Its focal point is the Markt, dominated by the city's illustrious 83m belfry. Those belfries, always found in an urban setting, are imposing bell-towers of medieval origin, generally attached to the town hall and occasionally to a church. They are potent symbols of the transition from feudalism to the mercantile urban society that played a vital role in the development of late medieval Europe. The 30 belfries in Flanders and Wallonia form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other important plazza is the Burg, bordered by the Staduis, Belgium's oldest townhall, which contains the magnificent Gotische Zall (Gothic Hall), and by the Heilg Bloedbasiliek (Basilica of the Holy Blood), which houses a relic of the Christ's blood.
In a quieter part of the historical center, close to its periphery, lies a Beguinage. The Beguines were women who dedicated their lives to God without retiring from the world. In the 13th century, they founded the Beguinages (Begijnhof), enclosed communities designed to meet their spiritual and material needs. The Beguinages combine interesting characteristics of urban and rural planning, as well as religious and traditional architecture, in styles specific to the Flemish cultural region. The 13 Flemish Beguinages form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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