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Bell tower, either freestanding or attached to another structure. More particularly it refers to the room, usually at the top of such a tower, where the bells and their supporting timberwork are hung. The belfry is a prominent feature of Belgian Gothic architecture, especially in Flanders. The Halles (Market Hall) and belfry in Brugge (late 13th century) is a typical example. The term derives from the medieval siege tower (berfrei), a tall wooden structure that could be rolled up to a fortification wall so that the warriors hidden inside could storm the battlements.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on belfry, visit Britannica.com.