Bruges (Brugge) (approximately 120,000 inhabitants), capital of West Flanders, is located 13 km from the North Sea, it’s connected by some artificial channels with its port, Zeebrugge.
In the city are active textile, mechanical, electrical, shipbuilding, metallurgical, chemical, food, glass, wood, lace industries. Bruges specialties are lace, antiques, chocolate, praline, beer, the city is famous for the production of Bruges lace-works.
Small village over the river Zwyn in 1128 it became an autonomous municipality, in this period were also built walls and new channels, the city had a significant development, becoming an important centre for manufacturing wool and a commercial market for wool and fabric.
Bruges (Brugge) in the thirteenth century, was one of the commercial, economic and cultural capital of Europe, with direct trade with rich Italian cities, which opened the city to the Mediterranean and Eastern products.
Great impulse had also banking and commercial techniques, as once past to the Duke of Burgundy (1384), the city became an important artistic centre, it was here that in the fifteenth century was born the Flemish Primitive School painting, in this period, the Brugge population overcame the 40,000 inhabitants.
In the sixteenth century the city declined, for the competition of Antwerp and Ghent and also for the gradual silting of river Zwyn.
Bruges tourist attractions: what to see in Bruges
The city of Bruges is a wonderful example of medieval old town perfectly preserved until today, thanks to this, in 2000 the historic medieval centre of Bruges has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, UNESCO has also entered in its list of Beffrois of Belgium and France, the Belfort Brugge, and in its list of Flemish Béguinages the Bruges Béguinage.
The city is a frequented tourist destination, it can safely be visited on foot, for its small size, are also interesting alternative to visit it with the boat, or carriage tours. Famous for its beautiful monuments and its urban structure, the old town (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO) has oval form and is intersected by numerous channels, and for this Bruges is often called the Venice of Belgium.
Its historic center still keeps the four gates of the 1326 walls, a number of old buildings, and is the most prestigious and best preserved of Belgium. The city centre is formed by the market squares, Markt and the Burg, the Markt is dominated by Belfort (the clock tower, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), 83 meters high, home of the museum Bruggemuseum-Belfort, on the square is also the Provinciaal Hof, in the neo-Gothic (1887-1921), former headquarters of the provincial government of West Flanders, in the middle of Markt is the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter De Coninck, heroes of Anti-French resistance in 1302, around the square are the splendid facades of houses of the Guilds.
A short distance from the Markt is the ancient square Burg, which reaches along the Breidelstraat, on the square facing the Basilica of the Sacred Blood (Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed) contains a relic of the Sacred Blood of Jesus, transported in Bruges probably after the sacking of Constantinople (1204) at the time of the Fourth Crusade, on the ground floor there is the chapel of St. Basil (1139-1149) in Romanesque style, while in the second floor of the chapel, in neo-Gothic style, it’s kept the sacred relic.
In Burg is the Stadhuis (town hall), built between 1376 and 1420, home of Bruggemuseum Stadhuis, it contains the famous Gothic Room (Gotische Zaal) with sumptuous mural paintings of the nineteenth century and polychrome wooden ceiling.
Interestingly Renaissance palace (1534-1537) is the Voormalige Civiele Griffie (home of the old memories), the ancient seat of the Court of Justice and now the municipal archives and the museum Brugse Vrije where you visit the Renaissance Room (Renaissancezaal) with a monumental fireplace 1529, designed by Lanceloot Blondeel. In Burg is also the Proosdij (Propositura), an old baroque residence (1665-66) of the Proposed old Cathedral of Sint-Donaas, the cathedral was destroyed in 1799.
Near the Burg square is the Fish Market, a 1821 building, open from Tuesday to Saturday from 6.00 to 13.00. Just behind is Rozenhoedkaai, one of the most photographed places in Bruges. The Onthaalkerk Onze Lieve Vrouw (Church of Our Lady), is home to a rich collection of objects of art, including the famous “Madonna and Child” by Michelangelo, and the mausoleum of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. The St.-Salvatorskathedraal (Cathedral of St. Saviour) is the oldest church in Bruges, dates back to 12th-15th century, inside are the choir with the seventeenth century organ, tapestries and several paintings, in addition to the cathedral museum. The Begijnhof (Beghinaggio, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO) founded in 1245, presents the everyday life of the past. The brewery “Brouwerij De Halve Maan” founded in 1546. There are numerous events and vocal music, festivals, antique fairs, historic processions as that of Holy Blood (St.-Sang, held the first Monday of May), hosted in this beautiful city.
Around Bruges (Brugge), you can visit the town of Damme, the ancient port of Bruges, with many historic buildings, and today known for libraries and the book fair.
WHAT TO VISIT: BRUGES (BRUGGE) MUSEUMS
Several and interesting are the museums of this city in particular the group of historical museums called Bruggemuseum, they are six museums in six different locations in historic homes and buildings in the city centre: Bruggemuseum-Archeologie, archaeological museum; Bruggemuseum-Belfort, allows visiting the clock tower, 83 meters high, from the top of which has a wonderful view of the city, on the second floor of the tower is the Treasury room, now a museum; Bruggemuseum-Brugse Vrije in this museum you visit the Renaissance Chamber with a monumental fireplace of the sixteenth century; Bruggemuseum-Gentpoort.
Bruggemuseum-Gruuthuse, interesting museum in a patrician home in the city, in addition to the rooms and halls of the house it presents a collection of ancient art, sculpture, furniture, silver and metal objects, ceramics, textiles, coins and musical instruments.
Bruggemuseum-Onthaalkerk OLV, this is the church of Our Lady, which has a brick towers of the highest of Belgium (122 metres), the church has a rich collection of Art objects, including the famous “Madonna con il Bambino” (Madonna with the Child) by Michelangelo, the great chorus, the mausoleum of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold and some noble tombs.
Bruggemuseum-Stadhuis, the Municipality of Bruges was built in 1376 and is one of the oldest of Flanders, inside to admire the Gothic Room with sumptuous mural paintings of the nineteenth century and polychrome ceiling.
Artistic Works of the 15th-21th can be found in the two museums Arents House and Groeningemuseum, particularly in the Groeningemuseum is exposed a collection of Flemish Primitives, as well as Renaissance and Baroque paintings, with masterpieces by Jan Van Eyck, Hugo van der Goes, Hans Memling and Gerard David. In Forum + [Concertgebouw], are held exhibitions of contemporary art.
Another series of museums is that of the old hospitals Hospitaalmuseums the museum located in the hospital in Sint-Jan, Memling in Sint-Jan, one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, presents an opportunity to understand how operated a hospital in the Middle Ages (shelter for the sick but also for the pilgrims), the museum also hosts in the hospital chapel, six works by Hans Memling.
OLV-b-Potterieits, is a historic hospital complex dated between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, it houses a beautiful baroque church and collections of paintings, sculptures, furniture, tapestries and silver work. Another section of the Bruges Museums are those dedicated to folklore: Koeleweimolen, windmill for grinding grain of 1765 still working. Sint-Janshuismolen, windmill for grinding grain of 1770 still working. Guido Gezelle Museum is the home of the Flemish writer Guido Gezelle. Other museums in the city are: Begijnhuisje reconstructs the life of the inhabitants of Bruges in the past. Choco-Story museum dedicated to chocolate. Diamantmuseum, the Museum of Diamonds. Brugge Engels Klooster, the English convent. Heilig-Bloedbasiliek, Basilica of the Sacred Blood containing the relic of the Holy Blood and the relic museum. Jeruzalemkerk, fifteenth century church on the forms of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Lumina Domestica (lampenmuseum), a museum dedicated to the history of illumination from the flashlight to the LED. Ter Doest (Lissewege), an ancient Cistercian abbey of the twelfth century. Volkssterrenwacht Beisbroek, public astronomical observatory and planetarium.
HOW TO GET TO BRUGES
CAR: Bruges is located in the north-west of Belgium and is easily accessible from the rest of Europe via the motorway network. Bruges is only an hour’s drive from Brussels.
FLIGHTS: There are three airports that can be used to get to Bruges: the airports of Brussels, Brussels South-Charleroi and Ostend.
BUS: Eurolines make direct connections from many European cities to Brussels and Antwerp. From here there are many connections to Bruges.
FERRY: The port of Bruges, Zeebrugge (16 km from Bruges), is connected with Hull in the UK by daily ferries (P & O Ferries) the journey takes about 14 hours.
The port of Ostend is located just 25 km from Bruges, it is connected to Ramsgate in the UK by daily ferry (only car transport) by Transeuropea Ferries.
TRAIN: Bruges is located on the railway line Brussels-London, the city is connected with direct trains from all major cities of Belgium and many European cities. The train station of Bruges is one of the stops on the Thalys train linking Paris to Brussels and Ostend.
GETTING AROUND: URBAN TRANSPORT OF BRUGES
Bruges has an excellent public transport network consisting of buses operated by De Lijn that connect the city center with the various districts of the city and with neighboring towns. The public transport network of Bruges is made up urban and regional lines. There are 18 bus lines, which connect all corners of the city, and 24 regional lines connecting Bruges with its suburbs and neighboring towns.
The central area of the city of Bruges is easily explored on foot. Another means of transport to explore the city is the bicycle, which can be easily rented at several points hire.