June 7, 2015

1636 FRANCE (Hauts-de-France) / BELGIUM - Belfries of Belgium and France (UNESCO WHS)


The Belfries of Belgium and France are a group of 56 historical buildings designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, in recognition of an architectural manifestation of emerging civic independence from feudal and religious influences in historic Flanders and neighboring regions of the Duchy of Burgundy. UNESCO inscribed 32 towers onto its list of Belfries of Flanders and Wallonia in 1999, and in 2005, the belfry of Gembloux in the Walloon Region of Belgium and 23 belfries from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy regions 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.

Not all of this group are civic/municipal monuments, being included three church towers, because these had served as watchtowers or alarm bell towers (the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, the St. Rumbolds Tower in Mechelen, and the St. Leonard's Church in Zoutleeuw). Most of these belforts are towers projecting from broader buildings. Few of them are notable as standalone tower structures, of which, a handful are remodeled standalone towers formerly connected to adjacent buildings. Beyond their architectural structure, the belfries present a wide typology linked both to the history of the communities, the period of construction, the materials used and the personality of their master builders.

Built between the 11th and 17th centuries, they showcase the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles of architecture. They are highly significant tokens of the winning of civil liberties. While Italian, German and English towns mainly opted to build town halls, in part of north-western Europe, greater emphasis was placed on building belfries. Compared with the keep (symbol of the seigneurs) and the bell-tower (symbol of the Church), the belfry, the third tower in the urban landscape, symbolizes the power of the aldermen. High towers built in the heart of urban areas, often dominating the principal square, the belfries are essential elements in the organization and representation of the towns to which they belong.


● Flanders

Antwerp - Cathedral of Our Lady
• Antwerp - City Hall
• Herentals - Former City & 'Laken'(Cloth) Hall
• Lier - City Hall and Belfry tower
• Mechelen - St. Rumbolds Tower of the cathedral
• Mechelen - Old Cloth Hall with Belfry

West Flanders
• Diksmuide - City Hall and Belfry
• Kortrijk - Hallentoren Belfry
• Lo-Reninge (Lo) - Town Hall with Belfry
• Menen - City Hall and adjacent Belfry
• Nieuwpoort - Stadshalle grain hall (market hall) with Belfry
• Roeselare - City Hall, Stadshalle (market hall) and Belfry
• Tielt - Hallentoren belfry, Cloth Hall and Aldermen's Chamber
• Veurne - Landhuis and Belfry
• Ypres - Cloth Hall with Belfry

East Flanders
• Aalst - Aldermen's House with Belfry
• Dendermonde - City Hall with Belfry
• Eeklo - City Hall with Belfry
• Ghent - Belfry, Cloth Hall and Mammelokker
• Oudenaarde - City Hall with Belfry

Flemish Brabant
• Leuven - St. Peter's Church and tower
• Tienen - St. Germanus Church with Stadstoren (City Tower)
• Zoutleeuw - St. Leonard's Church

• Sint-Truiden - City Hall with Tower
• Tongeren - Basilica of Our Lady with Stadstoren (City Tower)

● Wallonia

• Binche - Belfry of the City Hall
• Charleroi - Belfry of the City Hall
• Mons - Belfry
• Thuin - Belfry
• Tournai - Belfry

• Gembloux - Belfry
• Namur - Belfry


● Nord-Pas de Calais

• Armentières - Belfry of the City Hall
• Bailleul - Belfry of the City Hall
• Bergues - Belfry          
• Cambrai - Belfry of the St. Martin's Church
• Comines - Belfry of the City Hall
• Douai - Belfry of the City Hall
• Dunkirk - Belfry of the City Hall
Dunkirk - Belfry of Dunkirk
• Gravelines - Belfry
• Lille - Belfry of the City Hall
• Loos - Belfry of the City Hall

• Aire-sur-la-Lys - Belfry of the City Hall
• Arras - Belfry of the City Hall
• Béthune - Belfry
• Boulogne-sur-Mer - Belfry of the City Hall
• Calais - Belfry of the City Hall
• Hesdin - Belfry of the City Hall

● Picardy

• Abbeville - Belfry
• Amiens - Belfry
• Doullens - Belfry of the former Municipal Hall, at present the tourist information center
• Lucheux - Belfry on the remaining City Gate
• Rue - Belfry
• Saint-Riquier - Belfry

Belfries of Belgium and France - Wikipedia
Belfries of Belgium and France - UNESCO official website

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the definitive series depicting Marianne, issued on  July 16, 2014, about which I wrote here.

Sender: Arnaud Woollard
Sent from Aix-Noulette (Nord-Pas-de-Calais / France), on 19.09.2014
Illustrations: Jacques-Yves Delobelle 


  1. I have the belfry of Charleroi, if you are interested?

    1. Yes, I'm interested. You can also find me on facebook.