"Brugge, Venice of the North" Brugge by Christophe_Ons

Brugge Travel Guide: 2,688 reviews and 7,166 photos

The town that slept for more than 300 years ...

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 and Cons
  • 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.
  • Intro Updated Sep 14, 2005
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Reviews (28)

Comments (13)

  • lmkluque's Profile Photo
    Mar 15, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Thanks for the wonderful tour and the memories you brought back. Friends in Mons gave me the gift of a day in Bruges. I wish I could have stayed longer than a day.

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    May 3, 2007 at 8:45 PM

    Quality pages, genuine 5 star.

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Nov 18, 2006 at 4:07 PM

    Thanks for taking me walking through Brugge. I've been preoccupied with this city lately. It's calling to me. Better start saving for another trip!

  • CALSF's Profile Photo
    Dec 8, 2005 at 9:11 AM

    Truly amazing photographs of a place I would love to visit and should make plans to realize this really! Great tips too! I enjoyed the shopping tips alot: beer, chocolates, and souvenirs. Those are pretty much what matter most. :)

  • themajor's Profile Photo
    Apr 26, 2005 at 12:00 AM

    Splendid photographs, good tips and first rate advice about the difference between optical and digital zoom! I must come over to Belgium soon - if there are any Christmas Markets starting at the end of November, I''ll be over!

  • ExGuyParis's Profile Photo
    Sep 26, 2004 at 2:46 PM

    Your page makes me understand why my sister fell in love with this place and returned several times. I'll consult this page before my visit-- soon, I hope!

  • dlandt's Profile Photo
    May 11, 2004 at 7:24 PM

    I've heard it touristy too, why I chose Antwerp instead, but very nice page. You have a great eye for photos. Alle beste

  • Gwynneth's Profile Photo
    May 2, 2004 at 10:56 PM

    Simply beautiful photography of a place I've never heard of but long to see after your introduction. Thank you.

  • gigi_huang's Profile Photo
    Apr 25, 2004 at 5:41 AM

    Hi Chris, I like your Brugge page veyy much. Just back from there, and it's really a romantic place to go. Walking on the cobble street, one feels like going back to the medieval years!

  • jessicafeeling's Profile Photo
    Apr 22, 2004 at 9:28 AM

    impressive pics, chris. I have to say u r very good at it, very artistic photos u made! I enjoy it and wish to visit this city, did u fall in love with her so that made u did such a good job? ;-)

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“All generalizations are false, including this one. (Mark Twain)”

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