30 March 2012
Experience the Magic of a Day in Bruges
Thinking about Belgium, the first place that comes to mind is usually its Capital City, Brussels. However, there’s at least one more reason why this country is worth a holiday: the lovely town of Bruges. About 1 hour by train from Brussels, far from being a boring place – although very peaceful and quiet – this town is the perfect destination for a day trip during your holidays – or business trips – to Belgium.
The city of bicycles, the city of bridges, the city of red roofs, many epithets are used to address this picturesque medieval town situated in the north-west of the all too often ignored Belgium. Its fanciful Flemish architecture and higgledy-piggledy cobbled streets crossing the canals, its unusual museums and lovely spots, make Bruges a cute town that can be visited within a very short space of time.
The first place you should head to is the historical centre, a UNESCO World Heritage site which is easily explored on foot. The main square (Markt) is dominated by the Belfry Tower, holding the old treasure room, the impressive clock mechanism and the chimes of 47 bells. Climbing up the 366 steps of the stairway you can reach the top and enjoy the magnificent view over Bruges and the surrounding countryside.
Among the most remarkable religious landmarks: the Gothic style Eglise Notre-Dame, which holds elaborate baroque sculptures of saints and allegorical characters and Michelangelo’s beautiful figure La Madone et l’enfant; and the Cathedral of San Salvador, enshrined as the oldest in the city, dating back to the XI and XII centuries and characterized by a great tower of 100 meters with an ornate architecture.
Bruges is the oldest diamond city in Europe. For this reason, the city opened the Diamantmuseum in 1999, where you will discover the history of jewels as well as a collection of tools used for making diamonds and jewels.
Another interesting museum is the Musée de la Brasserie (museum of brewing) which retraces this long tradition introducing visitors to malt and hops.
Last but not least, the yummy food museum named Frietmuseum, the only museum in the world dedicated to the potato chip, a cult product in Belgium.
Bruges also offers delightful opportunities for souvenir shopping and pleasant evenings out. Délices de Bruges, for example, is a little shop made for those with a sweet tooth! Here you will have your fill of pralines, truffles, tuile biscuits, pretzels, chocolate rabbits and many other delights. The Café Vlissinghe is the oldest café in Bruges, the ideal place to have a drink with friends in a 100% Belgian atmosphere. At Wijnbar EST, not far from the fish market (Vismarkt) and close to the Queen Astrid Park, you can choose from nearly a hundred excellent wines here. 2 Be is right in the centre of Bruges, beside the landing stage for boat rides on the canals, and is a lovely souvenir shop focusing on Belgian products.
Spring is high season in Bruges: the flowers bloom and the cooler temperatures recede, this is the best period to visit the town. So enjoy your trip!
Photo by Neilhooting