This is my second time in Bruges and first time was in year 2000. Though 20 years have passed, it seems little changes are happened. The landmark of Bruges, the Belfry, still quietly towering in the central of the city.
This is a medieval bell tower earliest added in 1240 and now as one of the city’s most prominent symbols. The belfry formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives, and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger. Now it is accessible by the public for an entry fee. My daughter and I climbed through steep staircase of 366 steps, which leads to the top of the high building.
The bells in the tower regulated the lives of the city dwellers, announcing the time, fire alarms, work hours, and a variety of social, political, and religious events. Eventually a mechanism ensured the regular sounding of certain bells, for example indicating the hour. In the 16th century the tower received a carillon, allowing the bells to be played of songs during Sundays, holidays and market days.
Burges was a location of coastal settlement in early time. The first fortifications were built in the first century BC, to protect the coastal area against pirates. During 12th to 15th centuries, it is the Golden age for Burges, which owns the strategic location at the crossroads of the northern trade and the southern trade routes, then make it the main link to the trade of the Mediterranean. The weavers and spinners of Bruges were thought to be the best in the world at that time. Afterwards, the maritime infrastructure was modernized and new connections with the sea were built as Antwerp became increasingly dominant. Bruges became impoverished and gradually faded in importance; Until recent decades, restorations of residential and commercial structures, historic monuments, and churches has boomed International tourism. It attracts some eight million tourists annually.
The Belfry of Bruges has witnessed the revival and decline of this city, while I am just a hurried passer-by.