These historic European bell towers make us wish we could visit them all
The bell towers evoke an era in history that many travelers don’t even realize they’re nostalgic for, and they’re worth a visit in Europe.
The idea of ringing church bells, intricately designed cathedrals and bustling European cities makes many of us want to travel again. Bell towers have adorned countless churches and buildings across Europe for centuries, often serving as wake-up calls, communications of festivities, announcements or warnings.
Today the continent is home to dozens (if not hundreds) of bell towers, each with a unique and rich history. Take a look at some of these iconic bell towers located in various cities in Europe. From the chic city of Madrid to the bustling city of Moscow, these spiers will make readers want a European holiday!
ten Bell tower of Mortegliano (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
The Mortegliano Bell Tower is the tallest free-standing bell tower in Italy, culminating at 113 meters (or 371 feet). After climbing to the top of the tower (braving the 330 steps), you should also visit the Cathedral of Mortegliano, adorned with architecture with Gothic influences.
9 Almudena Cathedral (Madrid, Spain)
Spain has always been a popular tourist destination, so Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral is a must-see for travelers passionate about design and architecture. Opposite the Royal Palace, the Cathedral houses 2 bell towers, housing bells donated by the Galicians. The massive cathedral is worth a visit for its style alone, especially the inner dome and magnificent altar.
8 Santo Tomás Bell Tower (Haro, La Rioja, Spain)
The Church of Santo Tomás is beautifully adorned with a baroque-style bell tower, built in 1719 by the architect Agustín Ruiz de Azcárraga. The church’s intricate designs know no bounds, with a magnificent door and entrance designed in 1525 by Agustín Ruiz de Azcárraga. After visiting the tower, visitors are encouraged to walk the streets of Haro, the town in northern Spain known for its red wine.
7 Cathedral of the Savior of Zaragoza (Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain)
Considered a World Heritage Site, the Cathedral of the Savior of Zaragoza is a feast for the eyes, due to its architecture inspired by various styles that have graced Europe for centuries. Also nicknamed La Seo, the site is also home to a mosque. The cathedral is adorned with subtleties from influences from the Mudejar, Baroque and Renaissance periods. The elegant bell tower is also decorated with a clock.
6 Belfry of Bruges (Bruges, Belgium)
Located in the heart of Bruges, this 83-meter-high medieval bell tower is adorned with a narrow staircase of 366 steps! Built in the 13th century, the Belfry of Bruges was a treasure in the Middle Ages, but was later rebuilt after a massive fire. Today the bell tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical importance in Bruges. The bell tower is equipped with a carillon, containing 47 bells that play every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday!
5 Belfry of Ghent (Ghent, Belgium)
Standing at 95 feet, the Belfry of Ghent is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site (and also the tallest bell tower in Belgium). This iconic architecture is one of three iconic city tours, protected by an elegant dragon, which has dominated the city since 1377. This Gothic-style bell tower offers stunning views of the city while providing tourists with a perfect itinerary for a quiet day trip.
4 Ivan the Great Bell Tower (Moscow, Russia)
Standing proudly at 81 meters (or 266 feet), the Ivan the Great Bell Tower is part of the Moscow Kremlin complex and was considered one of the tallest landmarks in the city. The bell tower is equipped with 22 bells, the oldest of which dates from the 15th century! Curious travelers can head to the tower to bask in an aerial view of downtown Moscow or learn about the architecture of the Kremlin at the internal museum.
3 Campanile of St. Mark (Venice, Italy)
Considered to be the tallest structure in Venice, measuring almost 100 meters (or 323 feet), the Campanile Saint Mark is the bell tower of Saint Mark’s Basilica. The bell tower has a complex history, with construction beginning in the 10th century. The tower houses a single bell, which is the only surviving when the tower collapsed in 1902. Tourists climbing the intricately designed bell tower will be given an incredible view of the Venetian Lagoon against the backdrop of the floating city.
2 Murcia Cathedral (Murcia, Spain)
It took over 200 years to complete the bell tower of Murcia Cathedral! The bell tower was built from 1521 to 1791, it is considered the tallest free-standing bell tower in Spain, reaching approximately 95 meters (or 312 feet) in height. Due to its long construction, its architecture draws inspiration from various eras, from the subtleties of the Renaissance to the elegance of neoclassical design. The steeple is also adorned with 25 bells, which were previously used as a means of communicating flood warnings and celebrations.
1 Leaning Tower of Pisa (Pisa, Italy)
This free-standing bell tower is a popular attraction among tourists, known for its iconic 4-degree tilt. With its highest point at almost 56 meters (or 183 feet), the photos of the Leaning Tower of Pisa will be the dream of all travelers dreaming of a European vacation! After enjoying the Leaning Tower, tourists can leisurely explore Pisa Cathedral and Pisa Baptistery, admiring its elegant architecture.
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