"Brugge, Venice of the North" Brugge by Christophe_Ons
Brugge Travel Guide: 2,717 reviews and 7,154 photos
At one point, Bruges (Brugge in Dutch) was one of the most important trading posts throughout Europe. It was the hub of the wool, lace and diamond industries and home to the world's first stock echange. However, as soon as the Zwin estuary started to slit up, the city lost its vital link to the North Sea. Before long, merchants and traders had left Brugge and by the 16th century the town went into hibernation for more than three centuries, missing out on the Industrial Revolution and prosperity the rest of the country knew.
It wasn't until the 19th century, when hundreds of Brits were living in "Bruges", word about this town's sleepy charm began to spread - "a place that had not changed for centuries". This statement, however, is not entirely true. While Brugge has many historic landmarks and buildings, much of Bruges was renovated in the "matching" medieval style to appeal to tourists.
Today's Bruges has a population of about 45.000 people (the old center) or 120.000 people (center together with the suburbs). These numbers clearly show that Bruges is not a tiny miniature city. It ranks, even today, among the important cities of Belgium. It is also the capital of the Belgian province of West-Flanders. A lot of people take day-trips from Brussels to Bruges, but there is too much to see here in just one day... Late in the evening, when all the tourists have gone, Bruges finds back its charm and quiet of old times. When one is lucky with the weather, a stroll through the tiny medieval streets can be an enchanting experience. Bruges is always beautiful, in the summertime as well as in the wintertime. Lucky visitors will never forget the city after they have seen it on a snowy December or January day.
Bruges is unique, in the sense that here the town authorities have done the utmost to preserve the medieval-looking image of the city. Of course, not every stone in Bruges has come to us straight from the Middle-Ages. The 19th century neo-gothic style is more present than one should think. Because of these 19th century renovations, some critics have put Bruges down as a 'fake' medieval city. However, the combination of old, not so old and new fascinates everyone who first sets foot in Bruges ...
- Pros:Step back in time. Brugge is a one of a kind gothic, romantic and -albeit not entirely authentic- "medieval" town.
- Cons:Very, and I mean VERY touristy. Venture off the beaten path every now and then for some "undiscovered" spots.
- In a nutshell:When in Europe, a must see.
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