Bruges is an historic city located in the West Flanders region of Belgium. It is one of the best preserved and most beautiful medieval cities in Europe. With a population of 255,000 as of 2008, Bruges has a significant economic importance, especially due to its strategic port. In fact, at one time Bruges was known as the “chief commercial city” of the world.
Bruges is a city of canals, and is sometimes referred to as “the Venice of the North”. There are many crisscrossing canals lined with cobbled streets and pretty gabled houses in Bruges, as well as the more stately and architecturally diverse large buildings lining the canals.
The city’s most famous landmark is the 13th century belfry, which houses a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells. The city still employs a full-time bell-ringer who gives free concerts on a regular basis. Another building that Bruges is famous for is the medieval Church of our Lady, which has the highest brick tower in Europe, one of the world’s highest brick towers. It also houses the Michelangelo sculpture Madonna and Child, which is believed to be the only sculpture that left Italy within Michelangelo’s lifetime.
Another of the city’s famous churches is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which is said to house a phial containing the blood of Christ. Another site to be seen and toured is the Groeninge Museum, with its displays of Flemish and Belgian paintings covering six centuries. Included are works by Jan Van Eyck and Hans Memling.
Be sure to visit the Market Place, and by all means sample some of Bruges’ delicacies such as chocolate, Moules frites and the famous Bruges beer, of which there are more than 350 varieties. One thing you don’t want to miss above all is a canal trip, of which there are many tours to choose from.