Bruges – The Bridge City Adventure

Bruges, the largest canal-based city of the province of West Flanders, in the Flemish Region of Belgium, a World Heritage Site of UNESCO since 2000, is one of the most historical significant cities in Europe.

City Gates

City Gates

Short History

With a name deriving from Dutch, Bruges is known as Brugghe (meaning “bridge“).

The city had various names though the time, starting from Bruggas, Brvggas, Brvccia to Bruciam, Bruociam, Bruggis, BricgeBrugensis, Brugias, BrugesBruggas, Brugis, and finally Brugge, since the year of 1116.

The first fortifications of the city were built by Julius Caesar in order to protect the coastal area against pirates. With a strategic position, Bruges soon became a gateway to The Amber Road, an important trading route, and was quickly known as the “chief commercial city” of the world.

With an impressive wool and cloth market and various grains and wines brought into the city by the English, Bruges developed in the 14th century to become the most sophisticated money market of the Low Countries, attracting a large number of artists and bankers from all over Europe. With oil painting and lace industry taking off, the city blossomed, until its fall, after the modernization of trading routes, in the 1700’s, when the city dropped in importance.

With most of its medieval architecture intact, Bruges is the perfect place for experiencing the exchange of influences on the development of architecture.

Bruges medieval cathedrals

St. Salvator’s Cathedral , The Belfry and The Church of Our Lady

Grote Markt, an area of about 1 hectare, is located in the medieval heart of the city, dominated by the 83 meter high Belfry tower. The cloth hall and tower, date all the way back to 1240, but they were rebuilt after the fire which destroyed them, in 1280. The tower used to be the location were all the important documents of the city were preserved, but it was also used at a watchtower. With a large number of bells, each having a distinct sound and function, the tower warns people against danger, indicated the time and also announces important events.

In the center of the market stands the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, honoring the two leaders of the “Battle of the Golden Spurs” which took place in the 1302, when the Flemish raised against the occupation of the French king.

 Grote Markt

Grote Markt

The Provincial Court, located in the Grote Markt, is built on the site were the medieval “water halls” were located (covered halls where the ships could unload their cargo for storage or to sell).

DSC_5848

Provincial Court

Because the Flemish coastline was constantly flooded by the Northern Sea, the city was moved inland and the water canals were built as a network which enabled traders to bring their goods to the Water Halls, situated in the Grote Markt.

Bruges  bridges water canals

Bruges Water Canal Bridges

Nowadays, the water canals aren’t used by ships anymore, but only by tourist boats.

With a perfect blend of rich history, medieval constructions, water canals and bridges, Bruges is probably one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium.


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39 thoughts on “Bruges – The Bridge City Adventure

  1. Oh, I see in your photographs that it’s a picturesque city with beautiful towers, filled with a long history. Shame on me, I only new about Bruges just because it’s mentioned as the city where Dr. Evil, from Austin Powers’ movies, born :S

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your lovely comment! It’s definitely a beautiful city. I first found out about it half a year ago, when I saw a few pictures with some of the most beautiful cities in the world. Since then, I wanted to visit it 🙂 I was expecting a bit more water canals, but the medieval constructions and the overall atmosphere were amazing, so I enjoyed it a lot. I hope you’ll get to visit it one day 🙂 I’m sure you will enjoy it. Have a lovely day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Belgium and had no idea Bruges was so beautiful. Especially the architecture is fantastic in your pictures! And those two towers forming the city gates, stunning! The creators of Lego must have gotten some of their inspiration from here! 🙂 The houses along the water canals also so beautiful. How big a city is Bruges?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by. I’m happy to know you enjoyed the pictures. Yes, the city gates are absolutely amazing. They make you feel like royalty when crossing into the city hah 🙂 From what I read about Bruges, it’s quite a small city, of about 430 hectares with around 20,000 living in the city centre, and over 100,000 total population. It has quite a nice atmosphere and the buildings are amazing to see. I also love its history, especially of the water halls. I’m sure it was impressive to see ships unload their cargo exactly in the Grote Markt 🙂 I hope you’ll get to see it soon. I’m sure you will enjoy it a lot. Have a lovely day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great, Sarah! I’m sure you will enjoy it a lot! It’s definitely amazing to see, especially if you like medieval buildings. It has such a long and beautiful history! Have a lovely day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I must say, the first time I heard about it is only half a year ago, so I was also surprised I missed on seeing such a beautiful city. I also enjoy places with a lot of history and water canals, and as Bruges has both, it was definitely beautiful to walk around for a bit 🙂
      I hope you can make it there soon. I’m sure you would have a great time! Have a lovely day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • This is the city I visited last weekend, briefly 🙂 I was in the area, so, why not? I heard it’s beautiful, so I’ve decided to take a detour. Very much worth it. I love the old buildings and water canals.
      Thank you for your love comment! Have a great day, Johanna! xo

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ma bucur sa aud asta 🙂 Este un oras foarte frumos. Cladirile medievale sunt incredibile si foarte ingrijite. Sper sa il revad curand. Iti doresc o zi placuta!

      Like

  3. Indeed, it is the rich history that defines the power of any city and Bruges with such long history on record depicts so many facets of the evolution of the civilization. How the commercial trading was taking places in medieval days and how the beautiful architecture are still intact and reminds us of the work that had gone in. Yes, it is the water whether river or canals have always facilitated the development of any city and it has been the connecting link between different part of the civilization…nostalgic and beautiful pictures.
    Lovely weekend…
    😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Nihar! Indeed, the water canals, the sea and rivers got the world going, not very long ago. Civilization was built gradually, thanks to the commercial trading routes.
      I love to visit such places, with a rich history and gorgeous buildings from the past. Nothing like a short trip back in time 🙂 I hope you will get to visit it one day. I’m sure you will enjoy it just as much as I did.
      Have a lovely weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is always a lovely feeling to explore such places of historical significance…it is indeed a long trip back the memory lane human history and it is exciting to know the people lived then and how was the life, the curiosity to know more about the past is there with all of us, it gets ignited when we visit such places.
        Yes, will keep in my agenda and if I go I will definitely share my thoughts and read your post once more before I go…
        Looking forward to your next post.
        Have a lovely weekend…
        😀

        Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately the large number of tourists tend to take away the charm of any city we visit, and the location transforms completely, trying to attract more people.
      I took some trips during winter, and others during summer, and I must say I enjoyed the cities much better when less people were around.
      Bruges was quite pleasant during this time of the year though. Not very busy. I love the old buildings! So much history in one location 🙂
      Thank you for stopping by! Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Indah! I’m happy I could bring back some good memories 🙂 I had a lovely time, looking at all the old buildings. So much work was put into building them, and also into keeping them nice. Only thinking the bricks were manually made, and stacked… Amazing! Have a great day! ❤

      Like

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