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Bruges

Country
Belgium
State
Flemish
City
Bruges
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

Bruges (Flemish Brugge, French Bruges), the old capital of Flanders and an arch bishopric since 1559, is located on the little river Reie 12km/7.5miles south of the port of Zeebrugge to which it is linked by the Boudewijn-Kanaal. Other canals connect Bruges with Ostende, Nieuwpoort, Veurne, Ghent and Sluis

Despite the addition of new building and the loss of its old town walls (all but four towers having been demolished since the mid 19th C. to make way for traffic), Bruges with its perfectly preserved medieval town center remains a tourist dream, a magnet drawing more than two million visitors a year. But the town does have thriving industries as well - steel works, calico mills, furniture factories, prefabricated cement works and yeast, paint, television set and outboard engine manufacturers. Bobbin lace, for which Bruges has long been famous, continues to be important. Complementing all this industry is a strong service sector which makes a significant contribution to the local economy. The chief commodities passing through the port of Zeebrugge - the second largest fishing port in Belgium - are crude oil, coal, iron ore, packaged goods and meat.

In addition to its Academy of Fine Arts and its Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bruges is also proud to play host to the College of Europe.

Surprisingly little is known about the early history of Bruges. There is mention of a "Municipium Brugense" in documents dating from the seventh C. but the name itself seems to have originated with the Vikings who landed at the mouth of the Reie ("bruggja" = place of embarkation). Rather more certain is that Baldwin I (Iron Arm), who died about 879 and who was the founder of the powerful dynasty of Flemish counts and a son-in-law of Charles the Bald of France, built himself a castle here. Trade gradually flourished until Robert the Frisian (died 1093) made the town his capital.

During the 12th and 13th centuries, when still linked by the Reie to the North Sea via the inlet known as the Zwin, Bruges evolved into one of the principal trading cities of the medieval world.



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How to Reach

By Air

To get to Bruges via air, visitors must fly to Brussels International Airport then transfer by ground transportation. Bruges is located 110kms from Brussels and the journey can be made in around about an hour. Ground transportation options out of Brussels Airport include trains, buses, hire cars and taxis. Unless you intend to drive, rail is the best option for getting to Bruges from Brussels.

By Rail

Rail services operated by Belgian National Railways connect Bruges with major Belgian cities including Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. There are also connections with cross-Channel ferry services at Ostend and Zeebrugge. From Paris, the Thalys high-speed train service goes direct from Brussels to Bruges, while a similar service from Amsterdam via Brussels is also available.

By Bus

The Eurolines bus company provides connections with Bruges from all over Europe, with daily services from London's Victoria Coach Station travelling via the Channel Tunnel.

By Car

From Folkestone in England, you can get to Calais with your car via the Eurotunnel then by taking the E40 motorway to Bruges via Ostend. From Lille in France, the E403 motorway leads to Bruges.

Key places to visit
Groeninge Museum, The Belfry Tower, Church of Our Lady, Sint-Jansspitaal, Historic Centre


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Places to Visit

Groeninge Museum

To the left of No. 12 Dijver an entrance leads from the quay to the Groeninge Museum (Stedelijk Museum voor Schone Kunst) tucked away behind. In addition to its excellent endowment of Old Flemish paintings the museum incorporates a gallery of modern art and a superb collection of views of old Bruges.

The first five rooms of the museum are the ones most likely to claim the visitor's attention however, containing as they do some quite exceptional paintings by Old Flemish masters.

The Belfry Tower

Situated in Markt Square, the chimes of the Belfry can be heard all over the city. Overlooking the square, the impressive tower has 390 steps, open to energetic tourists. Built in the 13th century, the tower contains 47 bells and lives up to its reputation for playing some delightful tunes on the hour. Views from the top are impressive and not to be missed.

Church of Our Lady

Housing Michelangelos Madonna and Child statue, this church attracts hordes of visitors annually. The richly ornate interior also boasts a beautiful altar and a painting of the Last Supper as well as others by important Flemish painters from the 16th century. The spire stands 22 metres tall, with the exterior incorporating elements of Romanesque and Gothic styles.

Sint-Jansspitaal

Immediately opposite the west door of the Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk stands the oldest building in Bruges, the Sint-Jansspitaal founded in the 12th C. The tympanum over the bricked up gate to the left of the Mariastraat entrance, embellished with reliefs showing the Virgin, bears the date 1270. Inside the ancient building, in what were once wards, an exhibition of documents, surgical instruments etc. charts the hospital's history. The old dispensary adjacent to the wards has also been preserved.\

Historic Centre

The historic centre of Bruges is the main focus of all tourist activity here and no visit to the centre is complete without a walking or boat tour to appreciate the wonderful architecture on offer here. The medieval and Gothic constructions can be seen on every corner, and the citys former status as a commercial and trading capital is evident on these stunning buildings. Get a good map and tour on foot, or head to the canals just behind the main square to see the city from a different perspective.

Right Time to Visit

Information not available

Temperature

November - January -> -1(°C) - Winter
May - July -> 12(°C) - Summer


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