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Carillon

A carillon is a musical instrument that is played using a keyboard and that consists of at least 23 bronze bells. The bells must provide a harmonic sound. The carillon first saw the limelight in the 16th century when rich cities, like Bruges, embellished their belfries and steeples with tower bells. In the 17th century, the technique was refined and by the end of the 19th century, the carillon was increasingly used as a musical instrument in its own right, not related, therefore, to towers and churches. Since November 2014, UNESCO has recognised the Belgian carillon culture as Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Those of you who wish to listen to a spot of carillon playing in the next few days can do so at the Market Square of Bruges (carillon with 47 bells), the Grootseminarie (theological academy) of Bruges (26 bells), Damme Town Hall (39 bells) and the Church of Lissewege (24 bells).

  • The very first bells came from China in around 2,000 BC.
  • The Bruges Belfort (belfry) is 83 meters high and contains a carillon with 47 fine-sounding bells, the brass weighing 27 tons in total.
  • Carrilon Major Seminary
    When the Ten Duinen Abbey (now the Grootseminarie, or Major Seminary) was erected in 1628-1642, a carillon tower was built on the south-east corner of one of the wings that contained 26 bells.
  • Carillon Lissewege
    The church tower of the Gothic Our Lady of the Visitation Church (Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Bezoeking kerk) was built in 1265 but never completed when funds ran out.
  • Carillon Town hall Damme
    A tower clock was installed on the Damme town hall in 1466 and it is still there today, one of the oldest in the country.
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