10 Photos of One Day in Bruges

Bruges, Brugges, Brugge? I saw the town spelt many ways, as many as the languages spoke here. As always when travelling, never enough time - but here are some suggestions of 10 things to see and do, which will at least hopefully inspire a visit.

10 photos of one day in Bruges
Explore the canals

i) Explore Her Canals

To walk along her canals is to discover the medieval heart of Bruges. The town grew on trade, and her waterways gave her access to trading ports.

Now the canals are lines with gracious houses and picturesque bridges; white swans drifts by, and the sun plays upon the water. Boat tours (with a commentary in multiple languages, naturally) offer an ideal way to see this town from the water.

10 photos of one day in Bruges
A side entrance to the hospital

ii) Visit Sint-Janshospitaal

Dating from the 12th century, Sint-Janshospitaal is Europe’s oldest preserved hospital, and was still being used up until 1978. Now it is a museum of the world of medieval medicine, with even the apothecary and herb garden remaining.

And not to be missed: 6 masterpieces from the most famous of the Flemmish Primitives, Hans Memling (1430-1493) painted specifically for the hospital.

Michelangelo in Bruges

iii) Michelangelo in Bruges.

Not the best photo, for which I apologise. I just wasn't expecting to find a work by Michelangelo in Bruges.
Dating from 1501-4, his Madonna and Child sits in the Church of Our Lady, and is the only statue of Michelangelo's to leave Italy during his lifetime.

10 Photos of One Day in Bruges
The 15th C Kruispoort

iv) Bruges' Town Gates

Fortifications once surrounded this town, and four of Bruges' town gates remain, marking the limit of the old city. This includes the Kruispoort, which was begun in 1401 on the site of an older gate.

10 Photos of One Day in Bruges
So many museums to visit

v) Visit the Museums and Galleries of Bruges

Bruges boasts a plethora of museums, from the Groeninge Museum with its impressive collection of Flemish works (an exhibition of the Flemish Primitives was on display during my visit), the Memling Museum, to modern art galleries. There is even a diamond museum. No matter how short a stay, there is enough time to see at least one.

10 Photos of One Day in Bruges
The Bonne Cherie Windmill

vi) See the windmills

Bruges was once a town of windmills, producing the flour needed to feed a growing population. Now only four  remain, standing beside a canal along the line on the original fortifications. They have all been lovingly restored.

10 Photos of One Day in Bruges
The stepped roofline of Bruges

vii) Simply look around you.

Bruges is truly a town for sight seeing. So much is all around - take time to sit and enjoy, watch the world go by. Wander and foot and see what can be discovered down hidden laneways and cobbled streets. And don't forget to look up and see the classic stepped roof line of the houses, designed as an escape route in the event of a fire.

10 photos of One Day in Bruges
Carvings of Chocolate

viii) A chocolate museum, of course.

Chocolate shops abound in Bruges - I defy you to visit the city and not leave with some. Then there is Choco Story, a chocolate museum dedicated to the history and production of chocolate (the earliest evidence dates to 600 BC) complete with chocolate carvings on display. Plus, the price of admission comes with some free samples!
10 photos of One Day in Bruges
Outside the Basilica

ix) The Basilica of The Holy Blood

Such a great name, I had to visit. It consists of two chapels, with the lower one being Bruges' oldest building, dating from the 12th C. In the Upper Chapel is a crystal phial said to contain a relic of Christ's blood. It was brought back from the Second Crusade by Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders.

10 photos of One Day in Bruges
Simply wander

x) Explore
Because of the canals, none of the streets in the Old town run in a straight line - making it perfect for simply wandering and getting lost. At every turn lies a moss-covered bridge, a centuries-old restaurant, or a carpet of fallen leaves.
Aiming for the other side of town, I somehow emerged at the Bus Depot. Plunging back into the maze of streets, I found a restaurant in a 17th C wooden building. I began with a kir royale, followed by pheasant with braised witlof and figs. Another day I dined on golden fish soup brimming with shrimp and a variety of cold-water fish, followed by salmon with a shrimp sauce.
So, explore!

The Literary Traveller First published in 1892, Bruges-la-Morte is often described as the archetypicalSymbolistic novel. Written by the Belgian author Georges Rodenbach, it is also the first novel illustrated with photographs. The evocative, almost poetic style evokes a dying city, reflecting the emotions of a man, grieving for his wife, obsessed with death.

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