BrugesPlaces that stir all your senses and that pluck your heartstrings are extremely rare. These are the places that touch you deeply, yet whose secrets you can’t unlock completely. Bruges happens to be such a unique place. Cultural and artistic, cosmopolitan, unashamedly Burgundian, mysteriously medieval, and a Unesco World Heritage site to boot. Strolling along the narrow alleys, picturesque canals and verdant ramparts you cannot help but fall hopelessly in love with its elegant mysteriousness.
History in a NutshellAlthough the Bruges region was already populated in Roman times, the city’s name appears for the first time in the 9th century, probably derived from the Old Germanic word ‘brugj’, which means ‘mooring’. Bruges has always had a special bond with the sea. After all, water played a crucial role in the city’s foundation. It was the place where several streams merged into a single river (the ‘Reie’), which flowed north into the coastal plain. This river was linked to the North Sea through a series of ‘tidal channels’, guaranteeing the city’s future welfare and prosperity.
Visit Bruges 360°A virtual exploration of Bruges in all its glory – a 360° tour of at least 25 locations in the heart of the city.
UNESCO World Heritage CityThe Beguinage architectural complex was recognised as a world heritage site in 1998. One year later, the Belfry was also added to the world heritage list, followed by the entire historical city centre in 2000. Bruges boasts a valuable structural heritage and is a fine example of an architecturally homogeneous city, particularly famous for its brick Gothic buildings. What’s more, the authentic and organically grown medieval city fabric has remained well preserved, while Bruges also has served as the cradle of the Flemish primitives — Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling in particular. Reasons enough for UNESCO to grant Bruges the label of ‘world heritage city’, something the city and its people are rightly proud of. The city’s intangible heritage is also greatly valued. Since as far back as 1304, the relic of the Holy Blood has been carried around the city in the Holy Blood Procession on Ascension Day each year. This folk tradition involves everyone in the city and was recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009. In November 2014, Belgian carillonneurs were also given significant international recognition when Belgian carillonneur culture — and all the people committed to it — was recognised as best practice in order to safeguard it as Intangible Cultural Heritage. The sound of the carillons (a percussion instrument consists of at least 23 cast bronze bells and is played with a keyboard) can be heard all around Bruges throughout the year. One of the best places to listen is on the Market Square or in the Belfry courtyard. In 2016, Belgium’s diverse beer culture was added to the Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The historic city of Bruges boasts two breweries and a beer museum, and Bruges’ woodlands and wetlands is home to many traditional brewers who are passionate about their craft. There are also many cafes, bars and restaurants in Bruges where you can appreciate beer culture.
Highlights of BrugesYou’ve only really seen Bruges if you’ve visited the classics. From the Rozenhoedkaai Instagrammable hotspot and the Market Square, through the Lake of Love and the canals, to the Beguinage, the almshouses and much more. The iconic sites give the city its look and charm you instantly. Centuries old, dazzlingly young — but always exceptionally impressive.
Romantic HotspotsSwans on the canals, a maze of medieval streets, the clatter of hooves, hidden parks, charming courtyards... There are no jarring notes to disturb this historic picture. Whether you picnic in Koningin Astridpark (Queen Astrid Park), linger on the Boniface Bridge, or savour the peace of the Beguinage — in Bruges, romance always hangs in the air. You’re sure to fall in love.
Discover BrugesWith Bruges, it’s love at first sight! Bruges is mysteriously medieval and unashamedly joyful. Though a city of human proportions, it takes a while to explore its wealth of treasures. The city owes its greatness to history and now wears its UNESCO World Heritage Site label with pride.
Cafes, Bars & NightlifeLooking for a cozy drink or a night on the town? Discover the many cafes & bars in Bruges.
EventsThere is no better way to fraternise with the townspeople of Bruges than to immerse yourself in the infectious ambiance at the innumerable events that sweep through the whole city.
Travelling to and in BrugesBruges is well connected nationally and internationally to the rest of the world. In close proximity to three airports and served by a robust railway network. You can also easily reach the city by car and leave your vehicle in a parking garage — try to explore the narrow streets on foot or by bike.
Do & See
Some places are so special, so breathtaking or so unique that you simply have to see them. Bruges is filled to the brim with wonderful witnesses of a prosperous past, whether they be peaceful and picturesque, spiritual or, on the contrary, extremely entertaining.
To savour and to feast, that’s what Bruges is all about. A land of plenty for lovers of the finest delicacies. Nowhere else will you find so many appetising culinary delights in such a compact area. Indeed, the citizens of Bruges themselves are mightily fond of authentic food and drink.
Although Bruges is often associated with the virtuosity and mastery of craftsmen from the past, today’s city is still a breeding ground for creative entrepreneurs of all kinds. You can find dozens of authentic shops, each offering that little extra something, often nestled alongside the more traditional and reputed art galleries and antique emporia. Shopping in Bruges is a veritable voyage of discovery, ranging from original and trendy newcomers, through vintage addresses that exude nostalgia, to classic establishments that have been run by the same family for generations.