Bruges Travel Guide
Introduction to Bruges
Considered by many tourism professionals and travelers as the postcard perfect representation of a medieval-era town in continental Europe, Bruges has drawn throngs of visitors to its cobbled streets for generations. Even though some have come to loath its popularity over the years, there is no denying that people keep coming back here for a reason – its charm and diversity of attractions drive word of mouth, and the pictures put in photo albums (and in the present day, on Facebook, SmugMug, etc) perpetuate a continual cycle of travelers eager to discover this architectural gem for themselves.
Cultural Experiences in Bruges
While there are many sights and attractions within the city of Bruges, one of the most profound ones is unquestionably the Basilica of the Holy Blood.
Erected in the 12th century in the Romanesque and Gothic style of building, its upper chapel has drawn travelers and pilgrims for centuries, as it is home to a Christian relic that is said to contain a cloth soaked with the blood of Jesus Christ.
Also of interest are the stained glass windows that adorn the sides of the upper chapel. Installed in 1845, their artistry is testament to the exceptional skill of the artisans that created them more than a century and a half ago.
If the intricate beauty of those masterpieces has gotten you into a mood to see more fine art, Groeningemuseum is the best place in Bruges to views its best paintings, drawings, and other forms of fine expression.
It contains more than 600 years worth of works within its walls, which includes several outstanding pieces by Jan van Eyck.
One art form that is emphasized in this gallery is Flemish Primitive art, which portrayed mostly religious themes or scenes from everyday life, as opposed to the iconography and abstract themes which became more common in the centuries that followed its heyday.
Find the Groeningemuseum to be a bit too serious for you? Perhaps the Frietmuseum would be a better fit, as it is the world’s only museum dedicated to the history of pomme frites (French fries).
Detailing its story through the ages and how it was created then and in the present day, it is located in one of the oldest structures in the historic centre of Bruges (of all the things that could be in it, a french fry museum … yes, we know), making both the subject matter and its surrounds attractions that make it well worth the visit.
Other Attractions in Bruges
When you are done sorting through the historical and cultural attractions of Bruges, take an afternoon to relax and watch the world go by at The Markt. Located in the centre of Bruges, it is a favorite meeting place of locals, and a hive of activity for tourists. Sit down at one of many bars and cafes lining the square, order a coffee or cocktail and observe as people shop for market fresh fruits and vegetables, horse carriages click by, and foreigners walk around as if they were spellbound. Many of those in the latter group can’t help but gawk at the meticulously preserved historic buildings that represent a plethora of architecture styles from many centuries in the past; don’t laugh, as you will likely be among them when you see this square for the first time as well.
Did the pint you had at the Markt get you in the mood for having a few more? Signing up for a tour of Brewery De Halve Maan would seem to be the next logical step, as it is one of Belgium’s leading producers of its trademark beer. Information on the brewery’s history and its beer creation process will take you through the first 45 minutes of your experience here, but with a free pint offered afterward on its scenic outdoor terrace (or indoor bar during winter/inclement weather), you might be here for a while longer enjoying one of Bruges’ finest beverage products.
Seeking a killer vantage point for a panoramic photo of Bruges? The Belfry of Bruges is the best place to get it, as it stands over 83 metres above the street below. The challenge is the climb – with 366 steps, it will tax all but the fittest visitors, so take your time and bring water if you plan on ascending.