Beffroi de Mons
The proud symbol of the identity of Mons, affectionately called “el catiau”, was built in the 17th century after the crash of the clock tower (1661). This building of 87m in height is the only Belgian belfry in baroque style. The Belfry of Mons illustrates the sober baroque style, with classic decorations. The walls are made of sandstone of Bray, while the embellishments, including the columns and supportive pilasters, consist of blue stone.
The Belfry of Mons is one of the 32 “Belfries of Flanders and Wallonia” (Belgium) that the UNESCO inscribed onto its list of world cultural heritage in 1999. In 2005, the belfry of Gembloux in the Walloon Region of Belgium and 23 belfries from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie régions in the northern tip of France were appended to the renamed list. Today this group is called “Belfries of Belgium and France”.
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.