In the Flanders region of Belgium, belfries can be found in the central square of most cities. 56 belfries in total located in Belgium and France have been inscribed as World Heritage.
Between the 13th to the 15th centuries, many cities in Belgium thrived on trading. Belfries were constructed by their citizens as symbols of their prosperity. A set of bells known as Carillon are situated at the top of each belfry, announcing the time to the city.
Carillon can be played by hand, however they are usually operated mechanically. The word Carillon originates from the old French word for a quarter, suggesting that the bells were rung every 15 minutes. From morning until the closing of the castles gates, the sound of bells have chimed the rhythm of peoples lives.
Belfries were originally exclusive to churches but as the cities thrived on trading local citizens started to build their own belfries in their local city square. The belfries in Brugge and Ghent were also built by their citizens. Belfries became a representation of a citizens power. The Flanders city of Mechelen is known as a Carillon city. The belfry here was also built in the 13th century.
This carillon consists of 78 different bells, and is the largest carillon in Flanders. The Royal Carillon School was founded in 1922. This is one of the few Carillon schools in the world and people of all ages learn to play the Carillon here. The school also attracts students from abroad. Everyone who comes here is fascinated by the medieval sound of the Carillon.