Remarkably well-preserved and wonderfully beautiful, Brugge is the top tourist destination in Belgium for good reason. Found in the northwest part of Belgium, Brugge is home to around 120,000 people, and it is both the capital and largest city of the West Flanders province. Once one of Europe’s wealthiest cities, Brugge boasts a wonderful mix of architectural styles, with Gothic being dominant, which makes Brugge tours a visual delight. Brugge Belgium residents are proud of their hometown, and chances are good that upon your visit here, you’ll be wishing you were one of them. Often referred to as “The Venice of the North,” Brugge is full of canals, which complement the narrow city streets. An attractive city with a lot to enjoy, Brugge is calling all travelers, so toss it on your Belgium itinerary, and see what all the fuss is about. An hour-long ride on a comfortable Belgian train can get you from Brussels to Brugge, and it’s only 30 minutes by rail from Ghent. Come summertime in Brugge, trips to one of the nearby Belgian beach communities are certainly recommended, as it’s just a 15 minute trip to Knokke or Ostend.
Brugge Belgium, or Bruges Belgium as it is known to non Flemish-speakers, is quite akin to a time warp in that its old city retains most of its medieval architecture. The old center of town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is a most ideal place for walking tours—just be sure to bring some comfortable shoes for the cobblestone streets. During the twelfth century that Brugge began to truly grow in importance, and the dynamic period between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries is known as the city’s “Golden Age.” By the sixteenth century, Brugge Belgium was beginning to experience a decline, much of which was the result of Antwerp replacing it as the new economic powerhouse in western Europe. Attempts were made in subsequent centuries to bring glory back to Brugge, but the city only fell more by the wayside, which was a sort of blessing in disguise. This helped the city to avoid the wars and destruction that so many other European cities fell prey to.
By the latter part of the 1800s, the Brugge attractions were starting to generate foreign interest, and Brugge travel started to become rather vogue with wealthy British and French tourists. Ever since then, Brugge travel has only increased, and today it is a tourism Mecca. Thankfully, the Brugge residents are happy to share their city with visitors. You can bet that they understand the desire that foreigners have to visit their cherished home. Sure, it gets pretty packed here in the summertime, but with a destination as fabulous as this crowds are just part of the territory. Many visitors enjoying a Brugge vacation will start their tours in the heart, or hearts, of the city. Two monumental squares make up the center of town. They are named the Burg and the Markt. Narrow medieval streets branch out from both squares.
The Burg is a delight for anyone who appreciates different forms of architecture, and it is here where the city of Brugge grew up around a fortified castle. Not much remains of the original castle, but you will likely be impressed by the Renaissance facade of the Old Civic Registry. The baroque splendor of the Provost’s House is also striking. The Markt is also of considerable interest before you head on to some of the other great Brugge attractions, most of the best of which are just a five to ten minute walk away. In the center of this square is a sculpture that honors Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, who are Flemish heroes from the fourteenth century. The Markt is also where you will find the famed Belfry and Market Halls. The Belfry tower rises some 270 feet into the sky, and the 47-bell carillon at the top of it chimes with regularity, especially on summer days. The lower section of the Belfry was built in the thirteenth century, while the upper reaches were added in both the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Climb the 366 steps to the top, and you’ll enjoy some fantastic panoramic views of the city below.
Built between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Church of Our Lady is another one of the Brugge attractions that you won’t want to miss when enjoying a Brugge vacation. It’s definitely featured on most Brugge tours, as inside it is a marble sculpture by one Michelangelo. This sculpture, which depicts the Madonna and Child (the Virgin Mary and Jesus), is quite special. No other work by the grand Italian artist ever left Italy during his lifetime, and to this day, it is rare to find one of his works outside of his home country. After you enjoy one or more Brugge tours and do some city sightseeing, you might consider hitting the Groeninge Museum for a wonderful display of Low Countries art. The works here date from between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries, and among them are works by such artistic luminaries as Jan van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch, and Hans Memling.
For a change of pace when it comes to Brugge travel, drop by one of the city’s parks or gardens. A few blocks south of the Burg is the Queen Astrid Park, which is a great place to escape for a while, and the Lake of Love is also a tranquil spot. Found to the south of the city center where a canal funnels into it, this peaceful lake borders the historic Begijnhof, and another excellent park. The Begijnhof is one of various Flemish begijnhofen, which were convents of sorts for religious women who were akin to nuns in many ways. For those interested in Belgian biking, pedaling along the canals during your Brugge vacation is always a good idea when looking to unwind. When enjoying all that Brugge travel has to offer, you’re bound to get hungry, and thankfully, the Brugge restaurants are plentiful. There are also plenty of Brugge hotels to choose from, which helps to make Brugge travel so divine.