The main market square in Brugge
Brugge - surely one of Europe's bona fide tourist magnets, and a must see for anyone keen on medieval architecture? Well yes, if you are not put off by the throngs of tourists and relatively high prices, this compact town must surely rank in the top 3 of any visitor to Belgium's itinerary. So what is it precisely that constitutes the city's main draw cards, and why is the place held in such high esteem? Well, to put it mildly, Brugge is a tourist magnet of sizeable proportions, and never really fails to attract visitors in most seasons, but essentially, the city is an enclave of medieval-style architecture and a walkable, manageable town which perhaps only comes close to testing any visitor's patience level when its streets are too chock-full of tourists to enjoy its full flavour.
Gateway to Brugge over the city's surrounding canal
In essence, the town is sufficiently low-key for it to be considered a liveable and tranquil place, and its main square contains a sufficient number of examples of typical Belgian architecture to keep the tourist planted firmly on the spot at least until the realization dawns upon them that this is a town so full of like-minded building styles, that it really does pay to wander free, and take in as many sights as time permits. Brugge is almost entirely surrounded by waterways, that the oval-shaped city area which the surrounding canal creates really does separate the crop of attractions from the residential and / or commercial area surrounding the town. For the most part, churches and museums are the order of the day here, and typically Belgian products such as chocolate and diamonds are well-represented on the museum front here.
One of the few windmills in Brugge
Perhaps more associated with the neighbouring Netherlands, the town's north-eastern corner has a few windmills dotted here and there, and their very existance is perhaps one of the reasons why it can pay, in a city of this nature, to stray away from more central areas in order to sample the charms of the town's outlying regions. For my money though, the town's real star turn comes in the shape of the town's castle and immediately surrounding area, and is an immaculately-preserved piece of Belgian history which gleams down upon its visitors with its seductive appeal seeking to grab you by the lapels and really demand your attention. Shunning the prospect of seeing Brugge on a canal cruise, I departed the city from the main station in the direction of Ghent
, and felt that, although a mere half a day in Brugge really only constituted a flash visit, there were more than enough sights to keep my finger almost glued to the camera button, and my attention span sufficiently held in place from start to finish. Nightlife may be low-key, prices may be on the high side, and truth to tell, despite the obvious charms, this town might not even have universal appeal, but this is one tourist spot which earns its stripes through sheer dint of the very nature of its existance.