Of all the beautiful places we visited in the Netherlands and Belgium, Bruges was my favorite. Belgium was never on my radar but I think I will have to return.
I loved the scale of Bruges and it has lots of canals and old architecture. The first fortifications were built in the 1st century BC, and the first city charter was in 1128.
These photos were my first impressions of the city.
Like in Amsterdam they have a béguinage, what a peaceful place to live. And like in Amsterdam, the gates are closed at night and only those ladies that live there have a key.
The city has many squares, parks, beautiful buildings, and hidden places….
…. and is well know for it chocolate, lace, and beer.
Bruges has been a center for lace making for hundreds of years. The top two photos are of a large lace map of Bruges that hangs along a canal.
Chocolate shops are everywhere!
There are often large sculptures in the windows made of chocolate, like the monkey, cartoon characters and the unicorn above.
There are 3 breweries in Bruges, and I’ll have to admit I drank more beer on this trip than I have in years, my favorite was the Kriek, made with cherries and other fruits.
There is art on the buildings everywhere and lots of neat wind vanes….
At every turn there was something neat to see…
As far as the language in Belgium, they speak Dutch in the north and French in the south and both in between. Somewhere I read you are better off starting in English if you are not fluent in either language. In Brussels the street signs are in both French and Dutch, but other signs are often in English! As much as I’d like to learn another language I’d really need to decide where I was going to spend the most time to decide what to tackle.
There are a few thing you need to watch out for, the most important is bikes and cars. In the old cities the streets are narrow and especially in Bruges the drivers go fast and don’t automatically stop if they see you at a cross walk, while in most of the other cities they did. And bikes go everywhere not just on the bike lanes so you really need to watch where you step.
Public art is both contemporary and not on the city streets and there is lots of it….
We didn’t get a chance to see the windmills, but there are 4 along the edge of the old city. Originally there were 25 and they date from the 1700s.
This is not my photo but one from Free-City-Guides, just so you can see what they look like – on my list for next time!
As usual there are lots of museums and churches. The museums include (to name a few) Archaeology Museum, The Bruges ‘stadshallen’ and Belfry, Bruges Beer Experience, Choco-Story, The Folklore Museum, and the The Liberty of Bruges.
I did manage to visit a couple of the famous churches in the city. The Basilica of the Holy Blood and The Church of Our Lady.
The Basilica is famous for the vial that is said to contain a cloth with Christs blood on it, and the fact that it is two churches in one. The lower church is Romanesque, and the upper church is Neo-Gothic.
The Church of Our Lady, was just down the street from my hotel, and has an extensive museum. In its collection is Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. They are still uncovering frescos on the walls and ceilings,
The sepulchres and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold are here and painted tombs from the 13th and 14th centuries.
And, as usual, here is my sign collection.
At the southern end of the old city is Minnewater, the Lake of Love. There are over 100 swans that live here and they are taken care of by the city.
As we saw all over Belgium there is a lot of espalier here. If I ever stay home long enough I would like to grow one on the garage side of my house.
My last shot of the city outside my hotel window. As I said I loved everything I saw in Belgium. This post is out of order but I was excited to show how beautiful the city of Bruges is. BTW you will see many ways to spell the name of this city,Bruges, Brugge, Brugges.
I was also in Amsterdam on this trip, you can see photos from that part by clicking here Road Trip Amsterdam.
There are more posts to come about Ghent, Antwerp, and beautiful Brussels.
And since I’m home for a while there will also be posts about ART!!