Bruges, or Brugge in Dutch, is Belguim’s most perfectly preserved medieval town. The cobbled lanes and canals linking the market square, the beautiful architecture – Gothic and Baroque buildings, watery landscapes, history, culture and the charmed atmosphere makes the city one not be mist on your must see list.
TOP 8 PLACES TO VISIT
1.BELFRY & HALLE
Bruges most distinctive landmark, the Halle was begun in 1248 and twice enlarged. Enclosing a picturesque courtyard, the balcony above the entrance was once used by the city fathers to promulgate their statutes to the populace assembled beneath. The 83-meter-high belfry’s construction started in 1282 and the octagonal upper section was finally competed in 1482. A carillon of 47 bell is still hanging in the tower. The old Treasure Room where civic documents are kept behind wrought-iron grills can be visited on the second floor. From the top you will have spectacular views of Bruges and surrounding areas.
2.HISTORIC CENTRE OF BRUGES
Since 2000, the centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding example of a medieval historic settlement, which has maintained its historic fabric as this has evolved over the centuries." The restored buildings are framed with canals or cobblestone paths, giving the area an old world feel. The restored buildings once housed merchants but today they are repurposed as cafés, boutiques and art galleries.
If you are a art lover, the gallery is without a doubt a must-see. Filled with Bruges best collection of art, and an excellent endowment of Old Flemish paintings from the 15th century such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling as well as works from the Flemish Primitives and Modernists also adorn the walls. If you need a break from it all, there are wonderful views from the building of the market square.
The mission statement of the museum is: "To make known the story of the transformation of cocoa into chocolate and to promote the health and quality aspects of Belgian chocolate." This museum is all about chocolate, it’s history, recipes and more. You can also visit one of the Bruges celebrated chocolates shops.
The museum is the worlds first and only, dedicated to Belgian potato fries. You can learn about Belgium's history with this beloved snack; or visit the museum on the ground floor where you can learn the roots of the potato’s from Peru and finally you can sample some tasty potato fries in the basement.
6.BASILICA OF THE HOLY BLOOD
This small basilica presides over the central plaza known as the Brug. The basilica dates back to the 12th century and it was once the residence of the Count of Flanders. A crystal vial containing a drop of Christ’s blood brought back from the Holy Land in 1149 by Dietrich of Alsace on his return from the Second Crusade. The façade with its three Flamboyant-style arches and gilded statues erected between 1529 and 1534, the Romanesque lower chapel, a late Gothic upper chapel and a elegant spiral staircase built in 1480 is some of the highlight of the basilica. The museum has other objects worth seeing including a crown that once belonged to Mary of Burgundy.
7.CHURCH OF OUR LADY
The church dates back from the 13th century and was completed in the 15th century is best known for Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child statue. Other artwork on display is of lesserknown artists dating back from the 15th century and the tombs of Charles the Bold and his daughter crafted in bronze and stone. There are also a couple of mausoleums that are worth seeing.
The oldest building in Bruges was founded in the 12th century. The tympanum over the bricked up gate, are embellished with reliefs showing the Virgin, which bears the date 1270. On display in the once wards of the hospital are documents and surgical instruments charts of the hospital’s history. Adjacent to the wards the old dispensary has also been preserved.
OTHER PLACES TO SEE
The best way to get around Bruges is on foot. Other transport available: bicycle, bus, car and taxi.
The best time to visit Bruges is from late June to September, when the weather is mild and the trees are green.