City with a preserved glory
Bruges part one
Moving around Bruges is like walking in a city where time has ceased to exist. All around you see these beautiful buildings from the middle ages, romantic, renaissance and baroque, all at once. And there are very few disturbing modern elements, the entire city center is a protected world heritage, thank god.
Bruges is really a very old city, its origins are dating back to the time around the birth of Christ. A thousand years later it was a proper city, but its heydays came three hundred years after that, when sailing merchants from Genoa in Italy established a trade route to western Europe via Bruges. Wealth started to flow into the city and many impressive buildings were raised, among them the famous bell tower.
But this success didn’t last long. The canal that allowed ships to enter Bruges from the sea silted up and the trade hub was moved to Antwerp in Holland. Bruges became a backwater town and was preserved in that state, which also helped it keeping its medieval charm. Now of course this fact is what draws hoards of tourists to Bruges, where we today find so many nice hotels and restaurants here.
And there are so many beer joints in Bruges. The Belgians love and cherish their beer traditions and Bruges is no exception. You’ll find a couple of big beer bars here, for instance The Beer Wall that proudly displays hundreds of brands in an outside vitrine. A visitor is recommended to order a test set with different types of beer accompanied with a cheese and charcuteries platter.
The famous Bell Tower, Belfort, is 83 meters tall and iconic to this city. If you’ve seen the movie “In Bruges” you probably remember it. 366 steps leading up to the top, from where you have a gorgeous view of the city.
Going up (or coming down) you pass the Treasure Chamber where the city signet and charters were kept in the middle ages. Chests with many locks are on display here.
The City Hall is also a magnificent building, built in mid-14th century and with a unique ornate facade. Don’t miss the Gothic Hall filled with paintings and sculptures depicting important events in the history of Bruges and the Flandres.
Top five in Bruges:
- To see: The belltower is a must, though it’s an ordeal to climb the 366 steps. But pause on the way up to check some historical artefacts.
- Activity: Boat cruise on the canals with views of the city you can’t get on land. Waterways like in Venice almost…
- Best eating: Den Gouden Harynck was our absolute favourite. But there are a handful other restaurants with Michelin stars.
- Hotel: We stayed at Martin’s Brugge, close to the bell tower and right in the center. A very nice and well liked three-star hotel.
- Beer: The Beer Wall, crowded and noisy, serving an additional free cheese and charcuteries platter. Such a splendid idea it makes you wonder: Why not in my country?