Top 5 Facts: Belfries

The large and ornate Belfort Tower in Bruges, Belgium.

1. Heritage – Due to their age and craftsmanship, many belfries are now protected structures. In 1999 32 Belgian belfries were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

2. Calling –
Belfries serve two main purposes: the first to call people to prayer and the second to announce the time. The latter is done on both religious and civic buildings.

3. Origin –
The first bell towers were designed as early warning systems against invasion. This lineage can be seen in the Dutch term ‘belfort’, which combines ‘bell’ and ‘stronghold’.

4. Lucky – The heaviest functioning bell in the world is called the Bell of Good Luck, and weighs in at 116 tons. It’s located in the Foquan Temple, Henan, China.

5. Carillon – Some larger bell towers are fitted with carillons, a musical instrument consisting of an array of variously sized bronze bells. The bells are played via the striking of an attached keyboard.