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Bruges is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in Europe. This is a city-museum, as it contains ancient monuments. Many sights of Bruges are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the XIV-XVI centuries, Bruges was considered the business and cultural center of Europe. What to see in Bruges, you need to decide in advance, because you won’t be able to visit all the sights of this Belgian city in one visit. Here, for the first time, an exchange for trading appeared, oil painting arose, the founder of this painting technique was the artist Van Eyck. Many ancient treasures and shrines are concentrated in this city.
What to see in Bruges in the first place
At your disposal is an overview of the sights, for the sake of which tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world come here every year. Some require guides in Bruges, while others prefer to explore the city on their own. Both options are good in their own way, but with a guide, the tourist does not have to think about organizational nuances.
1. Grote Markt, Market Square
Market Square in Bruges
The central location of the Market Square suggests that in the old days all the main events took place here and there was a brisk trade in goods, as well as administrative buildings. The initial information about the auction dates back to the 10th century. At first, the malls were wooden, then they were replaced with stone ones.
What to visit in Bruges, being on the central square? One of the oldest buildings on the square is Bowhout, located in the western part. It has stained-glass windows of the 15th century and a weather vane made by craftsmen in 1682.
On the eastern side of the square there were covered berths. Then, after a fire, the buildings were demolished, and a group of buildings were erected in their place, where the governor's residence, the courthouse, the Post Office, and the Historium Museum are now located. In the center of the square there is a monument to the heroes of the liberation movement.
In 1995, after restoration work, traffic on cars was prohibited on the Central Square, it became a pedestrian one. Many souvenir shops and shops, small restaurants and cafes are located around the entire perimeter of the square. The market opens on Wednesdays.
Official website: https://www.visitbruges.be/en
2. Church of Our Lady
Church of Our Lady in Bruges
If you don't know what to visit in Bruges, start your tour with a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral (Church of Our Lady). It is a brick tower over 120 meters high with a square base and a 45-meter crown spire. The beginning of the construction of the church dates back to the XII century.
In this landmark of Bruges, you can admire the great work of art – the statue of the Virgin and Child by Michelangelo. This is the only lifetime work of the artist that was taken out of Italy.
Among the relics of the church are sarcophagi with the ashes of Charles the Bold, during whose reign Bruges became a prosperous and rich city, and Mary, his daughter, who tragically died on hunting.
3. Basilica of the Holy Blood
Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges
The Count of Alsace, who lived in the 12th century, owned a two-story chapel built in Bruges. For buildings built in those days, such architecture was considered commonplace. What to see in Bruges if you were on an excursion in the Basilica?
A spiral staircase leads to the second floor, where there is an observation deck, which offers magnificent views of the square and the naves of the church itself. As a rule, this place was intended for the local nobility and aristocracy, and the first floor was for commoners. Initially, the chapel was dedicated to the Greek Saint Basil, whose relics were brought from Jerusalem. Later, after acquiring the relic of the Holy Blood, it was renamed.
The lower chapel consists of 3 naves, on which the upper part of the chapel is built. Stone walls, vaults and pillars are made of limestone quarried in the Eifel. After restoration work, the statue “Jesus on the Cold Stone” and the exposition “Christ in the tomb” were installed in the aisles, which are carried during the procession of the “Holy Blood”. Interesting conclusions were made by scientists when they found statues of the 19th century mounted into the wall, which are a cross and two vessels. Presumably this was done by the Masons during the restoration of the chapel. The cups are a prototype of the Holy Grail, and the fact that the blood of Jesus is kept in the church speaks in favor of this theory.
Official site: http://www.holyblood.com/?lang=en
4. Groeninge Museum
Bruges Municipal Museum of Fine Arts Jennifer Morrow
The founding date of the museum is May 9, 1929, and the opening of the expositions took place in June 1930. During the construction, the measures necessary for displaying and storing museum exhibits, including the air conditioning and lighting system, were thought out and implemented.
The light is directed so as not to create glare when viewing pictures. Collections of paintings are constantly replenished. What to see in Bruges at the Groeninge Museum? With the money of the city authorities, the diptych “Annunciation” was bought, and during the auction, the “Portrait of Paul de Nigro” by the Dutch artist of the 16th century Isenbrant was purchased. Of artistic interest is the collection of old manuscripts, paintings and earthenware donated by Baron Houtgar. In 1955, the exposition was replenished with works from the Gruthuse Museum, one of them is very famous – this is the “Family Portrait” by Nicholas Mass, a student of Rembrandt.
Official website: https://www. visitbruges.be
5. Saint Salvator Cathedral
Panorama of the city with the Cathedral of St. Salvator in Bruges
Many sights of Bruges are closely connected with religious themes. For example, the Cathedral of St. Salvator, located in the central part of the city. Over the course of a number of centuries, the church building was rebuilt and changed its appearance, and in 1834 it received the status of the Cathedral. In the 19th century, the roof collapsed during a fire, the stained-glass windows were destroyed, and the bells were damaged. The architect Chantrell from England was appointed curator of the restoration work. According to his drawings, the tower was rebuilt, the top of which was made in the shape of a crown. In 1871, a copper spire was installed, and new stained-glass windows were obtained in the same period. The walls of the cathedral are decorated with tapestries woven in the 18th century in the manufactories of Brussels and paintings with scenes from the Bible. The attraction of the Cathedral is an old organ, created in 1717, and operating to this day.
Be sure to watch this beautiful video about Bruges!
6. Belfry of Bruges
Belfry of Bruges Dimitris Kamaras
Many tourists are wondering: what to visit in Bruges from the most famous? The Belfort Bell Tower is one of the attractions worth visiting. It was built in 1240 and is 83 meters high. The tower was rebuilt more than once, and acquired its modern look in 1822, when the upper part was decorated in the neo-Gothic style. In the lower part there are the premises of the city archive, and the top is used as an observation deck and a bell tower.
During the day, every hour, bells ring out over the city, the melodies are non-repeating. The bells are powered by an ancient carillon – a drum. Tourists can watch how music is born, because on one side the carillon is fenced off by a transparent showcase.
Official website: https://www.visitbruges.be
7. Gate of the Holy Cross
Gate of the Holy Cross in Bruges NH53
There is free time left and you are looking for what to see in Bruges? Visit the Gate of the Holy Cross, one of the oldest sights in the city. They were installed in the XIV century and were a structure to protect against unfriendly neighbors. Now it is a complex consisting of a massive arch and towers with flags. According to legend, if you go through the gate three times, your innermost desire will come true. During military operations, soldiers, leaving through the gate, read prayers, asking for blessings.
Official website: https://www.visitbruges.be
8. Loppem Castle
Loppem Castle surrounded by a beautiful park
The first owners of the castle were Baron Carl van Caloen and his wife Savina de Gourcy. They were religious people, and therefore the interior of their newly built castle was decorated in the spirit of Christianity. The ceilings in the Main Hall are surprising – almost 17 meters high, the fireplace is decorated with family coats of arms of the family. An interesting feature: the building did not provide for toilet rooms, they were completed later.
The spiral staircase leading to the second floor of the castle is complemented by carved railings. In the 20th century, the castle was the royal residence of Albert I, and during the First World War, the headquarters of the Belgian army was located here. Here you can see paintings by Van Dyck, as well as artists – students of Rubens.
Many sights of Bruges have their own interesting history and many mysteries, and Loppem Castle is no exception, which is surrounded by a beautiful park spread over an area of more than 100 hectares. In it, shady alleys are in harmony with small ponds with waterfowl. And lovers of puzzles should certainly walk through the famous labyrinth, which consists of long corridors.
Official website: http://www.kasteelvanloppem.be/en
< h3> 9. Bruges Chocolate Museum
Bruges Chocolate Museum Mark Healey
Real Belgian chocolate has an unsurpassed and original taste. Many lovers of delicacy make a choice in favor of the Belgian brand. Therefore, it is not surprising that Bruges has its own Chocolate Museum. Visiting the sights of Belgium, you must definitely see this museum! Like many sights of Bruges, the museum has collected real works of art, but only from chocolate: from ordinary bars to chocolate sculptures. The institution has a rich library fund, in which there are many books about the history of the delicacy, as well as recipes for its manufacture.
Experienced confectioners will teach mastery lessons in preparing this delicious delicacy. The museum has a bar where visitors are invited to taste various chocolate treats and cocktails of more than forty types.
Bruges is known for its annual Choco-Late chocolate festival, during which confectioners arrange culinary duels and surprise with real chocolate fountains.
Official website: http://choco-story-brugge. be/ENG/
10. Gentpoort Gate
Gentpoort Gate in Bruges Charlie
In the Middle Ages, fortress walls with gates were erected around Bruges, but only four gates have survived to this day. Ezelpoor, Smedenpoort, Gentpoort, Kruispoort are their names. Like all the sights of Bruges, the Genport gate is imbued with the spirit of the Middle Ages. Tourists have the opportunity to touch the walls of the brick tower, which are several hundred years old!
The Gentpoort gate was built in 1400-1406. and performed a defensive function during military conflicts, and in peacetime they were the main entrance to the city and served as a checkpoint where imported and exported goods were checked and taxes were collected.
Now a museum has been opened in the tower of this gate, where you can look at a collection of weapons, various artifacts and ancient manuscripts telling about the beginning of the construction of towers and gates and other historical events of the past era.
Official website: https://www.visitbruges.be
Things to do in Bruges: what else to visit while in Bruges
For those who have few main architectural and natural monuments, we offer excursions in Bruges to not so famous, but no less wonderful places. Study the list to finally decide where to go after your arrival in this small old town filled with legends and fairy tales.
11. Brewery Museum in Bruges
Brewery Museum in Bruges Neil Turner
If you think you have already visited all the museums and sights of Bruges, do not forget to go to the Brewery Museum.
The first mention of the brewery dates back to the 19th century. Leon Mays took up brewing beer according to old recipes, it turned out to be dark in color with a sour aftertaste. Over the entire history of its existence, manufacturing technology has changed, fresh varieties have appeared. And in 1997, the owner of the brewery decided to open halls for visitors, where holidays, interesting meetings and other events were held. At the same time, the Brewery Museum was opened. During the excursions, you can not only learn a lot of interesting things about the process of making a foamy drink, but also take part in it, and then taste the various types of beer stored in the brewery cellars.
Official site: http://mybeerexperience.com/ru
12. Bruges Town Hall
Town Hall in Bruges
The town hall is based on the foundation laid back in 1376 by Count Lodewijk van Male. Many sights of Bruges were built in the Gothic style, the town hall building belongs to the same architectural style. The facade is decorated with rich stucco and statues of characters from the Bible and sculptures of famous historical figures located in niches.
The interior decoration is also striking in its splendor and luxury. Tourists are of great interest in the Gothic hall of the Town Hall. Wooden vaults made of oak are finished with sixteen slabs, on which figures are depicted in allegorical form, representing the four seasons and the four elements. On the walls of the Hall there are many ancient frescoes by the painter Albrecht de Vrindt.
The Renaissance Hall opens to the eye the famous fireplace of the master Lancelot Blondel, made in the 16th century. The Gothic Hall currently hosts City Council meetings and registers townspeople's marriages.
13. Park by the Lake of Love
Love Lake Park in Bruges
Love Lake is located in the old Minnewater Park. According to an ancient legend, the bridge on this lake will surely lead lovers to the wedding, and making a promenade along it, they will find happiness in marriage.
In the old days, there was a small port on Arsenal Street, and the lake connected the canals of the city with the sea. But after a while, the harbors became shallow. Sadly, but many sights of Bruges are associated with tragic events in the fate of famous and ordinary people. In the history of Minnewater Park there is a sad legend about the daughter of a sailor. They wanted to forcefully marry a young girl. To avoid her unenviable fate, the bride decided to run away and take refuge in the forest. Her chosen one, returning home from the war, found his betrothed in the forest, who later died in his arms. In memory of his beloved, the guy set a stone on the shore. This is where the name of the lake came from, and now a tower rises in the place of the stone.
You can ride horse-drawn carriages around the park. The lake is decorated with swans – graceful birds that have become a symbol of the city.
Beguinage Monastery in Bruges
The sights of Bruges include the Monastery of the Beguines, which was founded by Countess Margaret of Constantinople in 1244. At the beginning of its existence, it was under the patronage of King Philip IV the Handsome and had the name “Royal Beguinage”. Ditches were dug around the territory of the building and filled with water, which isolated this place from the rest of the world. On the bridge in front of the entrance there is a landmark showing the border between the city limits and the Beguinage. The phrase “Sauve Garde”, written above the gate, indicates the right of shelter in this area. Begins are considered nuns, but this is not entirely correct. They do not take monastic vows, have the right to start a family and have the right to return to everyday life.
15. Queen Astrid Park
Queen Astrid Park in Bruges Michael Zehrer
The history of this park began after the monks were given land along Bramberg Street for the construction of the monastery. For several centuries, the park served as a quiet place for monks to relax. However, during the period of the prohibition of religious societies, the monastery was destroyed, and the territory of the park fell into private hands. In the 19th century, local authorities bought part of the land for the construction of the Church of St. Magdalene. Soon, a public park in the Old English style was created on the remaining territory.
Initially, the park was named after the former owners – Franciscan. But after the tragic death of Queen Astrid, the garden was given her name. The sculptor De Vispelare created a bronze bust of the “Snow Princess”, which is located in the center of the park. A small lake and a cozy gazebo add charm and romance to this place. Read also about the sights of Brussels and be inspired to travel further in Belgium.