Bruges, a historic city of Belgium that is only an hour by car from Brussels, has everything to conquer our hearts. It is a must-see destination.
It is an obvious beauty that carries romanticism in a medieval setting atmosphere. You will be charmed by its stone streets, the presence of water through its canals and bridges, the great public places, majestic houses, palaces, churches and government buildings dating back to the end of the Middle Ages.
Although the center of Bruges is now about fifteen kilometers from the North Sea, there was a time, in the 14th century, when the sea routes naturally came much closer and facilitated trading. It led Bruges to be the richest city in Northern Europe. It is even here that the notion of stock market transactions began and people arrived from all over Europe to acquire goods.
Unfortunately, from the 15th century, the situation changed, Bruges became difficult to access by the river. The Zwijn estuary (the connection of the North Sea to Bruges) was gradually blocked, buried and it became impassable, which displaced the trading center to another city. It was the beginning of a sad era for Bruges which saw the population and neighborhood being abandoned.
The city of Bruges fell asleep quietly and was rather uncontrolled for several years until the day when its tourist potential was realized. The old town did not undergo too much transformation during the industrial revolution, therefore, it kept an impressive collection of historic buildings. Bruges was then restored to its former charm and the whole center of Bruges is now protected and recognized by UNESCO.
Burges is still considered a port city since it is associated with the port of Zeebrugge, an important trading hub. The water that circulates around the city in sometimes narrow passages reflects the architecture and gives an incomparable enchantment to this place.
We had rented a room on a large square and we believed that the hooves of the horse-drawn carriages clattering on the stones would have kept us awake all night but it was rather the opposite, so we missed the included breakfast due to the melodious resonation.
I like to walk around places and get lost a bit by getting away from the big tourist centers to see other facets of the city. Strolling here without a fixed route is pleasant. On the other hand, if time is limited, you could miss out on a major place. It’s up to you to see how you feel if it’s your first visit and how much time you have. Don’t underestimate the beauty of the canals. They are the arteries to the heart of the city. Walk along for a relaxing moment, historical visits, architectural discoveries and photogenic opportunities. The stone bridges are splendid, as well as the few windmills which continue to grind the grains into flour and the parks which you may pass. Too amazed at every turn, I walked and walked until I lost time and destination. We missed the Beguinage Museum. Of course, cruising the canals is also an option.
Without the water, without the canals, Bruges would not have been the place of such an important economic center of the medieval era.
Some gourmet specialties to discover are beer, chocolate, fries, waffles and mussels.
Belgium itself offers an incomparable choice of beers. If you haven’t already done so, you can visit a beer museum or sit in a large square and taste some.
Chocolate, you will find on several major arteries which feature outstanding chocolate makers. Plan a budget for this little intense pleasure. Prefer quality over quantity.
In summary what to see in Bruges:
- Markt Square
- Provinical Hof
- Burg Square
- Renaissance Hall
- Church of our Lady
- Minnewater park
- Royal City Theater
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