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5 bell tower route

(56.1 km)

In the southwest of Friesland, you'll find several bell chairs: structures made of thick wooden or iron beams with a bell in the middle. They are often located near a church or cemetery in a small village or hamlet. This route takes you along five of these unique Frisian (national) monuments.

Since most bell chairs are found in Friesland, it can be considered a typical Frisian architectural feature. And we're very proud of that!

Poor communities with soft peat soil
These structures likely originated because certain villages/co…

In the southwest of Friesland, you'll find several bell chairs: structures made of thick wooden or iron beams with a bell in the middle. They are often located near a church or cemetery in a small village or hamlet. This route takes you along five of these unique Frisian (national) monuments.

Since most bell chairs are found in Friesland, it can be considered a typical Frisian architectural feature. And we're very proud of that!

Poor communities with soft peat soil
These structures likely originated because certain villages/communities in Friesland were too small and poor to afford a tall church tower with a bell. Additionally, consideration had to be given to the soft, peat-like ground. Therefore, a simple church was built without a tower, but with a bell chair next to it. In some places, there isn't even a church, only a bell chair. Or the church was destroyed here or never existed. The bell chairs seem to watch over the surrounding graves.

Do you hear the bells ringing?
In the past, the bell was used as a timer for farm laborers so they knew when the workday began and ended, and if there was a threat of danger. Nowadays, the bells ring at funerals or commemorations. Fun fact: the Ypecolsga Bell Chair has two bells. The rest have one, some of which are centuries old.

Monuments on a sightline
When you're at the Indijk bell chair, take a look north and south. The church of Heeg (north) and the Ypecolsga bell chair (south) are on a vertical line with each other. In the past, churches and bell chairs were built on natural elevations in the landscape, making them visible from afar in an open landscape. So, be sure to stop and admire them!

The route
You start the cycling route at the Wetterspetter in Indijk, where you'll already spot the first bell chair nearby. Be sure to also visit the charming village of Woudsend. After Woudsend, you cycle along the Slotermeer towards Balk, where you'll find yourself in the beautiful area of Gaasterland. Enjoy the wooded surroundings and the beautiful roads. Cycling along the coast of the IJsselmeer, you'll pass the cliffs before making your way back via De Morra, Elahuizen to Indijk.

Bell chairs in Southwest Friesland
This route takes you along five bell chairs. In total, the region has more than 20 bell chairs. View them all here: bell towers in Southwest Friesland 

Sights on this route

1

Minicamping De Wetterspetter

The mini-campsite offers a unique watersports location in Southwest Friesland with its own harbor just 200 meters away on the Heegermeer, near Woudsend. There are opportunities to rent sloops, sailboats, canoes, and paddleboards.

Minicamping De Wetterspetter Laserwedstrijd 2022
2

Klokkenstoel Indijk

Indijk had a church dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Around 1720 only the ruins with the bell-chair remained. The bell chair has been replaced several times since then, the last time in 1978 when the current chair was purchased.

Klokkenstoel Indijk
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3

Woudsend (Wâldsein)

Woudsend is a village nestled between Lake Heegermeer and Lake Slotermeer.

Visit Woudsend

Woudsend (Wâldsein)
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4

Belltower Ypecolsga

Ypecolsga is a hamlet near Woudsend. The double bellcote in Ypecolsga was completely replaced in 1956. Beneath the peculiar hipped roof hang 2 bells dating back to 1664.

Belltower Ypecolsga
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5

Slotermeer (Sleattemer Mar)

The Sleattemer Mar (also known as the Slotermeer) is situated between the three towns of Sloten, Balk, and Woudsend.

Slotermeer (Sleattemer Mar)
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6

Balk

Balk is a large village with many amenities in Southwest Friesland; it is the main town of Gaasterland and is situated along the Elfstedentocht route.

Visit Balk

Balk
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7

Ruigahuizen Bell Tower

At one time the village of Ruigahuizen had a church and a bell tower. The old bell tower was demolished in 1920. A new one was built to replace it in 1956. The old bell was installed beneath the four-sided dome roof of the new bell tower.

Ruigahuizen Bell Tower
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8

Oudemirdum

Oudemirdum is a charming village located amidst the forests of Southwest Friesland in the Gaasterland region.

Visit Oudemirdum

Oudemirdum
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Mar en Klif Visitor Center

In the visitor centre, you will discover many aspects of National Landscape Southwest Fryslân

Mar en Klif Visitor Center
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10

Mirnserklif

If you set off from the Rijsterbos forest and walk in the direction of Lake IJsselmeer you will come to the cliff at Mirns. It is a place that attracts kite surfers, kite flyers and beach lovers. The cliff was formed during the last ice age but one.

Mirnserklif
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Mirns Bell Tower

In the graveyard in the village of Mirns there is a bell tower with a hip roof. It was built in 1953, after an American bomber crashed into the old bell tower in 1943, killing everyone on board.

Mirns Bell Tower
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12

Mokkebank - De Mok - Vogelkijkhut

Duizenden futen.

Mokkebank - De Mok - Vogelkijkhut
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13

Harbor of Laaksum

The harbor of Laaksum is an idyllic spot in Southwest Friesland. We often refer to it as the smallest fishing harbor in Europe.

Harbor of Laaksum Laaksum de Hang
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Rode Klif (Red Cliff) at Lake IJsselmeer

At the edge of Lake IJsselmeer there is a red cliff that is 10 metres high. It was formed during the last ice age but one when the land was pushed up by glaciers that advanced from Scandinavia. The forces exerted by the ice created hills in the landscape.

Rode Klif (Red Cliff) at Lake IJsselmeer
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15

Scharl Bell Tower

The circular graveyard in the little village of Scharl sits on a natural mound. The wooden bell tower in the graveyard was built in 1898. Beneath its four-sided metal dome roof there is a single bell.

Scharl Bell Tower
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16

Minicamping De Wetterspetter

The mini-campsite offers a unique watersports location in Southwest Friesland with its own harbor just 200 meters away on the Heegermeer, near Woudsend. There are opportunities to rent sloops, sailboats, canoes, and paddleboards.

Minicamping De Wetterspetter Laserwedstrijd 2022
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