Bruges (Brugge) is the capital and largest city of the province of West
Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. Bruges became important due to
the tidal inlet that was important to local commerce; this inlet was then known
as the "Golden Inlet". Bruges received its city charter in 1128, and new walls
and canals were built. In 1089 Bruges became the capital of the County of
Flanders. Bruges had a strategic location at the crossroads of the
northern and the southern trade routes. Starting around 1500, the Zwin
channel, (the Golden Inlet) which had given the city its prosperity, also
started silting and the Golden Era had ended. The city soon fell
behind Antwerp as the economic flagship of the Low Countries.
the last half of the 19th century, Bruges became one of the world's first
tourist destinations attracting wealthy British and French tourists. In World
War I German forces occupied Bruges but the city suffered virtually no damage.
From 1940 in World War II the city again was occupied by the Germans and again
spared destruction. Bruges has most of its medieval architecture
intact, making it one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Europe. After
1965 the original medieval city experienced a renaissance. International
tourism has boomed, and new efforts have resulted in Bruges being designated
'European Capital of Culture' in 2002. It attracts some 2 million tourists
July 17 ...
- Poeke Castle
We passed by Poeke Castle, in a small town in the municipality of Aalter in
the Belgium province of East Flanders, on our way to Bruges. The
castle, standing in 56 hectares (140 acres) of park, is surrounded by water
and is accessible through bridges at the front and rear of the building.
It is unknown when the first fortification was constructed at Poeke, but
references to it appear from 1139 onwards with a long history. Poeke
Castle became an official national monument in 1943, and the park was
declared a protected landscape in 1978. The castle is used for
some cultural meetings and festivities although it is not maintained in its
top condition (we learned that we can actually go in the building if we
apply for the permit in writing). I was glad that we visited this
place as there was no other tourist at all and we could have the whole place
to stroll in our own pace.
- Minnewater Lake (Lake of Love)
Tucked away at the southern end of
Bruges is the beautiful area known as "Minnewater". The center piece is the
"Lake of Love" and" Lovers bridge" . It’s a great place to be with someone
you love! A very tranquil location within the confines of the city.
- Beguinage (Begijnhof)
The ‘Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde’ with
its white-coloured house fronts, tranquil convent garden and beguinage
museum was founded in 1245. This little piece of world heritage was once the
home of the beguines, emancipated lay-women who nevertheless led a pious and
celibate life. Today the beguinage is inhabited by nuns of the Order of St.
Benedict and several Bruges women who have decided to remain unmarried.
It is a quiet and peaceful place although there are many tourists like us
- Belfry of Bruges (Belfort van Brugge)
important of Bruges’ tower stands 83 meters tall. It houses, amongst other
things, a carillon with 47 melodious bells. The belfry was added to
the market square around 1240, when Bruges was an important center of
the Flemish cloth industry. The octagonal upper stage of the belfry was
added between 1483 and 1487, and capped with a wooden spire bearing.
However, a lightning stroke the spire in 1493 and reduced it to ashes.
A wooden spire crowned the summit again for some two-and-a-half centuries,
but fell victim to flames again in 1741. The spire was never replaced, thus making the current height of the building somewhat lower than in
There is a limit for how many people allowed in the tower.
They have an interesting ticket system at the entrance that they will sell
you the tickets only when there are people coming down from the tower so you
can imagine the line may get very long and without moving for a while ...
A visit to Bruges isn’t complete without a boat trip on
its canals. A half-hour trip that allows you to appreciate the most
noteworthy delights of this medieval city from a completely different angle.
- City Hall (Stadhuis), Basilica of the Holy Blood, and Market Place
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is located in the Burge square.
The double church, dedicated to Our Lady and Saint Basil in the 12th century
and a basilica since 1923, consists of a lower church that has maintained
its Romanesque character and a neo-Gothic upper church, in which the relic
of the Holy Blood is preserved.
July 18 ...
- Old St. John (Oud Sint-Jan) Site -- XPO Center
Old St. John's
Hospital is an 11th-century hospital in Bruges, and it is one of
Europe's oldest surviving hospital buildings. The building served as a
hospital till 1977.
At the historic Oud Sint-Jan (Old St. John) site,
there are more than 400 original works of art by the great Spanish masters
Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. In addition to these permanent
exhibitions, there are also different temporary expositions (there were
exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci and Antonio Nunziante when we visited).
- City Hall (Stadhuis) and
Liberty of Bruges (Brugse Vrije)
The Brugse Vrije is the former law court of Bruges. It now houses written
history of Bruges as the city archives are based here.
The Bruges city
hall was built in 1376, which makes it one of the oldest town halls in the
Low Countries. The city has been ruled from here for over 600 years. The
gothic hall is a work of art in itself, with its splendid 19th century
murals and a colourful vaulted ceiling.
- De Halve Maan Brewery
The ‘Halve Maan’ (Half Moon) is an authentic and historic brewery in the
center of Bruges. This ‘home’ brewery is a family business with a tradition
stretching back through six generations to 1856. I booked the XL tour
which last for ~ 90 min and you will visit the brewery in a small group
followed by a professional beer tasting in the cellars of the brewery where
you will be introduced to the secrets of serving and tasting beer. We
were given 4 types of beers ranging from light to dark (and from 6% to 11%
alcohol), and at the end it was a little too much for me :-)
- St. Salvator's Cathedral (Sint-Salvatorskathedraal)
Cathedral, the main church of the city, is one of the few buildings in
Bruges that have survived the onslaught of the ages without damage.
Since the 10th century the Sint-Salvator was a common parish church. At that
time the Sint-Donaaskathedraal (St. Donatian's Cathedral), which was located
at the very heart of Bruges, opposite of the town hall, was the central
religious building of the city. At the end of the 18th century
the French occupiers of Bruges threw out the bishop of Bruges and destroyed
the Sint-Donaaskathedraal. In 1834, shortly after Belgium's
independence in 1830, a new bishop was installed in Bruges and the
Sint-Salvator church obtained the status of cathedral. However, the
building itself was not very cathedral-like. It was actually much smaller
and much less impressive than the nearby church of Our Lady (which we did
not visit this time because it was under restoration). Hence, a higher
and more impressive
tower was needed and constructed in 1839. Even with its new tower (99
meters), it is shorter than the tower of the nearby church of Our Lady (115
There was a organ musician playing/practicing on the organ when
we visited the cathedral. It was good to listen to the holy music at
the sacred place.
- Bruges Concert Hall (Concertgebouw)
The Concertgebouw was designed by
Paul Robbrecht and Hilde Daem and completed in 2002. The building
complex houses a large concert hall seating more than 1290 visitors on three
levels and a chamber music hall seating 320. It was the first concert
by SHS Symphony Orchestra (full orchestra with combined strings and winds).
It was a good performance although I hoped to hear more trumpets from the
Rhapsody in Blue :-)
- Evening at City Hall
Our hotel was just right next to the city hall
square. It was easy for me to step out of the hotel and take a few
long exposure night shots, and went back room in 10 min!
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