Bruges is the largest city and subsequently the capital of the West Flanders province in the flemish region of Belgium. This historic city is considered as an UNESCO world heritage site. It is a canal-based city, like Amsterdam and thus is known as "The Venice of the North". It city covers a total of 430 hectares with a population of 118 053. It lies just 300 kilometers north of Paris.
Things to do & Places to see in Bruges, Belgium
1. Groeninge Museum
Groeninge Museum is Bruges municipal museum. It is found in the Groeninge district of Bruges. Since 1930 it has served to centralize all paintings and art that were spread all around the city. The Groeninge Museum displays a history of Belgian art with a great emphasis on primitive Flemish pieces of art. The museum is home to many great masterpieces that have been preserved over the centuries such as pieces like Moreel Triptych by Hans Memling and The Virgin and Child with Canon Van Der Paele by Jan van Eyck. There are marvelous pieces from the 18th and 19th century neoclassical period, modern post-war art and of course brilliant examples of Flemish expressionism. The museum is not only extremely famous for its permanent exhibitions but also the exceptional temporary exhibitions it plays host to on a regular basis.
The museum is open every day of the week except for Monday, from 9:30 am until 17:00 pm. It costs €8 per adult.
2. Market Square of Bruges
The market square of Bruges is definitely a must see when visiting the city. It really doesn't get any more picturesque than the beautiful old gothic/belgian looking square. The most awe striking building of the square is the Belfry which was built and renovated between the 13th and 15th centuries. The best part about the Belfry is that you can climb the tower to acquire a breath-taking view of the whole of Bruges. The Belfry of Bruges has been home to a carillon since the 15th century. It still works to this day indicating to the city what the time is every 15 minutes between 7am and 9pm every day. On the left side of the square, facing the Belfry, lies the Provincial Palace that is home to governor of West Flanders. It is a neo-gothic styled building that was built in the latter part of the 19th century. On the right side of the square you can find the Cranenburg House. Which dates back to 1488, as it was the location where the emperor of Austria, Maximilian was incarcerated.
There is of course a market featured in the square where you can browse some local flemish delicacies whilst admiring the beautiful buildings that surround you.
3. Castle Square of Bruges
Lying adjacent to the market square is the castle square of Bruges, which was originally the location of first count's castle, which was built in defense of the raids by the Vikings at the time. Thus receiving its name "castle" square. This square played a huge role for many centuries as it was the center of military, administrative and judicial matters. There was also once a cathedral in the square called the St. Donaas that formed the religious part of the square. However it was demolished in the 1800s during the french occupation. There are some beautiful striking buildings that also reside within the square. One of these is the Bruges City Hall. This magnificent building was designed with enormous, immaculate detail, its almost something out of this world. It has a 14th century facade that depicts important characters and biblical figures from the Flanders history.The first floor has a gothic design and is open to the public for viewing. Lying to the right of the city hall is the Basilica of the Holy Blood which is the oldest building in Bruges, dating back to the 12th century. It is believed that a count once was given a few drops of Jesus's blood in Jerusalem during the crusades, and thus brought the relic back to Flanders. It is at the Basilica of The Holy Blood that the relics are stored in the upper channel. It is here that every year a holy blood procession takes place. There are parts of basilica that are open to viewing to the public, it is only inside though that one can truly appreciate the beauty of the architecture from the 12th century in Belgium. On the other side of the city hall lies the The Chambers or Oude Griffie. It has a beautiful renaissance facade from the 16th century, decorated with historical figurines like that of the basilica. Because it played the role of court building until almost recently, the goddess Justitia is displayed on the building too!
4. Huisbrouwerij de Halve Maan
The Huisbrouwerij de Halve Maan or Half Moon brewery is a well-known historic brewery found in the center of Bruges. It was initially a home brewery but is now a lot more popular. It has been in the same family for the last six generations, having originated in 1856. It is at this famous brewery were Bruge's most famous beer the "Brugse Zot" is brewed. The beer is uniquely strong tasting and has been highly fermented. The beer is based on hops, barley and a special kind of yeast. The brewery installed a 3 kilometer pipeline from the brewery to their bottling warehouse that is situated in the suburbs just last year! A pipeline just for beer!
There are daily tours available to view the brewing process with a reward of a blond Brugse zot at the end of the tour. The brewery is open every day from 10 am until 6 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays and from 10am until 11pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Cost of admission is only €9.
How Do I Get Here From Paris?
The easiest way to get to Bruges from Paris is of course to take the railway. You would take the railway from the Paris Nord station to Bruxelles midi station. This would take under an hour and a half. It could cost anything between €120 and €180. From there you can walk to the Bruxelles Nord station and take a train from there to Bruges. This would take just under an hour. This would cost around €14,70.