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Belfries of Belgium and France

Belfries of Belgium and France

Twenty-three belfries in the north of France and the belfry of Gembloux in Belgium were inscribed as a group, an extension to the 32 Belgian belfries inscribed in 1999 as Belfries of Flanders and Wallonia. Built between the 11th and 17th centuries, they showcase the Roman, 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. Over the centuries, they came to represent the influence and wealth of the towns.

Beffrois de Belgique et de France

Vingt-trois beffrois, situés dans le nord de la France, et le beffroi de Gembloux, en Belgique, ont été inscrits en tant que groupe et comme une extension des 32 beffrois belges inscrits en 1999 sous le nom de Beffrois de Flandre et de Wallonie. Construits entre le XIe et le XVIIe siècle, ils illustrent les styles architecturaux roman, gothique, Renaissance et baroque. Ils constituent des symboles hautement significatifs de la conquête des libertés civiques. À une époque où la plupart des villes italiennes, allemandes et anglaises s’attachaient surtout à construire des hôtels de ville, dans une partie de l’Europe nord-occidentale, l’accent était mis sur l’édification de beffrois. Par opposition au donjon (symbole des seigneurs) et au clocher (symbole de l’Église), le beffroi, troisième tour du paysage urbain, représentait le pouvoir des échevins. Au fil des siècles, il est devenu le symbole de la puissance et de la prospérité des communes.

أبراج الكنائس في بلجيكا وفرنسا

أُدرج ثلاثة وعشرون برج كنيسة، في شمال فرنسا، وبرج كنيسة جمبلو، في بلجيكا، على قائمة التراث العالمي كمجموعة واحدة وكامتداد لأبراج الكنائس البلجيكية الإثنين والثلاثين المسجلّة عام 1999 تحت اسم ابراج الكنائس في فلندريا وفالونيا. شُيّدت هذه الأبراج بين القرن الحادي عشر والسابع عشر، وهي تعكس الأساليب الهندسية الرومانية والقوطية والباروكية وأساليب عصر النهضة. وتشكّل هذه الأبراج رموزاً معبّرة عن معركة الحريات المدنية. وفي وقت كانت غالبية المدن الإيطالية والألمانية والإنكليزية تتمسك ببناء دور البلدية، إنصبّ الإهتمام في قسم من شمال غرب أوروبا على تشييد أبراج الكنائس. وخلافاً للبرج الرئيس في حصن معيّن (رمز الأسياد الإقطاعيين) وقبّة الجرس (رمز الكنيسة)، فإنّ برج الكنيسة، وهو البرج الثالث البارز في المنظر الحضري، كان يمثل سلطة قضاة البلدية، ثم ما لبث أن أصبح، على مرّ القرون، رمزاً لنفوذ البلديات وازدهارها.

source: UNESCO/ERI

比利时和法国钟楼

这些钟楼建于11至17世纪,其中23座位于法国北部,32座位于比利时,它们共同展现了罗马、哥特式、文艺复兴和巴洛克式的建筑风格。钟楼在建立之初是公社通过宪章获得独立的标志,象征着自由。钟楼是城市景观中的第三种塔,可与要塞(封建领主,即封建地主的标志)和钟塔(教堂的标志)媲美,象征着贵族的权力。几个世纪以来,它们已逐渐成为城镇影响力和财富的象征。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Колокольни городов Бельгии и Франции

23 колокольни на севере Франции и колокольня в городе Жамблу в Бельгии дополняют 30 бельгийских городских башен, внесенных в Список всемирного наследия в 1999 г. как объект «Колокольни Фландрии и Валлонии». Колокольни были построены в ХI-ХVII вв. и относятся по своей архитектуре к романскому и готическому стилям, Возрождению и барокко. Это - яркие символы зарождавшихся гражданских свобод. В то время как в итальянских, германских и английских городах обычно предпочитали строить ратуши, в некоторых странах северо-западной Европы (Франция, Бельгия и Нидерланды) преобладали колокольни. Первоначально колокольни возводились в ознаменование независимости коммуны и получения ею хартии, как символ обретенной свободы. В отличие от замковой башни (символа синьора, т.е. – феодального властителя) и церковной колокольни (символа власти Церкви), городская колокольня – третья доминирующая в ландшафте города башня – символизировала влияние городских властей. В течение столетий такие башни олицетворяли мощь и богатство городов.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Campanarios municipales de Bélgica y Francia

Veintitrés campanarios situados en el norte de Francia y el campanario belga de Gembloux han sido inscritos conjuntamente en la Lista del Patrimonio Mundial, ampliando así el sitio formado por 32 campanarios municipales de Flandes y Valonia que ya figuraba en la Lista desde 1999. Construidos entre los siglos XI y XVII, estos campanarios son representativos de diversos estilos arquitectónicos –románico, gótico, renacentista y barroco– y constituyen símbolos muy significativos de la conquista de las libertades cívicas por parte de las poblaciones urbanas. En tiempos en que la mayoría de las ciudades italianas, alemanas e inglesas optaban por construir ayuntamientos, en esta región del noroeste de Europa se prefirió la construcción de campanarios municipales. Entre la tríada de torres que dominaban el paisaje de las ciudades, la del campanario municipal, emblema del poder de los concejales, se erguía frente a la del castillo señorial y la de la iglesia, símbolos respectivos del poder feudal y el eclesiástico. Con el correr de los siglos, llegó a simbolizar el poderío y la riqueza de cada municipio.

source: UNESCO/ERI

ベルギーとフランスの鐘楼群
登録の対象は、中世に起源をもつフランダース地方とワロン地方の24の鐘楼(アールスト、アントワープ、ブリュージュ、デンデルモンデ、ガン、ルーベン、イーペル、コルトレイクなど)である。現存する鐘楼の形態は多様であるが、その多くはタウン・ホールに、一部は協会に付属するもので、時を経てさらに都市の景観のなかに溶け込み続けてきた。後に、フランス北西部の23の鐘楼群とベルギーの鐘楼が追加され拡大登録。フランス、ベルギーオランダでは、市民憲章で自立・自由を象徴している鐘楼の建設を重視。鐘楼は市議会議員の権力を象徴している。

source: NFUAJ

Belforten van België en Frankrijk

De 23 belforten in het noorden van Frankrijk en het belfort van Gembloux in België werden gebouwd tussen de 11e en 17e eeuw en tonen Romaanse, Gotische, Renaissance en Barok architectuurstijlen. Deze inschrijving op de Werelderfgoedlijst is een uitbreiding van de 32 in 1999 ingeschreven belforten van Vlaanderen en Wallonië. Waar Italiaanse, Duitse en Engelse steden er voornamelijk voor kozen donjons, (symbool van de (land)heren) of klokkentorens (symbool van de kerk) te bouwen, werd in een deel van Noordwest-Europa gekozen voor belforten. Belforten symboliseren de macht van de schepenen en de invloed en rijkdom van steden door de eeuwen heen.

Source: unesco.nl

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Belfries of Belgium and France © Editions Gelbart
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

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. The site inscribed on the World Heritage List comprises 33 belfries located in Belgium (26 in Flanders and 7 in Wallonia) and 23 belfries located in northern France.

A symbolic element in the landscape in ancient Netherlands and the north of France, the belfry represents, in the heart of urban areas, the birth of municipal power in the Middle Ages. A practical building housing the communal bells, conserving charters and treasures, where city council meetings were held, serving as a watch tower and a prison, the belfry has, over the centuries, become the symbol of power and prosperity of the communes.

The belfries are, together with the market hall, significant representatives of civil and public architecture in Europe. The evolution from the “seigneurial keep” to the “communal keep” is noteworthy. The church belfries bear witness to the relationship, within the community, between civil and religious power. Closely associated with the expansion and government of European towns in the Middle Ages, the belfries, by the variety of their type and the evolution of their appearance, and the complexes with which they were often associated, represent an essential element in public architecture from the 11th century onwards.

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. In the urban configuration, they can be isolated, attached to a market place or to a town hall. In several cases, the civil function is exercised by the church belfry. The period of construction of the belfries extends from the 11th to the 20th century, presenting a wide diversity of style, from Roman art to Art Deco.

Bearing a strong identity, the belfries have suffered much damage from armed conflict but their regular rebuilding, occurring to this day, expresses their exceptional symbolic role and the communities’ attachment to them.

Criterion (ii):  The belfries of Belgium and France are exceptional examples of a form of urban architecture adapted to the political and spiritual requirements of their age.

Criterion (iv):  The Middle Ages saw the emergence of towns that were independent of the prevalent feudal system. The belfries of Belgium and France symbolize this new-found independence, and also the links within them between the secular and religious powers.

Integrity

The ensemble of belfries, a historical phenomenon unique to one region of Europe, presents a wide variety of examples throughout Flanders, Wallonia and northern France. Types, locations, period of construction, architectural styles and materials used for the belfries inscribed all bear witness to this serial property in its vast diversity.

Authenticity

The boundaries of the belfries are defined to fully include the constructions concerned. The associated elements (dungeons, bells and chimes, battlements, bretèches, etc.) demonstrating the function of the belfry or the communal authority are included in this definition. In addition, the property comprises fifty-six examples of belfries marking the communal movement of independence with its differences and its variants. As major and central elements of the medieval town, the belfries have conserved their importance and played a pivotal role in the development of the urban fabric right up to present times.

The belfry, a major element of the city, was also a weak point; a symbol and sometimes a watchtower, it was regularly destroyed during armed conflict. Furthermore, concerning the number of belfries inscribed (56), it is impossible to consider authenticity in material terms, referring only to their initial period of construction; one can instead consider the permanence of their existence and their symbolic value as authentic. The reconstructions following the world conflicts of the 20th century are therefore exemplary and constitute an element of authenticity of the series.

Protection and management requirements

The integrity of the French edifices making up the serial property falls under the protection of the Heritage Code. As Historical Monuments, they benefit from, amongst others, a protection of their visual field (500 metre radius), the control of which is ensured by the State. Moreover, several belfries are also located within safeguarded sectors or protection zones (ZPPAUP/AVAP).

Although a serial property, the belfries have a classic management system in which the actors work according to their administrative competences or specific regulations (mostly municipalities and State services). The owner communities, users of the edifices, have an important initiative and coordination role. A Committee for the property will be established during the review of the management plans and the enhancement of the elements that are part of the serial nomination.

The belfries in the Flanders region are all listed as monuments. In addition, in some cases, they are located in a listed urban townscape.

At present, the management of the Flanders belfries is the responsibility of the local authorities. In accordance with their protected status, any intervention on the belfries themselves must be approved by the regional heritage services.

The seven belfries located in Wallonia are listed as monuments and are recorded in the list of exceptional heritage of Wallonia (list established by the Wallon Government and recording the most outstanding heritage elements of Wallonia).

Following the decision of the Wallon Government on 25 August 2011 to provide the Wallon sites inscribed on the World Heritage List with a Management Plan, a Steering Committee, a Scientific Committee and a Management Committee were established. A concertation with the representatives of the French and Flanders belfries is foreseen in this framework.

In parallel with the network of belfry towns functioning in France, the Wallon, Flanders and French representatives of the property Belfries of Belgium and France are preparing the establishment of a transboundary network.

Long Description

Belfries are outstanding representatives of civic and public architecture in Europe. Through the variety of their 'functional' forms and the changes they have undergone they have been a vital aspect of civic architecture in Europe since the 13th century. They are unique constructions reflecting the development of civil authority that marked the history of Flanders (in its historical sense) from the Middle Ages onwards.

Referring originally to mobile wooden towers used in siege warfare, the term was later applied to the wooden watchtowers mounted on the palisades surrounding the portus or pre-urban centres. It was to be applied in particular to those housing bells or standing next to the bell tower. Palisades, bells and the right to possess bells are all closely associated with the development of urban life. The 31 belfries in Flanders and Wallonia and the 23 in north-eastern France, invariably found in an urban setting, are imposing bell towers of medieval origin, generally attached to the town hall and occasionally to a church. In addition to their outstanding artistic value, the belfries are potent symbols of the transition from feudalism to the mercantile urban society that played a vital role in the development of late medieval Europe. The belfries are both civic buildings and symbols, and highly significant tokens of the achievement of civil liberties acquired through the dissolution the abbeys that had remained sovereign since the high Middle Ages.

The early belfries of the 13th and early 14th centuries are strongly reminiscent of the seignieurial keep, from which they take their massive square form, elevations showing sparing use of openings, and rising storeys built on or designed for vaulting. The main shaft is topped by a wall walk and parapet running between bartizans: the central spire features a slate campanile roof and variations on a number of forms. The finials of the corner and central turrets are decorated with animals or symbolic characters protecting the commune. The 13th-century belfry of Ieper (Ypres) is a fine example of this type, although it forms part of the market hall complex later to include the town hall, construction of which continued down to the 17th century.

Most of the examples concerned cover the periods of the 14th-15th and 16th-17th centuries, thereby offering an illustration of the transition in style from Norman Gothic to later Gothic, which then mingles with Renaissance and Baroque forms. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the belfries abandoned the model of the keep in favour of finer, taller towers, such as those of Dendermonde, Lier and Aalst. The subsequent addition to the top of the shaft of a narrower, different shape to serve as the base for the campanile would give the desired monumental effect, and the roof itself would take on more bulbous, sometimes extended lines, as in the case of Veurne (17th century).

When the market halls and belfries grew too small to function as a meeting-place for the aldermen, a new type of building was required, the Hôtel de Ville (town hall), clearly designed in accordance with the administrative organization and, from the 15th and 16th centuries onwards, assuming an obvious representative role achieved by incorporating the symbolic belfry, as in the examples of Brussels and Oudenaarde.

Their construction often took place in several stages, but they have always been maintained in good overall order. Some, damaged by war, have been rebuilt, generally in identical form. All are listed as historic monuments, either in isolation or as part of an edifice, a square, or an urban site.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

The definition of the term "belfry" was somewhat vague at the outset. Referring originally to the mobile wooden towers used in siege warfare, the term is later applied by Viollet-le-Duc in the Dictionnaire raisonné de l'architecture française to the wooden watchtowers mounted on the palisades surrounding the portus or preurban centres. It was to be applied occasionally to towers of all sorts, but particularly to those housing bells or standing next to the bell-tower.

Palisades, bells, and the right to possess bells are all closely associated with the development of urban life which took place in these regions following the Viking raids of the 9th century. A favourable geographic situation at the heart of Europe, the re-establishment of major trade routes such as Bruges/Brugge-Cologne, and the improvement of navigable waterways at regional and national level made this region the ideal site for contact, trade, and the meeting of cultures. Travelling merchants re-appeared and perhaps began to organize and establish permanent warehouses near the castra of the feudal lords. These pre-urban groupings, which often grew up along river valleys, are the origin of towns like Tournai and Gent, along the Escaut. Locations where roads met navigable waterways were particularly propitious for the organization of markets, first temporary but later becoming permanent fairs, encouraging merchants to settle in one spot. In addition, the cloth-weaving industry seems to have developed from the 11th century onwards, in small centres such as Lille, Ypres (Ieper), Bruges (Brugge), Ghent (Gent), etc. Trade and cloth-weaving became key factors for the development of the pre-urban centre, which began to make its presence felt as an organized body through the influence of the professional bodies (guilds, corporations) and to mark out its physical bounds by building ramparts or palisades with belfries to provide safety against marauders. From the 12th century onwards, such ramparts were often rebuilt in stone and subsequently extended.

Such centres expanded under the protection provided - for a fee - by the castra, whose importance and role gradually diminished to such an extent that in some cases, such as Ghent and Antwerp (Antwerpen), the abandoned castles were taken over by the local burghers. This development illustrates the insoluble conflicts between châtelain and burghers keen to organize as a "commune" with their own administration. Again from the 12th century onwards, successive Counts of Flanders favoured the burghers which led to the flowering, from Arras to Bruges, of thriving towns demanding written proof of their rights and privileges in the form of charters. These charters, issued from the 12th century onwards, are extremely diverse and fragmentary, and extremely practical in nature, often in the form of a step by step approach setting a legal seal on gradually acquired rights.

The commune was in fact made up of all the burghers living in the city who had given their oath of allegiance. At their head were the elected magistrates, the aldermen or scabini responsible for carrying out administrative functions, and the mayeur, who had no specific powers. The chief alderman held an important position, since he presided over the court and council meetings, kept the seals of the town and the keys to its gates, and commanded the town militia which owed the ban (feudal service) to the overlord. As feudal lord, the commune had other obligations to the seigneur, such as the payment of aid in the four following cases: departure on crusade; knighting of the eldest son; dowry of the eldest daughter; ransom of the overlord if taken prisoner. In return, the seigneur swore to protect the commune and respect its rights.

Many of the belfries now in existence are successors to wooden constructions, often destroyed by fire and known only through archives, which give no descriptions. The multi-purpose belfry soon came to be built of stone to prevent the risk of future fires. Its imposing volume formed either an isolated feature or a central or lateral element of the market halls, themselves often rebuilt in stone at an early date.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation
Notes
  • The “Belfries of Flanders and Wallonia” which were previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, are part of the transnational property “The Belfries of Belgium and France”.