The Carillons of Leuven


The carillon instrument is a series of bronze bells that are connected to a piano. Belgium is credited for inventing this instrument because the first one was installed in a Flanders bell tower in 1510. I was able to experience this tradition first hand.

What tradition did I learn about?:

KU Leuven offered students an opportunity to climb up the bell tower and enjoy a live concert from a carillon player in the main library. The carillon player sat at what looked like a piano to play the over 20 bells of the carillon. Not only was there a view of the whole town, but we were also able to request songs that were played throughout the town.  

Why does the community have this tradition?:

There are five carillons in Leuven that fill the air with song as the hours change. The most famous carillon at the university library was a gift from the United States. Following World War II, the United States also rebuilt the entire library. The University has a second carillon in the Groot Begijnhof heritage site. 

Is this tradition connected to its environment? How?:

This tradition reflects the industrial prowess of Belgium and the importance Churches had to the communities living there. Carillons are unique to the area because of the many church towers available to place the massive bells in.