Bruges, Belgium  Map

You may have wondered "why did they visit Bruges?" Consider; It is the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium, it is distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. Its port, Zeebrugge, is an important center for fishing and European trade. In the city center's Burg square, the 14th-century Stadhuis (City Hall) has an ornate carved ceiling. Nearby, Markt square features a 13th-century belfry with a 47-bell carillon and 83m tower with panoramic views.

Bruge has the appearance of a medieval city with a canal circling the city of 117,260 inhabitants. This is a very walk-able city, not many cars, mostly bicycles and every third shop seemed to be a chocolate shop! Let me say that just about everything you have ever heard about Belgian Chocolate is true!

Martin's Brugge Hotel

We had previously selected the Martin's Brugge Hotel, as we could see that it's location was very close to the central square in town, and it looked like a nice place to stay.
This turned out to be a good location to be at, less than one block from the Markt Square and surrounded by shops and interesting restaurants. Go one block in one direction and you are on the square, go one block in the other direction, and you are at the canal.
Click here for their website

Brasserie Strijdershuis

The Brasserie Strijdershuis restaurant was directly across the street from our hotel, and every time we walked by there, the great food smells were calling our name! We finally decided to have dinner there, and enjoyed it immensely, as we had mussels, french fries and an excellent local beer! Do not let the alley-way appearance fool you, that is just the outside seating area of the restaurant, the inside area was very nice.
The walkway in front of the restaurant where this picture was taken, leads past the Belfort Brugge out to the Markt Square.
Click here for their website

The Bottle Shop

Also directly across the street (and around the corner) from our hotel was this amazing beer shop named "The Bottle Shop". Now we were aware of the Belgian Beer Industry and how these breweries have won numerous awards, but we were not aware of the size of the Beer Industry - there must have been 400+ beer brands in this shop!
NOTE: The Bottle Shop is located at; Wollestraat 13, 8000 Brugge, Belgium just across the street from the Belfort Brugge.
Click here for The Bottle Shop Website.

We could not decide on which beer to purchase, so we stopped and took a selfie while we made up our minds (note - every good thing you've heard about Belgian Beer is true!)

Horse Carraige Tours

Horse Carriages are very popular in Bruges! There are tours of Bruges via carraige that start at the Markt Square Carraige Station & there is a 5 person per carraige limitation. We walked all over Bruges, and where ever we went, horse carriages were either already there or would soon be there.

Click here to see a Google Search list of carraige tours.

Markt Square

Markt Square was originally a market place and stage for tournaments and festivals from over a thousand years. Today, it is full of historic relics such as the majestic Belfry Tower and Church Hall while surrounded by banks, restaurants, and modern shops. It is also one of the most iconic spots of the movie "In Bruges".
NOTE: Click here to see a video we took of the square.

Historium Bruges

We had gone into the Historium Bruges on the east side of the square, and as it had a balcony, we stepped out to get some pictures of the square.

Belfry of Bruges

The Belfry of Bruges is a medieval bell tower in the centre of Bruges, Belgium. One of the city's most prominent symbols, the belfry formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives, and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger. A narrow, steep staircase of 366 steps, accessible by the public for an entry fee, leads to the top of the 83 meters (272 feet) high building, which leans 87 centimetres to the east.

The belfry was added to the market square around 1240, when Bruges was an important centre of the Flemish cloth industry. After a devastating fire in 1280, the tower was largely rebuilt. The city archives, however, were forever lost to the flames.

The octagonal upper stage of the belfry was added between 1483 and 1487, and capped with a wooden spire bearing an image of Saint Michael, banner in hand and dragon underfoot. The spire did not last long: a lightning strike in 1493 reduced it to ashes, and destroyed the bells as well. A wooden spire crowned the summit again for some two-and-a-half centuries, before it, too, fell victim to flames in 1741. The spire was never replaced again, thus making the current height of the building somewhat lower than in the past; but an openwork stone parapet in Gothic Revival style was added to the rooftop in 1822.

Provinciaal Hof

This is a Neogothical building on the market place in Bruges, Belgium. It is the former meeting place for the provincial government of West Flanders.

Both the exterior and the interior are in the Gothic Revival style. The central meeting room has ten sculptures of royalty by Hendrik Pickery, and mural paintings of famous people from West Flanders. The rest of the building is decorated with more sculptures by Hendrik and his son Gustaaf Pickery, stained glass windows by Jules Dobbelaere, and chandeliers by Edward De Vooght. A number of paintings can be found as well, including work by Joos de Momper, Jan Van de Putte, Jan Baptist van Meunincxhove, and paintings from the Romantic era. Click here for their website.

 Quick History Lesson 

In 1294, the Waterhalle, 95 meters long and about 30 meters high, was built as the central point of the port of Bruges, right in the heart of the city. When the boats no longer could reach the hall, it was demolished in 1787 and replaced with a neoclassicist building. From 1850 on, part of this was used to house the provincial government meetings, until it burned down in 1878. A replacement in neogothical style, intended to house the province and a postal office, was started in 1887 by architects Louis Delacenserie and René Buyck. The post office was opened in 1891, and the first part of the Provinciaal Hof in 1892. The last parts of the buildings were finished in 1920.

The building was used as the government meeting hall until 1999, and is now mainly a ceremonial building, and also used for exhibitions.

Click here to go to the Wikipedia Page where the above information came from.
Belfort Tower

272 feet in height, leaning 87 centimeters to the east. Originally built in 1240, and rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1280. A wooden spire at the top of the tower was destroyed by fire in 1741 and never replaced.
NOTE: Image is the property of Visit Bruges
Click here for their website

 Quick History Lesson 

The statues at the centre of the square are of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, two freedom heroes in the struggle against the French at the beginning of the 14th century. Jan Breydel was head of the butchers and Pieter de Coninck was head of the weavers. This, at least, is how the story is told in the historical novel "The Lion of Flanders" by H. Conscience. The statue was erected in 1887 when Romantiscism, characterised by a yearning for the glorious past, reached its Pinnacle throughout most of Europe.

Click here to go to the Wikipedia Page where the above data came from.
Bruges Canal Tour Boats

There are several tour boat operators that provide canal tours, we went with Bruges River Cruises, as their get-on point was just down the Wollestraat from our hotel (just before the bridge, turn right to buy a ticket).

Bruges Canal Bridges

Some of the bridges over the canals were seriously low, for several, everyone had to duck! However, you have to admire their longevity, these canals were built starting in the 12th century BC!

Bruges Canals Surround the City

We hiked around the city starting from Markt Square, found a coffee shop, and then continued our hike until we reached the Coupure Canal on the eastern edge of Bruges. As you can see in this picture, the canal is paralled by a walk way, by which we eventually returned to Markt Square.

 Quick History Lesson 

The city originated on the banks of the river Reie. In the course of time a real town gradually developed, which was connected through canals to the deeper branch of the North Sea, the Zwin. The Bruges' canals are referred to as "Reie", named after the river "Roya" wich used to flow into the Zwin estuary.

The inner canals were once part of Bruges' old ramparts and city walls. The first city walls were built after the death of the Flemish Count Charles the Good. He was murdered in St. Donatian's Church in 1127. In the weeks after the assassination the citizens of Bruges built a rampart around the city, which followed the path of the inner canals of the city: the Dijver, Groenerei, St. Annarei, Goudenhandrei, Augustijnenrei, Smedenrei, and Kapucijnenrei. In a garden wall of the house in the Pieter Pourbusstraat is the only remnant of the first wall: a semicircular reinforcement tower, which is clearly visible from the Pottenmakersstraat.

The above information was extracted from Wikipedia.

We spent two nights in Bruges, and on the third morning we caught a train and travelled to the Brussels International Airport for our flight to Vienna, Austria. Once again, the magnificent European Rail System was on time, efficient and took us to the Train Station directly under the Airport departures and arrivals halls, at level -1. You walk upstairs from the train station, and presto you are in the Airport Ticketing area!

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