The Belfry was, and still is, the symbol of Bruges's civic pride. Its magnificent 47-bell carillon peals out over the city every quarter hour, and several times a day in longer concerts during the summer. The tower itself stands 84m (272 ft.) high. Its lower section dates from around 1240, with the corner turrets added in the 14th century and the upper, octagonal section in the 15th century. If you have the stamina, climb the 366 steps to the Belfry's summit for a panoramic view of Bruges and the surrounding countryside all the way to the sea -- you can pause for breath at the second-floor Treasury, where the town seal and charters were kept behind multiple wrought-iron grilles.
From the 13th to the 16th centuries, much of the city's commerce was conducted in the Hallen. They have recently been brought back into use as an exhibition center operated by a consortium of local art dealers. Just outside the Hallen is a bronze replica of the Belfry and the Hallen, with descriptions in English, French, German, and Dutch, and in Braille.
- © Frommer's 2013
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