In Old Norse, Bruges means â€œlanding stageâ€. The name is appropriate for the city sets quite the stage, staggering several attractions of performance. It is also a city where you donâ€™t really want to leave once you land. Its small streets weave throughout countless canals. The history stretches back 2,000 years when the Gallic Romans settled here. During the Middle Ages, Bruges would be the most important trading center in northwest Europe. Today, it is where the swans elegantly glide across canals and the camera can never take enough shots to capture such a beautiful city. Being in Bruges in not akin to any other city. Seemingly so fake and digitally constructed, Bruges is still the real deal. Image
Bruges is home to a number of squares you could just pick up and take home. Burg Square may be the heart of administrative Bruges, but it is not completely down to business. The gothic town hall stands in the square, one of the first monumental town halls in the Low Countries.
While the Burg Square deserves appropriate attention, it canâ€™t compete with the Market Square in Bruges. The largest of Brugesâ€™ town squares, the Market Square is expansive and idyllic. In the summertime, concerts are staged here, often to rowdy crowds. Any other time, the square is still abuzz with activity as it is the nerve of the city center. Find a cafÃ© along this stretch and admire the medieval style buildings, even if they arenâ€™t completely original.
Diamonds are forever in Bruges, especially at the Diamantmuseum. The museum showcases the cityâ€™s role as the first diamond-polishing center in medieval days. The Diamantmuseum itself houses the worldâ€™s two smallest diamond sculptures, at just 3 mm in diameter. While you canâ€™t really make out what these sculptures are supposed to be, you can still understand the diamond polishing process through the demonstrations conducted at the museum.
The best way to see Bruges is to take to the water. A canal boat trip takes you through the canals of Bruges. A number of tours are offered, usually departing from Georges Stael landing stage. If you have a fear of water, you can explore the Bruges canals by bike. Travelers can rent a bike in town and do as the locals do, pedal with a purpose.
One of the best parts of Bruges canal system comes at Groeneri. The short promenade leads you to one of Brugesâ€™ most picturesque, if thatâ€™s possible, bends. The route curves on to a bridge where you will meet two canals. Get the camera ready and start snapping. This is one of the best ways to see Brugesâ€™ turreted skyline.
The Maze-Like Streets
If you are arriving to Bruges by car, you might want to rethink those plans. The medieval center is one of the hardest to actually drive through, let alone get where you want to go. You can get lost for hours just trying to locate your hotel. The historic narrow streets donâ€™t warrant a car and neither does Bruges. You can walk almost anywhere here so ditch the wheels and find something more convenient to get around like your own two feet.
One of Western Europeâ€™s most visited medieval cities, you never have to wonder why Bruges is popular. While much of what you see in Bruges is a reconstruction, it has been renovated throughout the years to look just so perfect.
Written by: Suzy Guese