Aug 28, 2010

Visit Bruges - A World Heritage Site

It is difficult to sum up Bruges (or Brugge) in a few words. The famed UNESCO World Heritage Site has medieval streets to wander, canals to explore, art to admire, and an entrancing charm that makes it one of Europe’s best-loved cities. Called the Venice of the North, Bruges is one of the world’s best-preserved medieval cities with over 600 years of history. Bruges:

1. Get acquainted: The historic center of the city is easy to navigate on foot but the best introduction to Bruges is achieved by hopping on the City Bus Tour departing from Market Square every hour on the hour. The 50-minute get-acquainted tour of the city stops at all the most important places in the city.

2. Canal Tour: The magic of Bruges comes shining through on a 30-minute, multi-lingual boat ride on the picturesque canals, where one can admire the city’s most beautiful sites from a totally different angle and learn the history of the city.

3. Market Square: The lively Market Square is always busy with shoppers and tourists. People watching is fun and the Market Square is the place to do it, it is also then to dine, but everyone should just sit in one of the cafes or restaurants and admire the gabled medieval buildings.

4. Belfry Tower: The 47-bell carillon in the 272-foot Belfry Tower peals out over the city every 15 minutes. Its lower section dates from 1240, with the corner turrets added in the 14th century and the upper, octagonal section in the 15th century.

5. Groeninge Museum: If there is only time for one museum it should be the Groeninge Museum with an excellent collection of Flemish medieval paintings. The Groeninge ranks among Belgium's leading museums of fine arts, with a collection that covers paintings in the Low Countries from the 15th to the 20th centuries.

6. Church of Our Lady: The gothic Church of our Lady is well worth the visit to see the small marble statue of Michelangelo's Madonna and Child. It is the only known piece of Michaelangelo's artwork to leave Italy during his lifetime.

7. The Fools: Visit the Halve Maan Brewery for a taste of Bruges Zot, Brugge Fool, the only beer brewed in the town center. While Bruges Zot may be the newest brew, the brewery as been around since the 1500, and in use in "modern" times since 1856.

8. Yummy! Everything you wanted to know about chocolate including the evolution of hot chocolate from its first known uses by the Incas and Aztecs is found at the Chocolate Museum. The tour ends with a chocolate making demonstration and a yummy sample.

9. Lace: One special remembrance to take home it has to be something made of lace. Before making a purchase learn about the lace at the lace museum. It is combination workshop, museum, and sales room where the ancient art of lace making is passed on to the next generation.

10. Day trips: Making Bruges home base for exploring the area is a great idea. The most popular day trips are to Flanders. For a do-it-yourself trip visit Damme, a pretty and historic village less than five miles from Bruges.

There is plenty more to see and do in Bruges. Visit the Town Hall, Diamond Museum, Folklore Museum, Memling Museum, and the Basilica of the Holy Blood. For more information check