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Coming from Paris we visit Bruges

Home -> Europe -> Belgium -> Travelogue Belgium -> 16 December 2013

Monday 16 December, coming from Paris we visit Bruges

After a last morning in Paris we have left for Bruges where we spend this afternoon and tomorrow.
Shopping street BrugesIn Bruges we drive directly to the center so that we can walk around a bit in daylight. We once got through this town, no idea when and I only remember that I really liked it. We then drank something on the market and then had to continue, now we have a bit more time. But as long as it is still daylight we want to look around so a drink will have to wait. The historic center is on the Unesco World Heritage list and I totally agree with that decision.
Nice shop in Bruges Smedenpoort, BrugesWe start our walk on the market of Bruges, the central square (Grote Markt). Most buildings in the center date from the Middle Ages, but in the 19th century many were rebuilt in neo-Gothic style, making them look younger than they are, an architectural facelift. I find the shop on the left photo very attractive. It now seems to be a snack bar which I find totally not fitting with the appearance of it.
We first walk to the edge of the center, to the Smedenpoort, 1 of the 4 remaining medieval gates of the city.
Funny little house, Bruges The Sand, BrugesThe name Bruges is mentioned for the first time in the 9th century and thanks to its harbour, the city quickly grew into an international trading city. Between the 13th and 15th century it was even considered the economic capital of Northwest Europe.
Near the Smedenpoort we see a funny little house wedged between two more modern houses and through small backstreets we walk to the Zand, just like the Grote Markt a large square where the concert hall is situated and even more old mansions that are now mainly used as a restaurant or store.
Santa in Bruges King Albert I park, BrugesBruges is also preparing for Christmas and the whole town is decorated, there are Christmas stalls and there is a small funfair in the King Albert I park that lies just south of the Zand. The park is completely decorated and even lamps have been placed on the bushes to create a Christmas atmosphere.
Saint Salvators Cathedral, Bruges Street in BrugesThe Saint-Salvators Cathedral towers high above the city. It once began as a small Romanesque stone church in the 9th century. It was not until the 19th century that it became a cathedral and had to be expanded considerably because it was then less impressive than the nearby Onze-Lieve-Vrouwenkerk.
We walk through the Sint-Jan in the Meers street towards the site Oude Sint Jan where one of the first hospitals in Europe once stood.
Courtyard, Bruges Saint Salvators Cathedral, BrugesThere are dozens of courtyards in Bruges. Often they were so-called god houses, green courtyards with white houses around them that were originally built for poor elderly people. People still live there and most courtyards are kept neatly. At the entrance of a courtyard is often a sign that states whether you can walk in there and whether there are rules that you should adhere to.
Afterwards we walk around the Saint-Salvators Cathedral. A lot of works of art are kept in the church and in 2009 there was burglary in which many invaluable masterpieces were stolen from the goldsmith collection.
Coach in Bruges Christmas market in BrugesWe do not see modern tourist buses in Bruges, but coaches that take the tourists through the narrow streets for a guided tour.
We walk to the Christmas market on the Simon Stevinplein where it is a pleasant bustle. Here too everything is decorated with lights and now that it is getting dark quickly, there is almost a fairytale glow over the town, it was a good idea to spend a day here.
Christmas atmosphere in BrugesBut now it is time to sit down and have something to eat and drink and there is plenty of opportunity. This former trading city is now fully equipped for tourism with 90 hotels, hundreds of restaurants and eateries and dozens of museums. Including the chocolate museum because Bruges is also known as chocolate city and every year there is even a chocolate festival.
We sit ourselves on a semi-covered and heated terrace and sit there for a long time before we go to the van der Valk hotel just outside the city.


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