If you try and imagine what you thought of when hearing all those famous fairy tales when you were young, from Hansel and Gretel to the Three Little Pigs and now more recently the animated film Shrek, then you’re well on your way to imaging what the Belgium city of Bruges looks like today. It’s quite simply a stunning European treasure that really has to be seen to be believed. If you think Venice is beautiful then you aint seen nothing yet.
Located in the region of West Flanders, Bruges has around 117,000 people living amongst its canals, back streets and beautiful quaint little cottages. It’ll come as no great surprise when you arrive to find out that the historic quarter of Bruges became a UNESCO World Heritage Sight in 2000. The medieval churches, museums and houses look as though they haven’t even been taken out of their box.
Forget Venice and Amsterdam, Bruges is the new king of the canals in Europe. You can’t go to Bruges without taking in a gentle relaxing boat ride along the canal. On average they take around half an hour and you can catch one of the many boats at various points around the city such as right near the famous Belfry Tower. They cost around 6 Euros for adults and a little less for children and are well worth it if you want to see the whole city from the best angle.
At 366 steps and over 80 metres in the air, the famous Belfry Tower in the main market square has stood guard over the city since the 13th Century and was once very useful for spotting any approaching dangers or problems within the city. Although the tower has been the victim of a number of fires and lightning strikes over the years, it continues to ring its 47 bells proudly today and has its own full time bell ringer called Aimé.
Church of Our Lady
Another building with a huge tower in the city is the beautiful 13th Century Church of Our Lady. At a colossal 122 metres high, the tower is the second largest brick tower in the world. The church is lucky enough to house some remarkable art works and none more stunning that Michelangelo’s marble sculpture of the Madonna and Child, which was brought to Belgium by a pair of merchants in 1514 and is one of very few works by the great man to have ever left Italy.
Brewery De Halve Maan
Forget the churches and the boat ride for a minute and consider a trip to a Belgium brewery. The De Halve Maan is one of the oldest in Belgium and it’s a real pride for a lot of the city’s inhabitants. Belgium beer is enjoyed all over the world and for only around 5 Euros you can take a tour of the whole complex and see exactly how the magic is created. You might even get to try some straight out the keg too, but go easy, it’s stronger than you think.
Picture of Bruges, Belgium originally posted by Wolfgang Staudt