The medieval Flanders city of Bruges not only has a beautiful face, but is also very cultural. You may have heard it described as Venice of the North, or Belgium’s answer to Amsterdam.
Canal in Bruges with Belfry in the background
Canal in Bruges with Belfry in the background (c) pixabay / hansiline
Bruges is a pleasant place to visit and, fortunately, English is spoken along with their Dutch. At the heart of the city is the quaintly rocky main square, Markt or Grote Markt.
The square is used as an open air market for more than eight hundred years until 1983 and is also a place where demonstrators can be heard and where proclamations are held. These days the market square with its restaurants and bars, framed by the impressive Flemish building, remains equally attractive to modern visitors.
The best display
View of Bruges from Belfry
View of Bruges from Belfry (c) Donarreiskoffer
One of the landmarks is Belfry. The energetic can run 366 steps from the Belfort Tower to enjoy the beautiful views of the city from the eyes of birds. (Entries £ 1.60 per adult). After taking a breath after the excursion, get ready to be immediately taken back by the amazing Flemish architecture that encloses the neighboring square of Burg.
A place to see
The light that shines from the square is the 15th-century Gothic Hall of the Stadhuis, City Hall. The beautiful stone looks as smooth as lace and its grandeur continues inside with majestic stairs, domed ceilings, and Goth-style frescoes.
Bruges Town Hall
Bruges City Hall (c) CEphoto, Uwe Aranas
On the other side of the square is the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Although small on the outside, the interior is surprisingly spacious. Holy Blood Relics are stored in the chapel. In the middle of Burg Square there are always a dozen handsome horse-drawn carriages which, for a small fee of 25 euros (£ 16) for up to 4 people, will take you to ride 35 minutes around narrow narrow cobbled streets while the driver tells all about Bruges . But you might prefer a guided boat tour towards the bracket – an arch from the square will take you there. It costs £ 3 for a half hour stress-free tour over an ancient stone bridge over calm waters.
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This well-trodden tourist entertainment is very enjoyable, however, there are other less visited sights that should not be missed. For example the 13th-century Our Lady Church (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) has a 400-foot-long spire that leads upward from the Gothic Church. Inside, surrounded by gray stone columns is a beautiful white marble statue from Madonna and Child created by famous artist Michelangelo. This is a real treat because his work is rarely seen outside of his native Italy. The tomb of Mary of Burgundy and her father Charles the Bold are on the stand. Be sure to visit before closing for Mass at 11:00 a.m.
Looking for love
Those looking for love should take a walk to Minnewater – the lake of love (‘Minne’ means ‘love’ in Flemish). Lake is said to have the power to help you find love in your life if you want it. Of course the romance of the swan that glided helped to reinforce this story. Ironically, the lake leads to a 13th-century building known as Beguinage. Although it is now a monastery run by 2000 Benedictine nuns, the monastery was once used as a home for women who were not married or abandoned because of material. The order was established by Beguines – the women themselves – but the last of Beguine died in 1930.
For art lovers, the Groeninge art museum displays a variety of formidable paintings, generally the great works of the Flemish Primitives, especially Van Eyck and Memling. Although few tourists, a short visit to the Diamond Museum might prove interesting to those who consider this sparkling stone an art form.
Bruges has several interesting shops located on its ancient and natural streets. For example, clever fashion lovers can find some fantastic designer clothes at low prices on Troc (Korte Zilverstraat 12). Chocolate lovers will have a large choice but an excellent chocolatier is Dumon (Eiermarkt, 6) where praline is a specialty. Other Belgian gastronomic specialties include sausages, pates and cheeses and tastes that are interested should go to Diksmuids Boterhuis (Geldmuntstraat 23).