Cosa vedere a Bruges

What to see in Bruges, the guide of the Princess of Flanders

Of places compared to Venice there are too many in the world. And there are very few cities that hold up the comparison. Yet when they say that Bruges is Venice of the North the usual heresy is not said. Not because the two cities are similar. They are not, in fact. But why also Bruges is splendid: and hers fairytale architecture, the magical atmosphere, the palette of its colors that can be so dark but at the same time so bright make it a special place. Just like Venice is special. So our attempt to tell what to see in Bruges will not start from similarities but from differences.

On the other hand the old city of Bruges declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is a medieval masterpiece, a kind of living and vibrant open-air museum where visitors can experience the feeling of being immersed in history and Flemish tradition. Between art, culture and food of this flat and beautiful region.

What to see in Bruges: an open-air museum

So much beauty it is obvious that you pay for. And if you come up here curious about what to see in Bruges, know that you will not be alone: ​​you will find many around tourists as you recalled by this little gem (which you can walk around) where romance is at home. Other than that you pay with high prices (you could say, Venetians): those who love the good table he will be struck by the bills of good restaurants and this is a bit of a sign that Bruges has been partly a victim of its fame.

House prices in the old town have jumped beyond the reach of most locals’ pockets so many of the quaint houses overlooking the canals they have become rental houses for foreigners or hotels. The result is that at certain times, when the season is low, you may find a vague feeling of being in an uninhabited place, at least outside the busiest hours. But that’s not bad: the list of what to see in Bruges gets even longer when the only noise is that of our shoes on the old stones of the center.

Let’s start with the main pizza

If you want a starting point for the discovery of what to see in Bruges you can’t help but start from the central square, the Grote Marktthe heart of the city from before the year 1000. Here are the palaces main, the long theory of coffee where to drink one beerthe headquarters of the old corporations and the tower Belfort: a view from above must not be missing to embrace the city with a glance. Then if you want to get off and treat yourself to a tour of the canals. From above and below it matters little: the emotion is the same.

If you are not tired then try the stranger museums: that of beer, of chocolate or French fries. Here, making them better than elsewhere is a point of honor. Let’s just taste. And to prepare us to walk in time.

What to see in Bruges

What to see in Bruges: the symbolic bell tower of the city

The southern side of the Grote Markt of Bruges is dominated by the Belfort, the most characteristic landmark of Bruges. The tower soars above the covered market which was housed in a beautiful building which in turn encloses a picturesque courtyard while the balcony of the facade was once used for reading the edicts before the assembled citizens.

The entrance to the bell tower is in the courtyard and you can climb up to the top of this tower that once was begun in 1282 and finished only in 1482. At the top there is a music box of bells still ringing. We said that you can go up: it is true but take into account 366 steps particularly uncomfortable and steep but the view from the top is priceless. Going up, you can also make a stop in the ancient Hall of the Treasury where ancient civic documents have been preserved.

What to see in Bruges

The basilica of the blood of Christ

Did we find out what to see in Bruges from above? Now let’s go back down and aim for the Basilica of the Holy Blood which is located in the square known as Burg. The name, and the religious value of the Basilica is given by the fact that an ampoule is kept here in which it is said that a drop of the blood of Christ reported from the Holy Land by Dietrich of Alsace in 1149 on his return from the Second Crusade.

Each year, in May, this relic is carried through the streets of Bruges in procession. An elegant spiral staircase inside the church leads to the upper chapel (built in 1480) where every Friday the vial containing the relic is shown to the faithful. The church in reality, apart from holy blood, is a curious mix: the facade was erected between 1529 and 1534 on the basis of a lower Romanesque chapel which is inserted into a late Gothic chapel which houses the relics of San Basilio.

What to see in Bruges

The buildings that look like lace

But let’s retrace our steps and dive back into the heart of the city: in the Piazza del Grote Markt. The large space is surrounded by a lace of cute and unique buildings built at different times. The eastern side, for example, is dominated by a building neo-gothic which dates back to 1887 and is the seat of the provincial government of West Flanders.

On the western side, however, in the corner stands the 15th-century brick palace known as Huis Bouchoute. On the opposite corner stands the Craenenburg where, in 1488, the citizens of Bruges imprisoned the emperor Maximilian for 11 weeks. He was released only after agreeing to respect the authority of the Regent Council local and after ordering the withdrawal of all foreign troops. The best way to admire this whole set of buildings is to sit in one of the many cafes and fill your eyes with beauty. The waiters will fill your glass with beer.

Museums and canals. And a lot of atmosphere

After a pleasant refreshing stop for a drink beer of the Trappist friars we continue the walk that allows you to discover what to see in Bruges: take a break to visit it Stadhuisor the town hall, built between 1376 and 1420, and the large Gothic hall on the first floor with its splendid wooden vault and then point to Groeninge Museum. To visit it, head to the Dijver canal and take some time to visit the best art collection in Bruges.

In addition to the excellent collection of old Flemish paintings, the museum also includes a modern art gallery and a splendid collection of views of the city of Bruges in the past. However, the first five rooms are the ones not to be missed with the great works of Jan van Eyck, Luis Gruuthuse but above all for an extraordinary canvas of Hieronymus Bosch.

Do you want more? Then we continue towards the church of Our Lady (if you prefer Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk) which with its 122-meter tower is the highest in Belgium after actually that of the Cathedral of Antwerp. If outside it is imposing inside it is a treasure chest including a statue by Michelangelo of the Madonna and Child in the chapel at the end of the southern nave. And if it’s the art you love, don’t miss the Memling museum which houses six masterpieces by Hans Memling (circa 1430-94); and each is truly one of the pearls of Flemish art from the period included in the second half of the 1400s.

What to see in Bruges

What to see in Bruges: the beguinage

One of the things not to miss in Bruges is the beguinage which dates back, as origin, to 1245, and is one of the best preserved in the country. Now, most of the buildings don’t go back that far but the structure is still original and the atmosphere is unique. A beguinage was formerly a community of women who lived in poverty and respecting precise rules: they were not real nuns but not even lay people, in short, even if they could leave the community at any time.

The latest beguine it left these spaces in 1927 and is now home to Benedictine nuns. It is a space where silence and harmony reign and the perfect place to be quiet, reflecting or just enjoying the beauty around its white houses lined up around a grassy court and shaded in the center of which there is a church founded in 1245 and restored in 1605. One of the old houses has been converted into the museum of Begijnhof and allows you to understand how they lived and what the time and work was in the life of the beguines.

What to see in Bruges

What to see in Bruges: walking among the canals

We talked about churches, palaces and museums. But to really understand what to see in Bruges it is necessary to add a fundamental ingredient: i channels. If the city is in fact compared to Venice it is due to the dense network of waterways and canals that cross it and which were once the routes used for goods and trade.
For those who want to walk along the most beautiful internal canals we recommend a walk of just under three kmstarting from the square Zand and ending at Bonifacius bridgenear the church of Our Lady.

This is a very pleasant walk that leads along the most beautiful streets and the most romantic corners allowing you to discover the old bridges of the city. Put on comfortable shoes and bring your camera with you. One of the unmissable corners, and one of the most photographed in Belgium, is the point where the canals intersect Groenerei and Dijver. This point, called in the difficult local language, Rozenhoedkaaiwas a mooring point for ships in the late Middle Ages and the place where the salt merchants unloaded their wares.

The guilds and their palaces

It was no coincidence that it was called the Bring some salt. Many depart from here today boat excursions and not far away there is also an interesting flea market during the weekend from March to October. Then you arrive at the Piazza dei Conciatori which is just around the corner: more than a square it looks like an elegant room and in the past it housed the Guild of Tanners leather made. Now here are many star hotels and elegant restaurants. This square is located next to the Fish market (i.e. the Vismarkt). Even today people come here to buy fresh fish every morning from Tuesday to Saturday while around there are painters who paint. They will not be masterpieces but you can still say you have a Flemish painting. And then the same Bruges it is a painting. So big that no museum can contain it.

What to see in Bruges

What to see in Bruges and how to get there

Bruges is easily accessible: you can arrive at the airport of Brussels and then continue by train. The station is close enough to the center and you can take a walk. With a train journey of about an hour and a half you can reach Antwerp; Gent instead it is only half an hour as well as Ostend. The journey to Brussels is a little longer.

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