In 1892 George Rodenbach wrote a short novel about a city that was rapidly wasting away after its flourishing Golden Era. Bruges La Morte or Bruges the dead, was such a correct reflection of the city’s decline that it was even adopted into an opera, ‘Die tote Stadt’ – The Dead City. Bruges had been one of Europes’ most important trade and commercial centres for centuries, but in the 1500s, with the destruction of the canals, it was Antwerp that developed into the economical capital of the Low Countries.
Today it is hard to imagine Bruges being associated with anything even remotely close to death, but to understand why such lines were drawn picture this; during Bruges peak in the 14th century, close to 200.000 people lived in the city, compared to today’s 120.000. No wonder its decline to 50.000 inhabitants at the turn of the 20th century made it seem like a ghost town.
The French Bruges became the Flemish Brugge in 1302 when the the Flemish militia won the Battle of the Golden Spurs and it is now the capital and largest city of the province West Flanders in Belgium. It lies an hour North-West of Brussels and is also know as ‘Venice of the North’ together with Amsterdam because of its stunning canals. Since the mid 1800s, Brugge has continued to grow as a tourism hotspot and because of its well preserved medieval heritage, the city’s historical centre was added to UNSECO’s World Heritage Sites in 2000, as well as being named Culture Capital of Europe in 2002. What Brussels might lack in character you’ll find in abundance here and it is impossible not to be charmed by everything that makes this city famous and one of Europe’s most beautiful historical destinations.
Here are 7 reasons you’ll fall in love with Brugge.
As everywhere in Belgium you’ll find world famous chocolate and of course Brugge is no exception. Indulge in the purest chocolate possible or experience new and interesting flavours in one of the many delicate chocolatiers in town. Irresistible!
2. Beautiful Canals
Although not quite Venice, the canals in Brugge have a certain appeal and beauty that you are bound to love. And I mean it, you will love them. Make the effort to get up early when the city is still asleep and walk along the canals to admire the beauty of houses reflecting in the still water surrounded by greens and the morning sun that makes it all glow.
3. Gothic Architecture
Next to the canals the most distinct feature of Brugge is the beautiful medieval architecture. Triangle shaped houses dominate the city centre together with beautiful churches and other high profiled buildings. Hardly any changes has been made since the construction during medieval times, which are primarily of gothic and neo-gothic origins.
4. Window Shopping
Although ridiculously tempting for those who aren’t out to spend money, window shopping in Brugge is pure delight. The city is full of beautiful shops with displays that are on the verge of spellbinding. It’s not only chocolate and sweets that’ll seduce you, let’s add bakeries, book shops and interior design to that list too. Pretty much anything on display will have you wanting it.
5. Delicious food
If you thought Belgian food was restricted to chocolate and vaffles you better think again; the culinary scene is varied and mouth watering. Those who work with food are concerned about quality and freshness of their products and as the demand for ecological food is rising, more cafes and restaurants are following the trend. Brugge has an abundance of eateries which are sure to satisfy your gastronomic appetite.
6. The Belfry View
One of Brugge’s most famous buildings is the impressing Belfry towering 83 meters above the market square. It was build in 1240 and was used as a observation post to spot fires and other dangers that might’ve occurred. Today you can climb the 366 steps to the top and enjoy spectacular views of Brugge and its surroundings.
Although there are a lot of things that make Brugge a great destination, it is the in way it all comes together and the overall impression that makes it one of the most beautiful spots in Belgium and Europe. Great concern and consideration is being put into details in every aspect of the city and with so much love for its characteristics and features you are bound to fall in love with Bruges, ‘the dead’.