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Bruges Info

Bruges is Belgium's most beautiful city

The Historic Town of Bruges is testimony, over a long period, of a considerable exchange of influences on the development of architecture, particularly in brick Gothic, as well as favouring innovative artistic influences in the development of medieval painting, being the birthplace of the school of the Flemish Primitives. The Historic Town of Bruges is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble, illustrating significant stages in the commercial and cultural fields in medieval Europe, of which the public, social, and religious institutions are a living testimony. The town of Bruges has been the birthplace of the Flemish Primitives and a centre of patronage and development of painting in the Middle Ages with artists such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.

Bruges 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. As one of the commercial and cultural capitals of Europe, Bruges developed cultural links to different parts of the world. It is closely associated with the school of Flemish Primitive painting.

Canals and waterways meander under humpbacked bridges and through winding streets of gabled houses to make up the delightful city of Bruges.
Bruges has taken centuries in the making so a visit should not be rushed. Stroll through the cobbled streets and grand squares, pausing to glance into the shops of antique treasures. Or enjoy a leisurely view of this beautiful city with a canal cruise. What better way to get away from it all than gliding down the tranquil waterways of Bruges?


A cruise along the canals, locally known as the Reien, allows you to see all the most beautiful spots in the heart of the city. As you meander along the canals, stand on a bridge and listen to the same anecdotes as guides on tourist boats indicate nearby points of interest. A boat trip, though, will give you the best view of Bruges' weathered facades.

Alternatively you can let a horse-drawn carriage take you around the sights. A romantic and individual tour in the heart of Bruges' medieval centre along the canals, over the typical small bridges on the rhythm of the horse's trot. The coach-driver explains the city to you, and halfway the trip, the horse is getting a rest at the Beguinage where you can descend. A typical way to discover the real Bruges, where you see picturesque corners, several famous museums and most of the historical sites. The carriages mostly drive to the Beguinage. In function of the traffic situation the coach driver can show you also the St-Anne neighbourhood with the windmills. In July and August, when the weather is fine, a late-night trip shows you the romantic illuminated city.

The Markt, Bruges' main square, and the nearby square known as the Burg form the centre of the city. The fine buildings surrounding the Markt with their magnificent facades make this a truly grand place.

The walls of the Gothic Town Hall decorated with large neo-Gothic wall-paintings evoking the milestones in the history of Bruges: the triumphant return of the Flemings from the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302

The most impressive building is The Belfry with its fine carillon. Its tower soars high above the city, climb to the top of the 249ft tower to see spectacular views of the city and surrounding areas.
It's worth climbing the 366 steps to the top of the 13th-century Belfry at Bruges to look down on the network of canals that weaves past rows of russet- and beige-colored houses. Beside them, the parasols of pavement cafes add circles of bolder, brighter colour. The effect is dizzying. Whether or not you've got a head for heights, you can't help but fall under the spell of medieval Bruges. In the main square, the Markt, you'll also see a 19th- century monument to two freedom fighters, Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. They led the 1302 revolt against the French in the Battle of the Golden Spurs.

Belgium's oldest town hall is in another square, the Burg. The original facade, painted by Jan van Eyck, was destroyed at the end of the 18th century but the turrets and narrow windows still display a proud dignity. The Burg Square is encircled by very fine buildings such as the Old Law Courts, the Old Recorder's House, the Town Hall and the Basilica of the Holy Blood said to contain the blood of Christ. You will also find the Tourist Office on this Square.

On the trail of more treasure, make for the Church of Our Lady. Here you'll find the only work of Michelangelo to leave Italy in his lifetime. The exquisite Madonna and Child, carved from a single block of white marble, was brought to Bruges because the cathedral in Siena, for which it was intended, couldn't pay. We can admire it today, without cost. But there is a charge to see the fantastically decorated Renaissance tombs of Mary of Burgundy and her father, Charles the Bold.

The Lace Centre comprises a museum and workshop where the lace-makers can be watched at work. Bruges also has a dazzling new diamond museum. It is located in a restored 17th Century mansion and includes an exhibition and diamond polishing demonstrations in the medieval cellar.

A visit to Bruges would not be complete without a walk to the Minnewater, known as the Lake of Love. From here it's only a short walk to the secluded Beguinage, where Benedictine nuns live in tidy white houses set around a neat little green. Despite being a popular tourist attraction, the nuns continue a life of quiet work and meditation. One of the houses, is open to the public. It celebrates the work of the Beguine convent that was established on this spot in 1245 and also provided a refuge for unmarried ladies - who were then relegated to a demure existence of looking after the sick and making lace. After this, get a taste of an other side of Bruges life and make for the nearby brewery of Straffe Hendrik, to the east of Beguinage. Here you can take a tour of the works and sip a sample or two of the products.

Wining and Dining

Bruges offers an outstanding choice of eateries from 5 star temples to attractive little bistros as well as the heated terraces of the cafes which make outdoor dining possible whatever the weather. Something for all tastes and all pockets. Try Belgian chips, traditionally served with mayonnaise which are available from stalls at the Market Square. For those of you who would like to know more about the tradition of Belgian beer pay a visit to the Malt house and Brewery Museum or the Straffe Hendrik' family brewery where on your guided tour you can enjoy a panoramic view of Bruges and after the tour you are invited to taste (open daily all year). The cafes and bars of Bruges are world famous. Two hundred different beers can be found in the town.

St John Altarpiece 1474-79 Oil on oak panel, 176 x 78,9 cm Memlingmuseum. The left wing features the Beheading of St John the Baptist.

Immeasurable Charm

You are unlikely to tire of Bruges no matter how long you stay. The immeasurable charm of its beautiful historic buildings, its picturesque bridges and patrician family dwellings draw tourists from all over the world. Come to Bruges in the summer months, especially at the weekends and the town is alive with every imaginable nationality. Bars and restaurants team with young and old - there is a happy and safe atmosphere. But come out of season, particularly midweek and share Bruges quietly with its proud inhabitants.

An Excellent Location

Bruges is ideally situated for visiting other places of interest. Within 25 minutes by rail or by car you can be on the Belgian seaside resorts, notably Knokke and Ostend or you can drive to the elegant city of Ghent. An hour by train will see you in the capital Brussels for a day's shopping or sightseeing. Amsterdam and Paris are both two and a half hours away by rail.Ypres is situated approx. 40 km from Bruges and can easily be reached by car over the country-roads. You can also book a organized excursion to Ypres by minibus. Take the paddle steamer along the tree-lined canal to the picturesque village of Damme, renowned for its restaurants, antique and bookshops. Located between Bruges and Damme, surrounded by grasslands, lies the Damme Golf Club. The 18 holes golf course offers many natural obstacles and is a fascinating challenge for every golf player.

Shopping and musea

Browse through the markets on the canal side Dyver (Saturday and Sunday afternoons March - October), on the Market Square (Markt) on Wednesday morning and on the spacious t' Zand square (Saturday morning only). You can shop for lace and chocolates but there are department stores and many chic boutiques with designer goods from Paris and New York too. Art and Culture Bruges has many museums. The Groeninge Museum where you can view important paintings by eminent Flemish artists such as Jan Van Eyck and Hugo Van der Goes, as well as more contemporary artists. On the opposite side of the street stands the Gruuthusemuseum which houses a collection of antiques and applied art, furniture, earthenware, silverware, lace and coins. The Memling Museum has on view six exquisite masterpieces by Hans Memling.

Winter and Christmas in Bruges

Capture the quiet charm of Bruges in Winter to really get the feel of the city and its people. Christmas is the time of special Christmas markets in Bruges. Christmas Concerts and Christmas spirit is felt everywhere. The town becomes very quiet on Christmas Eve as everyone gets ready for the night's celebrations. There is a Christmas Market and ice-skating on the Market Square.

Special Events

Weekends are filled with regular 'Carillon' (bell ringing) concerts and musical performances on Burg Square. Sightseeing tours by horse-drawn carriage, canal boat or mini-bus offer welcome respite. Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours, daily departures from Market Square. Carriages depart on demand and not at specific times. See the sights on a canal cruise Family Fun Bruges' leisure park is the Boudewijnpark on the outskirts of the city. The main attraction is the exciting dolphinarium where spectacular shows are held from March - October. There are also fun-fair rides, an Olympic Ice Rink where shows are held from May - August.

Getting About

Compact and pedestrian-friendly, Bruges is best explored on foot or bicycle. If by foot take comfortable shoes as many of the streets are cobbled. Bicycles take priority in Bruges so if traveling by car we recommend that you leave your car in one of the many secure public car parks in the city centre. Captivated by a place picturesque on every side, you'll inevitably want to return.


Bruges is well-situated for weekend breaks from Britain, and is especially attractive right now - partly because the first autumnal chills help to diminish the summer rush of visitors, and partly because fares to Belgium are entertainingly low.

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