Discover the beautiful architecture and waterways of Brugge
A mixture of great architecture, beautiful waterways and moderate weather, Bruges (Brugge in dutch) is a great weekend destination. The historic capital of Belgium's Flanders region, the city has a great wealth of medieval architecture. In fact the historic center of the town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Bruges also enjoys a long tradition of port activity on an international scale. As an early medieval port, Bruges was accessible from the sea until 1050 when heavy flooding reshaped the coast. It managed to retain sea links via a canal from Zwin to Bruges, making use of a number of out-ports to stay connected to the sea. Today it's main seaport is Zeebrugge.
With good sea links, early Bruges quickly became a commercial center for Europe. By the eleventh century it had a thriving wool market, a weaving industry and a cloth market. Large stocks were accumulated within the safety of the city walls and the industries continued to grow and grow. This growth brought contact with other civilizations, cultures and commercial goods. The population swelled and the town seemed to flourish. However the wealth was not enjoyed by all and revolts became a common sight in the 1400s and 1500s. It suffered huge losses when the port started to silt up and the trade moved to Antwerp. Even efforts to modernize the maritime infrastructure did not help the city rise out of it's slump. Eventually in the second-half of the twentieth century, Bruges began to reclaim some of its former glory. In 2002 it became the designated cultural capital of Europe and has enjoyed a large amount of international tourism since then.
A weekend break to Bruges will find you in a beautiful medieval town. Many visitors start their holiday but viewing the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady) which, with a spire reaching 122m high, is Europe's highest brick building. Another popular attraction is that of the 13th century Belfort with its collection of 47 bells. Free concerts are held regularly for the public to enjoy this unusual delight. The Beguinage, the Heilig Bloed Basiliek (Basilica of Holy Blood), the Concert Hall and the St John Hostipial are also famous buildings which can be found in Bruges. Along a similar vein you will find that the city also boasts a fine collection of medieval and early modern art. You may not be able arrange a flight to Bruge but the city is easily reached by train. And while there are a few Bruges car hire places available, you are more likely to benefit from bicycle hire as the streets are narrow and there are a lot of one ways which make driving a car very difficult. Bruges is also the home of several great beers and you might consider tasting a few of them before checking out your Bruges hotel after a great weekend.