.
Mammelokker of Belfry of Ghent
Belfry of Ghent Belgium
Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium
Ghent, Belgium

34 Responses to “Belfry of Ghent, the Tallest Belfry in Belgium

  • quite an impressive spire…

  • Wonderful lacy architecture!

  • Wonderful shots of the belfry.

  • Magnificent building and the belfry is awesome! I love the golden dragon! Thanks as always, Indrani, for the history!! It makes your captures even more wonderful!

  • Thank you for showing us

    Aloha from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral

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  • History sleeps here!

  • Such amazing architecture.

  • beautiful photo,s from great architecture.
    greetings from ann

  • I'm a big fan of Unesco heritage sites too. The intricate details in the buildings make up for the gray skies!

  • Wow. Amazing,impressive and inspiring architecture !

  • Without reading the narration one would be tempted to consider the building as the Church. Quite imposing belfry. Thanks for sharing.

  • Yes, very nice photos, great frames.

  • Great series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  • Such beautiful architecture.

  • The beautiful architecture you visit always thrills me. You travel to some wonderful lands, Indrani. I'm so glad you share.

  • Wonderful architecture.

  • I am trying to imagine what it must have been like to create that. To work with the images that led to that building.

  • What a magnificent piece of architecture this belfry is. I didn't know that it was not attached to a church. Thanks for this information. Have a great weekend!

  • Wow that’s a really impressive belfry. I love this details that go into things like this. I’m hoping to visit Brussels soon and I think a trip to Ghent will be in the works now as well.

  • Yes, always worth checknig out any UNESCO world heritage sites wherever you are visiting. Lovely photos.

  • Ghent is just one of the amazing towns in this area that look like something straight out of a fairytale. I didn’t realise the spire was the tallest but it’s certainly big.

  • Thats a great post and some wonderful photos too! I love visiting heritage sites, they have a certain charm to them.

  • We didn’t have time to climb the tower when we were in Ghent. I wish we had as the best views are always from up above. It’s definitely a beautiful city though and well worth a visit.

  • Fascinating spot. I too love UNESCO heritage sites and have very often gone a bit out of my way to see them on my travels.

  • Vicki Louise
    11 months ago

    I had no idea the Belfry was a UNESCO Heritage Site. It’s so impressive – the architecture is incredible and the view from the top must be magical!

  • I knew about the use of Belfries but I was impressed about Cimon’s story. I would like to visit Ghent, a shame I have not done it yet, living so close to Belgium

  • I had read about this earlier somewhere and was fascinated! Great to know about Belfry as a first-hand experience.

  • Nice information. I like such informative articles about history and monumental structures.

  • Belgium sounds like such an interesting place. I want to visit, and I’m thinking I will add to my 2019 bucket list!

  • Baia Dzagnidze
    1 month ago

    Never been to Belgium yet, but looks like a fun place to explore

  • Wow I’m in absolute love with the details of the architecture in your images. These buildings are truly works of art and I hope one day to witness them in person.

  • We went past Ghent 2 times while on the way to Amsterdam from Paris. Didn’t know that Ghent has such interesting places. Thank you for sharing!

  • The architecture of the Cloth hall and the tower is amazing!! 🙂 Love your passion for Unesco sites. There is just so much to see and learn from such heritage destinations:) The story of the Statue of Mammelokker is shocking! Love the details captured by you!

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