“It’s a fairytale place. There are canals, stone bridges, stone streets, churches and swans that exist in fairy tales. I hope to go to Bruges again before I die.” —- “In Bruges”
Bruges is a city that seems to be less familiar. Perhaps you still remember the scenes of this medieval town in the movie “in Bruges”. The canal slowly surrounds the whole city and it shows its beauty quietly and gently. This is what Bruges originally looks like.
The standard lifestyle of the Bruges is to ride a bicycle🚴♀️ on a cobbled street, to drink a glass of craft beer🍺 at the restaurant on the side of the square. When the sunset🌇 comes and the whole city is getting dark, we can sit on the edge of the canal and enjoy the ease and leisure.
1. Market Square
The square where Belfort’s clock tower is located is the most appeared attraction in the movie “in Bruges”. The square is known as the top 5 beautiful squares in Europe surrounded by 15th-century Dutch-style buildings. The bronze statue is built in the center for commemorating the hero who was against the 14th century “Battle of the Golden Spurs” against French rule. On the south side of the square is the iconic clock tower of Bruges, on the east side is the Gothic government building and the post office. There are buildings with the mountain-shaped roofs that are like Christmas ginger biscuits. All of these make the square like a fairy tale world. These buildings often appears in various travel advertisements and merchandise packages in Bruges.
2. Bruges Clock Tower
The clock tower on the market square was built between the 13th and 15th centuries. It’s a world cultural heritage. The upper part is octagonal. The clock tower is the symbol of Bruges that symbolizes freedom and power. The clock tower is 88 meters high. There are 366 grades of rotating stone steps (the top part is a wooden staircase). The earliest function of the clock tower is for showing the time. The bell tower plays a wonderful bell every 15 minutes. This bell is called to be superior in Europe. Its main instrument is 47 ancient clocks. This is the highest point of Bruges, so it’s the place to overlook the whole city. The red roofs make Bruges as a fairy tale world.
3. Minnewater Park
It’s said that there was a girl who escaped from marriage for her real love and finally died in the lake, so it was named Love Lake. It is also called Swan Lake because there are so many swans perching in the lake. The lakeside scenery is quiet and beautiful. On one side is the holy Beguinage and on another side is the red brick house. The free swan is playing in the lake or resting on the shore. The story of the ugly duckling to swan is being played every day. Some swans on the lake are full of feathers and white foreheads. Some swans are with the furry and gray feathers, and their foreheads are flat. The older swans are elegant and the younger ones are cute. They have their own delights. Sitting at the lake and watching the swan of different shapes swimming are pleasant.
4. City Hall
The city hall of Bruges built between the 13th and 14th centuries is one of the oldest town halls in Belgium. It’s located in Borg Square and adjacent to the Church of the Holy Blood. The building of the City Hall is of late Gothic style. The front six spires are arranged vertically with novel style and unique features. The exterior wall of the city hall is engraved with reliefs. The content of the these reliefs is based on Bible stories and historical figures. The image is vivid. This creamy Gothic building is majestic with beautiful interiors and exteriors， which shows the once glory of Bruges – the richest and most prosperous city in Europe.
5. Basilica of the Holy Blood
The Church of the Holy Blood is located next to the City Hall and was originally built in the 12th century. In 1159, the Flanders Count Theodoric took the “Holy Blood” of Jesus back from the Holy Land (it is said that the blood was sent by Baldwin III). On the front of the church, the gold-plated figure holding the sword on the lower right side of the picture is the Earl who take back the Holy Blood. The church is small, but the decoration is very stunning and beautiful. The small bottle of holy blood is placed in front of the main altar. Many believers are very devoutly lined up to pay homage to the Holy Blood. Even if they are not believers, they are also infected by a strong religious atmosphere. The church has two floors, the lower level is the Basilica of Saint-Basil. It’s the place said to enshrine part of the remains of the Sao Paulo who is a theologian of the East in the 4th century, a Christian saint and one of the four great sages of the East.
6. Church of Our Lady
The church of Our Lady that combines several styles was established from the 13th to the 15th centuries and has been remodeled several times during the period. The 122 meters high tower fits the style of Bruges. This church looks magnificent from the outside although it’s not the main church of Bruges. The church is made up of red bricks and is the tallest brick church in the European continent. The thing makes local people most proud inside the church that is the statue of Michelangelo – the Virgin and the Child. Its uniqueness is that it has five identical halls. Its solemnity and cleanliness are fascinating. Its perfection and unity are intoxicating. The Church of Our Lady has five distinct levels from high to low with light and shadow, which adds a lot of fantasies and thoughts to the original mysterious atmosphere of the church.
7. St. Salvatorskathedraal
The St. Salvatorskathedraal is the oldest and the largest church in Bruges built in the 12th century. It was built between 1280 and 1350. It suffered the destruction of four major fires and the French Revolution. The most distinctive part of the church is its elegant and luxurious top of the golden dome. It was appointed as the main church due to the destruction of the main church that once located in the castle square. The church museum displays works by Flemish painters and furniture. On Wednesday evenings in July and August, the music concerts take place in the church.
Bruges has preserved many gates from the 13th to the 14th centuries with a gate respectively at each side. The construction of the old city gate is strong and simple. Outside the city gate is a modern road and canal. You can see a few swans swimming freely in the river from time to time. The city gate of full vicissitudes in the sunset is extremely shocking.
It’s the Beguin Church behind the wall next to the Swan Lake that is lower – key than the Church of the Holy Blood. It is an extremely quiet monastery. The grass in the courtyard is flourishing, and the white walls and red tiles are pleasant. The rise of the Beguin Church is closely related to the Crusades. As early as the 12th century, men participated in the holy war, and a large part of them never returned. Their wives hope to use their family wealth to do something for the society. As a result, these devout women have created a self-sufficient religious group and provided relief food to the poor. Therefore, the Beguin Church has emerged and this charitable approach is part of a strong “giving and request” culture in the region. On the one hand, people attach great importance to business. On the other hand, people are full of fear of God. This is not contradictory. “If you are rich and want to enter heaven after death, then it is best to donate some of your money to help people in need.” It’s the revelation that the Beguin Church conveys to us.
The town of Damme in the northeast of Bruges is a small town built in the 12th century as a port of Bruges. We can go there by taking a cruise along the canal. It is also ideal to rent a bicycle and ride along the canal that is at the east of Bruges’ old town. In this way can you do admire the idyllic beauty of the Belgian countryside. The town hall in Damme is a 15th-century Gothic building.