| Bruges (in Dutch: Brugge)
Located in the province of West Flanders in Belgium, Bruges can be coined ‘Venice of the North’. Rightfully so. This city, which amazingly covers an area of 138 squared kilometers, is filled with canals that eventually connect to the sea. Between the 12th and 15th centuries, this connection brought about the Golden Era for the city. It was located at the crossroads of the northern and southern trading routes, giving rise to a harbour and commercial center for Europe.
After the 1500’s, the main channels from the sea started silting and Bruges’ Golden Era came to an end. Several efforts were made to revive the cities popularity but to no avail. Antwerp became the new ‘it’ city. Bruges lost it’s appeal and it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that it started becoming a popular tourist attraction. Today, the city is filled with tourists walking the streets and enjoying scenic boat rides in the romantic canals.
The most notable aspect of Bruges is that it has kept it’s medieval architecture in tact. If you are interested in visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, then Bruges’ historic center has been on the list since 2000.
Brugge welcomed us with rain but brightened up a bit as the day went on. We walked around the town just enjoying the sights, the canals and architecture. It is such a beautiful city! The characteristic brick Gothic that adorns the architecture of the town, is what gives the city it’s charm. For anyone unsure what brick Gothic is, I did some research. Believe me, I had no idea either. This is a specific style of Gothic architecture that is commonly found in the Northern parts of Europe. These parts of Europe had limited sources of natural stone, so they built using actual baked bricks. The brick Gothic style differs from the other widespread Gothic styles because it lacks the characteristic figural architectural sculptures.
As we walked the cobblestone streets, it began to rain, we quickly put on our plastic rain covers. We came across a small corner bakery called Van Mullem Servaas Patisserie. We decided this was a good time to take a break and escape the rain. Was this ever a heavenly treat. They had a large assortment of pastries and baked goods. It took us so long to choose our treats that it stopped raining. With our rain coats still on, we sat outside to enjoy the goodies. If this photo doesn’t make your mouth water, than I don’t know what would. I highly recommend stopping by here.
Church of Our Lady
Unfortunately, during our visit the facade was being renovated. It is definitely a site to visit. The church is built purely out of brick and the tower, standing 122.3 meter tall, is considered the second tallest brick tower in Europe. It is also the home to Michelangelo’s sculpture of Madonna and Child, the churches most celebrated art piece.
- Beginning at about 1050, the connection to the sea was lost as a result of silting. In 1134 a storm had reestablished the connection through a new channel at Zwin.
- In 1616 a ban was put in place on using wood in building facades.
- Michelangelo’s sculpture of Madonna and Child at the Church Lady of Peace, is believed to be his only sculpture to leave Italy during his lifetime.
(sources: wikipedia.com, whc.unesco.org)