The city of Bruges is a wonderful concentrate of tourist attractions and an example of a perfectly preserved medieval old town to the present day. Thanks to this, in 2000 the medieval historic center of Bruges was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Furthermore, the Belfort of Brugge, between the Beffrois of Belgium and France, and the Béguinage of Bruges, among the Flemish Béguinages are also part of the UNESCO heritage.
A HISTORICAL CENTER TO VISIT ON FOOT
Bruges, which is rich in attractions and is one of the most important tourist destinations in Belgium, it can be easily visited on foot, thanks to its small size. Famous for its splendid monuments and for its structure, the city is known for its wonderful historical center. Within the area of the disappeared medieval wall, of which four gates still remain, there are numerous canals, palaces and ancient churches. Bruges is known as the “Venice of Belgium”.
The center of the city is represented by the market squares, the Markt and the Burg. The Markt is dominated by the Belfort (the clock tower, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), 83 meters high, home to the Bruggemuseum-Belfort museum. On the square there is also the Provinciaal Hof, in neo-Gothic style (1887-1921). This building was the old seat of the provincial government of West Flanders. At the center of the Markt is the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter De Coninck, heroes of the anti-French resistance in 1302. All around the square are the facades of the splendid Guild Houses.
A short distance from the Markt is one of Bruges attractions, the ancient Burg square, which can be reached along the Breidelstraat. On this square overlooks the Basilica of the Holy Blood (Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed) which contains the relic of the Holy Blood of Jesus, transported to Bruges probably after the sack 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 on the second floor of the chapel, in neo-Gothic style, the sacred relic is kept.
Also in the Burg is the Stadhuis (Town Hall), built between 1376 and 1420. Home to the Bruggemuseum Stadhuis, it contains the famous Gothic Room (Gotische Zaal) with sumptuous 19th-century murals and a polychrome wooden ceiling. An interesting Renaissance palace (1534-1537) is the Voormalige Civiele Griffie (the house of old memories). This was the ancient seat of the court of justice and today there are the municipal archives and the Brugse Vrije museum where you can visit the Renaissance Room (Renaissancezaal) with a monumental fireplace from 1529 designed by Lanceloot Blondeel. Still in the Burg is the Proosdij (provostship), an ancient Baroque residence (1665-66) of the Proposal of the old Sint-Donaas cathedral, which was destroyed in 1799.
THE FISH MARKET AND THE ROZENHOEDKAAI
Near the Burg square there is the Fish Market, a building from 1821, open from Tuesday to Saturday from 6.00 to 13.00. Just beyond is Rozenhoedkaai, one of the most photogenic and photographed attractions in Bruges. The Onthaalkerk Onze Lieve Vrouw (church of Our Lady), houses a rich collection of art objects, including Michelangelo’s famous “Madonna and Child”, and the mausoleum of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold.
The St.-Salvatorskathedraal (Cathedral of Saint Savior) is the oldest church in Bruges, dating back to the XII-XV century. Inside you can admire the choir with the 17th century organ, the tapestries and various paintings, as well as the cathedral museum. The Begijnhof (Beguinage, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO) founded in 1245, shows the everyday life of the past. The “Brouwerij De Halve Maan” brewery founded in 1546 is also interesting.
There are numerous musical and vocal events, festivals, antiques fairs, historical processions such as that of the Holy Blood (St.-Sang, which is held on the first Monday of May), hosted by the charming town.
In the surroundings of Bruges (Brugge) it is possible to visit the town of Damme. That was the ancient port of Bruges, with numerous historical buildings, and today known for bookstores and for the book fair.