Bruges

View of Bruges

 

 

Location: Flemish Region

Visitor Information

Tel. 050-44 46 46

www.brugge.be

 

Description of Bruges

Bruges is the capital city of Flemish Region and Belgium and also the largest city in the country. Bruges gained its fame and size during medieval times when it became an important trading town in North Europe flourishing between 13th and 15th century. It is the capital of the province of West Flanders. Located in the extreme northwest of Belgium, 90 kilometers from the capital Brussels, it has a population of 117,000 inhabitants in its urban center. Its name comes from the western Germanic "Bryggia" ("bridges", "docks", "berths"). It is interesting to note that, in Dutch, "brug" means "bridge", and that this city has the plural name of this word, due to the large number of bridges that exist in it.

The main attraction of Bruges is its historical center, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. Although it has been largely rebuilt, this urban center is one of the greatest European attractions, as it keeps the medieval architectural structures intact. Like Amsterdam, Gothenburg and Hamburg, among others, Bruges is known as "the Venice of the North", due to the large number of canals that cross the city and the beauty of them.

 

History

Probably the name "Brugge" comes from the Old Norse bryggja which means jetty or harbor, possibly as a corruption of Rogia (Reie). Contacts with Scandinavia originated through trade across the North Sea and the Normans' invasions (from 800). The name therefore bears similarities with Bryggen, the historic harbor of Bergen, which, like Bruges, was an important city of the Hanseatic League from the 11th century.

The first signs of life on the current Bruges territory date from the 2nd century AD, when there was a Gallo-Roman settlement. The name of Bruges was mentioned for the first time between 850 and 875. Between the 9th and 12th centuries, the city grew into an international trade center thanks to the important port. For a moment, the port was threatened by the silting up of the area between Bruges and the current coastal strip. The creation of the Zwin, the shipping channel between Bruges and the sea, in 1134, however, ensured that the connection was maintained.

In 1089, Bruges was proclaimed the 'capital' of Flanders and from the 13th to the 15th century Bruges could safely be regarded as the economic capital of Northwestern Europe. Due to its importance as a trade center, the world's first stock exchange building saw the light of day in Bruges. In addition, the Waterhalle on the Grote Markt was also built as a meeting place for merchants.

The 14th century may be called the Golden Age of Bruges. At that time the city had no fewer than 46,000 inhabitants. The city center was given a second city wall, some of which have stood the test of time to this day. The Burgundian royal house had made Bruges its residence city and attracted many excellent artists, including painters and architects. This resulted in an enormous enrichment of the city in architectural, artistic and cultural terms. The monumental town hall is a good example of this, but many impressive churches and houses also date from that period.

However, the death of Mary of Burgundy in 1482 marked a turning point and soon the royal family withdrew from the city. The end of Bruges as an international trading metropolis was in sight. Antwerp took over this role for a century and Bruges fell into complete decline. The Spanish occupation from 1592 to 1713, coupled with several religious wars, dragged the city further and further into the depths.

After the Spaniards, the Austrians, French and Dutch also temporarily captured the city, until Belgium became independent in 1830. From 1600 to 1885, Bruges was one of the poorest cities in Flanders, where prosperity in general was already very low. The industrial revolution also brought little change for Bruges, because industrialization was only to a limited extent.

Ultimately, it was Georges Rodenbach's novel Bruges-la-Morte that once again brought the city to the fore. In the book, Bruges was portrayed as impoverished but mysterious and this resulted in a sudden turnaround in international interest. The historical patrimony was rediscovered and the construction of the seaport in Zeebrugge in 1896 also brought about an economic revival. The exhibition of the Flemish Primitives in 1902 was the starting shot for the strong cultural and tourist development that has characterized the city ever since.

During the two world wars, Bruges was almost completely spared from destruction. In 1971 the territory of the city was expanded considerably through a merger with the surrounding suburbs and in 2000 the city center was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. During 2002, Bruges was declared the European Capital of Culture.

 

Travel Destinations in Bruges

Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek) (Bruges)

 

Burg 10

Open: Apr-Sep 9:30am- 11:50am & 2pm- 5:50pm

Oct-Mar 10am-11:50am & 2pm- 3:50pm

Hospital of St John (Bruges)

 

Blind Donkey Alley

Blind Donkey Alley is a narrow and unique alley that connects the Burg with the 18th century Fish Market (Vismarkt).

Stadhuis (Bruges)

Stadhuis is a medieval town hall that was constructed between 1376 and 1420. Recently its vaulted ceiling that was constructed in 1385 was fully restored.

Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk - Church of Our Lady (Bruges)

Belfry and Markt below (Bruges)

 

Houishbrouwerij de Halve Maan (Bruges)

Walplein 26

Tel. 050- 44 4222

Open: 11am- 4pm Sun- Fri, 11am- 5pm Sat

www.halvemaan.be

 

Museum voor Volkskunde  (Bruges)

Balstraat 43

Tel. 050- 44 8764

Open: 9:30am- 5pm Tue- Sun

 

Groeninge Museum (Bruges)

Dijver 12

Tel. 050- 44 8711

Open: 9:30am- 5pm Tue- Sun

Closed: Jan 1, Dec 25

Gruuthuse Museum (Bruges)

Dijver 17

Tel. 050- 44 8762

Open: 9:30am- 5pm Tue- Sun

Closed: Jan 1, Dec 25

 

Begijhof (Bruges)

Wijngaardplein 1

Tel. 050-36 01 40

Open: daily

 

Heilig Bloed Basiliek (Bruges)

Burg 13

Tel. 050- 33 6792

Open: daily

Museum: Closed Mon, Wed pm in winter

 

Getting here

By plane
Bruges does not have its own airport. There are some in the vicinity of Bruges, but they only have a recreational purpose.

Ostend-Bruges International Airport is located in Ostend, an airport that offers passenger flights in addition to charter and cargo flights:
The largest two airports in Belgium are Brussels Airport and Brussels South Charleroi Airport. In Brussels Airport countries, many international companies. Brussels South Charleroi Airport mainly relies on low-cost airlines such as RyanAir, Wizz Air, OnAir, Jet4you and BlueAir.
Brussels Airport has a rail connection. On weekdays there is a direct train to Bruges. During the weekend you have to change trains once in Brussels-South.
From (Brussels South) Charleroi South Airport , a shuttle bus will take you to Charlerloi-Sud station. From there you can reach Bruges in less than two hours with two changes.

By train
There are direct IC train connections that connect Bruges with inland cities such as Antwerp , Blankenberge , Brussels , Eupen , Ghent , Hasselt , Izegem , Knokke , Kortrijk , Leuven , Lokeren, Li├Ęge, Mouscron , Ostend , Roeselare , Sint-Niklaas , Tielt , Tongeren , Torhout , Verviers , Welkenraedt and Zeebrugge.

From Bruges station you can also take direct trains to Lille (Lille) at certain times.

By car
The A10 / E40 runs just south of Bruges, connecting the coast with Ghent , the capital Brussels and the interior. From Bruges, the A17 / E403 runs south through the province towards Kortrijk and Doornik . Following on from this A17, the N31 runs westward around the city as an express road, and further north to Zeebrugge and the seaport.

In addition to this N31, the N49 / E34 north of the city also helps to access the port.

Several regional roads visit the city. The most important are the N9, which connects Brussels with Ostend via Ghent and Bruges , and the two roads that run approximately parallel to the A17 motorway to the south of the province, namely the N50 to Kortrijk , and the road Bruges- Torhout - Roeselare - Menen (N32).

The R30 runs around the city center, which functions as a city ring. The "big ring" of Bruges is formed by the N31 / E403, which runs in a half arc around and partly through the city in the west of the city.

One of the ways to get to Bruges from Antwerp is via the E34 / N49 and the N9: From Antwerp, keep Ghent first, until Bruges appears on the signs. Stay on the E34 until Maldegem. Here you have to pay attention: Take the N498, and follow it until the roundabout where the N9 towards Bruges can be taken. About 15 kilometers later you almost drive against the windmills that are located around the city center of Bruges.

Unsurprisingly, parking in the city center is pricey. You can pay by SMS, but if you don't want to find out how that works, you can also just take a parking garage. The Biekorf parking garage (approx. 1.50 euros per hour) is perhaps the most practical, as it is located in the heart of the city center. Parking just outside the city center might also be worth considering for those who are not afraid of a walk. Fortunately, the historic city center is not too extensive, so it is doable. Many landlords of "guest rooms" also offer their guests a free parking space for the duration of their stay.

By bus
Regional buses of De Lijn connect Bruges with Tielt , De Haan , Blankenberge , Ostend , Knokke , Damme , Maldegem , Ghent , Jabbeke and Roeselare.

There is also a bus connection with Breskens in the Netherlands , maintained by Veolia Transport.

By boat
In Zeebrugge you can take the boat to Hull (England). Rederij P&O uses a daily bus from the center to take you to the port terminal.

It is also possible to take a ferry beyond the French border to Dover (England). This is possible from both Dunkirk and Calais.

Bruges is still a junction of different canals and waterways:
The Boudewijnkanaal connects the Bruges inner harbor with the Zeebrugge outer harbor and the North Sea.
The Damse Vaart runs north from the center to the Dutch Sluis.
The canals Ostend- Bruges and Bruges- Ghent.

 

Tours

Most sights in Bruges are within walking distance of each other. For small trips, you can count on De Lijn's regional and city buses. For larger journeys (outside the city) it is best to take the train.