A nice visit to Brugge

Brugge Travel Blog

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Windmill on the city wall around the old centre of Brugge

Brugge is a very nice small city situated only 100 km from Brussels. The city is as many others known as the Venice of the North, Brugge is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. This was a justified motive that prompted UNESCO in 2000 to include the entire historical city centre on the World Heritage list. Walking along the maze of winding cobbled alleys and romantic canals, you very fast imagine yourself to be in medieval times - houses are just amazing if you are to old ones. The wealth of museums is a striking image of this city's stirring history.

Brugge is an outstanding example of a medieval historic settlement, which has maintained its historic fabric as this has evolved over the centuries, and where original Gothic constructions form part of the town's identity.

Our horse carriage seen from the windmill
As one of the commercial and cultural capitals of Europe, Brugge developed cultural links to different parts of the world. It is closely associated with the school of Flemish Primitive painting

 

Today's Brugge has a population of about 45.000 people (the old center) or 120.000 people (center together  with the suburbs). These numbers clearly show that Brugge is not a tiny miniature city. It ranks, even today, among the important cities of Belgium. It is also the capital of the Belgian province of West-Flanders. The best way to visit Bruges is to spend at least one night in one of the many beautiful and cozy hotels. Later in the evening, when all the tourists have gone, Brugge finds back its charm and quiet of old times. When one is lucky with the weather, a stroll through the tiny medieval streets can be an enchanting experience. Bruges is always beautiful, in the summertime as well as in the wintertime.

The Alms houses. This street is for the former shoemakers.

 

Bruges is unique, in the sense that here the town authorities have done the utmost to preserve the medieval-looking image of the city. Of course, not every stone in Bruges has come to us straight from the Middle-Ages. The 19th century neo-gothic style is more present than one should think. Because of these 19th century renovations, some critics have put Bruges down as a 'fake' medieval city. Nevertheless, the combination of old, not so old and new fascinates everyone who first sets foot in Bruges

We had the fortune to experience the historical city with authentic transportation. I was together with my girlfriend and all my collegues with their girlfriends or wifes and we had a trip in a horse carriage together with a guide.

Inside the oldest inn - in Brugge. The picture showes one of the Leuven stowe. This was the traditional center piece in any house in the old days.
The coachman and the guide took us along Bruges' most beautiful places and we were given a enormous amount of information about all the buildings and places on the tour. We had a 3 hours exploration with horse and carriage.

One of the this that you cannot avoid to see here is the Gods houses or Almshouses. Brugges counts with a total of 46 almshouses in the city centre. These houses, small and white, with the name of the founder painted on the facade, where build out of social consideration from the 14th century on. They were mainly destined for seniors and people from a determined trade. In later times they were also for single women or widows. These white almshouses were built by rich families so single women had a place to stay. There was a condition though. In return for the use of these houses these women had to pray for the rich family every day. You might even say that these rich families bought their way in to heaven.

 

The almshouses were built around an interior garden or in a long row along the street.

The bar at the oldest inn
Sometimes they also had their own chapel. As previously mencioned, they were built as social service, but also out of charity. Many of the houses don’t have window towards the streets since you had to pay tax for each window towards the street.  Today most of these houses are still seniors' residences and are of Social Services' management. Some of these houses received a new function: the almshouses in the balstreet are now the museum of Folklore. The used to be occupied by the shoemaker trade. The youngest almshouse was built in the 20th century in 1959. It's located on the Blankenbergse Steenweg, not in the city centre.

 

Another pleasant place is the The beguinage of Brugge, Ten Wijngaard, which dates back to the 13th century.

Streets of Brugge
The earliest proof of the convent is before 1244, the year in which the bishop of Doornik granted the beguinage the statute of independent parish. A year later the beguines could have their own church built. Since 1299 the site didn't even belong to city territory. Then King Filips IV placed it directly under the command of the sovereign. This explains also why the Beguinage carries the title 'Princely Beguinage'
. For many centuries now the function of the institution remains the same, namely a place of reflection and peace. Today the beguinage is also a touristic attraction. The buildings you will behold are unfortunately not from the Middle Ages. The current complex is mainly from the 17th century

 

Since the 18th century more and more people have been coming to Bruges for leisure.

Streets and the canals of Brugge
You may call it a first wave of tourism. It was already then the city council decided to ban modern buildings from the city centre with the goal of preserving the historical glory. That is the reason why certain styles from the 19th and 20th century will not be found.

 

As much is strived for the preservation of the historical character of the city, as much is being done to maintain nature in Bruges' city centre. As early as the 18th century the city ramparts were transformed into a pittoresk green belt with nice and quiet promenade walks. City Parks were laid out to give the beautiful swans a good home and where festivals and events now can be organized.

 

Bruges is surrounded by nature, as a result of history, which is very special.

Wonderful view
Medieval cities needed to be fortified and defended, what was achieved by ramparts around the city. They were created by walling the city and digging a canal. Evidence of this is the current canal, the remaining city gates and the current promenade walks along the canal. They are the result of our succesors' efforts in the second half of the 19th century.

 

Bruges boasts several well maintained city parks. These city parks each have their own history. They are the favorite havens of migratory birds and of course of Bruges' swans. The swans are totally holy for the citicans ��" when the bird flu hit Europe these birds were kept indoor. Brugges' residence also like to reside to the city parks. Keeping nature in the city centre is always an item on the city council's to-do list.

 

The city parks in the city centre of bruges are also used as scene for several festivals.

Beautiful houses everywhere
'Feest in't park' (celebrations in the park) uses several city parks, Klinkers annually descends in the Astridpark for the open air film, as well as for Benenwerk and the Minnewater (lake of love) is used each year for the Cactus Festival.

 

 

Brugges is also home to contemporary culture, such as the new Concert Hall, which is one of the most prominent music complexes in Flanders, it is a rich city in every meaning of the word. During 2002 the residents of Bruges boasted the heritage, culture, history and art-historical patrimonium, celebrating the title 'Cultural Capital of Europe'. Because of the long history there is much to tell about Bruges and its famous inhabitants like Jan Breydel, Pieter De Coninck, Jan van Eyck, Simon Stevin,... It will thus not amaze that tourism-rates are high. Tourists are being treated to breathtaking monuments, informative and interesting museums, city tours in horse carriages, boat tours on the famous canals of Bruges and a web of little streets to wander about.

Streets and the canals of Brugge

 

 

Chokk says:
You should also check out Gent which is a wonderful town too - how much time do you have ?
Posted on: Nov 07, 2011
sweetsummerdaiz says:
This particular blog is very helpful for me. I am considering heading to Brussels and Brugge in January or March - glad to hear it is still so beautiful even in Winter.
Posted on: Nov 07, 2011
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Windmill on the city wall around t…
Windmill on the city wall around …
Our horse carriage seen from the w…
Our horse carriage seen from the …
The Alms houses. This street is fo…
The Alms houses. This street is f…
Inside the oldest inn - in Brugge.…
Inside the oldest inn - in Brugge…
The bar at the oldest inn
The bar at the oldest inn
Streets of Brugge
Streets of Brugge
Streets and the canals of Brugge
Streets and the canals of Brugge
Wonderful view
Wonderful view
Beautiful houses everywhere
Beautiful houses everywhere
Streets and the canals of Brugge
Streets and the canals of Brugge
The house that are leaning forward…
The house that are leaning forwar…
One of many towers in Brugge. A to…
One of many towers in Brugge. A t…
Inside a monastary
Inside a monastary
Inside a monastary
Inside a monastary
A part of the ceiling in the first…
A part of the ceiling in the firs…
Inside a monastary
Inside a monastary
The well for the horses of the cit…
The well for the horses of the ci…
Qiuet and nice
Qiuet and nice
The Famous swanes of Brugge
The Famous swanes of Brugge
The wind coming straight from the …
The wind coming straight from the…
One of the last 17 sisters
One of the last 17 sisters
Two of the sisters from the Beguin…
Two of the sisters from the Begui…
Evening in Brugge
Evening in Brugge
Evening at the town Sq
Evening at the town Sq
Evening at the town Sq
Evening at the town Sq
Another two sisters from the Begui…
Another two sisters from the Begu…
The view from the top of the Zot b…
The view from the top of the Zot …
The view from the top of the Zot b…
The view from the top of the Zot …
The view from the top of the Zot b…
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Brugge
photo by: Chokk