The world is a place that doesn’t stop surprising me. I have recently discovered a lovely place that really impressed me with its picturesque and medieval air. This place is the town of Bruges, an architectural masterpiece which seems to be the setting of a fairytale.
The mixture of old buildings, brick houses, colored Hanseatic houses, interesting churches and cathedrals, narrow cobblestone streets, lovely canals and delicious chocolate and beer makes Bruges an amazing destination. A medieval and picturesque air can be felt in every corner of this town.
Visiting Bruges is indeed a relaxing experience, so I advise you to take your time and enjoy this town. However, if you won’t be able to spend too much time in Bruges you should know that its most famous tourist attractions are all gathered downtown. Despite the fact that Bruges is the largest town of West Flanders Province, its center is not very large and it can be easily visited in a few hours.
No matter how much time you will spend in Bruges, make sure you will visit the following places, which are in my opinion the most representative ones:
1.Built in a neo-Gothic style, the Provincial Palace (Provinciaal Hof) used to be the seat of the Provincial Council of West Flanders. Situated in Markt Square, this impressive building has an interesting exterior embellished with spires, statues and ornaments.
2.The Bouchoute House (Huis Bouchoute) is the oldest building in Markt Square. This perfectly symmetric building seems to be cut out from a different story compared to all the other asymmetric buildings. The octagonal instrument that embellishes its façade gives the house an imposing allure.
3.The Craenenburg House (Huis Craenenburg) is also a beautiful historic building located in Markt Square. The legend says that the Craenenburg House is the place where Emperor Maximilian of Austria was imprisoned. This building currently hosts a famous traditional Flemish café.
4.The most special attraction in Bruges, Belfry & Halle is a famous building with an interesting exterior design. Its 83 meters tall medieval bell tower seems to guard the entire Markt Square and it is considered a symbol of liberty and wealth. A really special thing about this place is the fact that it has 47 different bells.
5.Markt Square also hosts a group of lovely Hanseatic houses. I have to confess that these colored houses with their strange roofs are my favorite buildings in Bruges. An interesting detail about them is the fact that their roofs were built in the shape of stairs.
6.Situated in Burg Square, The Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig-Bloedbasiliek) is a Roman Catholic church. It is said that a crystal vial containing a drop of Christ’s blood is kept in this church. The Basilica of the Holy Blood has an interesting exterior embellished with arches and golden statues.
7.Also located in Burg Square, The Town Hall (Stadhuis) is an impressive Gothic building. Its exterior is decorated with arched windows, small turrets, interesting pilasters and beautiful statues. The interior of Stadhuis hosts a collection of interesting paintings, splendid wall murals and a colorful vaulted ceiling.
8.The Palace of the Liberty of Bruges (Brugse Vrije) perfectly completes the beautiful collection of buildings which are situated in Burg Square. This building used to function as the seat of the Liberty of Bruges and also as the courthouse of Bruges. Now it hosts the council administration and the archives of Bruges. The Palace of Liberty of Bruges is famous for its beautiful black marble fireplace.
9.Situated in the Djiver quarter, the Church of our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk) is a beautiful medieval church. This church is famous for its 122 meters tall tower and also for its white marble sculpture by Michelangelo, called The Madonna and Child. The tower is the tallest in Belgium and also the second tallest brick tower in the world.
10.Saint John’s Hospital (Sint-Janshospitaal) is one of the oldest hospital buildings in Europe. You should know that this building is open to the public. It is really interesting that the old infirmary hosts Hans Memling Museum, where you can admire a collection of objects that relate to medicine: hospital records, medical instruments, medical documents, paintings and other works of art.
11.The beautiful Dijver Houses are situated on both sides of the Dijver Canal. These lovely medieval buildings have an imposing allure and play an important role when it comes to the beauty of Bruges. Some of the Dijver Houses host museums, restaurants, cafes or shops.