June 25, 2013

0697 FRANCE (Hauts-de-France) - Belfry of the St. Eligius Church of Dunkirk - part of Belfries of Belgium and France (UNESCO WHS)

Dunkirk - The Belfry of the St. Eligius Church

While Italian, German and English towns opted to build town halls, in north-western Europe greater emphasis was placed, in Middle Ages and in Early Modern Period, on building belfries. If the keep was the symbol of the seigneurs, and the bell-tower the symbol of the Church, the belfry symbolized the power of the aldermen, reaching to represent the influence and wealth of the towns. In Dunkirk, a commune in northern France, 10km from the Belgian border (known for the miraculous evacuation of Allied soldiers from its beaches and harbour in 1940), there are two such belfries, the Belfry of the City Hall and the Belfry of the St. Eligius Church. The last one (from the postcard) is a brick construction with 58m hight, decorated with Gothic styles arches, which goes back to 1450.

It originally was the bell tower of the St. Eligius church, then was detached from it in the 16th century after the church was rebuilt. The isolated tower became used by the city as a municipal belfry. At its base, there is a cenotaph dedicated to the memory of the soldiers of the WWI. Its carillon contains 48 bells of which the largest, nicknamed "Jean Bart", weighs no less than 7 tonnes. This belfry is one of the 56 belfries of Belgium and France, inscribed by UNESCO on the list of World Heritage Sites as Belfries of Belgium and France about which I wrote here.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the definitive series Marianne et l'Europe, about which I wrote here.

Belfries of Belgium and France - Wikipedia
Belfries of Belgium and France - UNESCO official website
The Belfry - Dunkirk Guide

Sender: Marius Vasilescu
Sent from Dunkirk (Nord-Pas-de-Calais / France), on 20.08.2013
Photo: Cristophe Potigny

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