I’ve already written about the great spring day my younger son and I had last year biking around picturesque Bruges. But I also wanted to spotlight this stunning town, whether you plan on exploring on two wheels or two feet.
If you’re taking public transport, Bruges is an easy train ride from Brussels. We came here after stopping off in pretty Gand/Gent, and took a train direct from Bruges back to Brussels at the end of our day.
I had been to Bruges many years ago, but it has really boomed as a tourist destination since then. It’s a picturesque Flemish medieval town straddling the Zwin River. Heavy industry never reached Bruges as it did with many neighboring cities, which allowed all its striking, medieval architecture to be perfectly preserved.
Unlike other Belgian towns, Bruges was fortunate not to have suffered much damage during the two World Wars, another reason for which the buildings are so perfectly preserved.
Bruges began as a fortress in the IXth century, constructed to protect then coast from Viking invaders. Viking invasions would soon give way to successive French invasions, but that didn’t stop Bruges from developing into one of then most elegant cities of northern Europe.
It became an important city for trade, particularly the international textile industry that flourished here from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. It was during this period where so many of the spectacular buildings, palaces and churches were built.
When in Bruges, there is so much to see. We loved crossing over all the bridges to the canals, all dotted so perfectly with swans. The medieval walls are in tact, and we also biked around their circumference – enjoying all the windmills perfectly spaced along the perimeter.
The Stadhuis – town hall – boasts being one of the oldest and most beautiful in Belgium. Built between 1376 and 1420, it has an ornate, Gothic style. The statues of the nobility of Flanders are modern reproductions of the originals that were destroyed by the French army.
We loved all the medieval homes surrounding the medieval Market Square. Sadly, we weren’t there for the mid-week market day, but it would be worth coming back to see that. After all, it’s been a tradition since the tenth century…
It was a gorgeous day, so we did enjoy ourselves sitting under the sun on Market Square and eating delicious Belgian waffles.
We didn’t have time to climb the Belfort, as we did in Gand. The XVth century tower is 83 meters tall and is the symbol of Bruges. This is another thing to do next time, as the views over then medieval town must be spectacular.
We loved our perfect day in Bruges and look forward to a return visit to visit all the swans and admire the medieval architecture once again.