June 2008

Brugge is a town of about 100,000 people located in Belgium about 10 miles from the ocean and 1 hours train ride from Brussels. Between the 12th and 15th century it was an economic power in the wool and cloth industries. However in the 16th century its channel to the sea began to silt and it experienced a decline until the 20th century. Since it was never damaged during the world wars and the industrial revolution passed it by, it's buildings have not changed much in hundreds of years, making it much like a living museum of life in the middle ages.

There are two squares in Brugge, the Burg and Market Square. Pictured here is the Burg, the birthplace of Brugge as this was the location of the first castle built to defend the coast against invading Norsemen.

The Burg contains the City Hall to the right and the Old Chambers to the left. The City Hall's facade is from the 14th century and it contains portrayals of biblical figures as well as people from Flanders' past. The Chambers dates from the 16th century and until the 1980's was a court building.

The final picture of the Burg has a restaurant where we stopped by upon our arrival on Saturday night at 11:30 pm for a glass of beer and hot tea.

Like Amsterdam where he had been the night before Brugge has canals throughout the city. In the background is the Belfry while in the foreground to the right is our hotel, (the white building). Our room was right on the canal and it was probably the nicest room and setting of any hotel we stayed at in Europe.

We took a short boat ride on the canals hoping to learn a bit about the city and get some good pictures. This is one of the nicer houses, with flowers outside the windows and the older wood style construction.

Throughout the city there are niches where statues of the Virgin Mary are placed as Mary is the patron of the city of Brugge.

An interesting architectural feature of a number of buildings are turrets. The building closest in this picture has one of the larger ones we saw.

This building has two turrets and another theme you see in the city, the chalet style of construction with the triangular facade to the building.

In addition to the chalet appearance a large number of buildings had the facades with the steps up to the top. We were not sure of the reason for this style but it was very common.

In the Middle ages boats travelled in the same direction we were heading but they had to moor their boats where the statue now resides in order to pay their tolls on their way to Market Square.

Inside Bruges Church of Our Lady is the only sculpture of Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime. Mother with Child was purchased by a Brugge merchant in 1506 and moved to the city during it's heyday.

On Brugge's lake of love, called Minnewater is the Powder Tower, what used to be a warehouse for gun powder and an important part of the old town wall.

Belgium is famous for chocolate, beer and also Flemish tapestries. You can travel throughout Europe and in almost anywhere you go there are Flemish tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries. Here inside Saint Salvador's Cathedral are three of eight tapestries dating from the late 17th century.

In the Market Square stands the 275 foot Belfry, with sections that date from the 13th century. The Belfry is not a church or a town hall, but a symbol of freedom and wealth, not unusual for Flemish towns in the Middle Ages.

In one of the churches a bit of the beaten path is this pulpit with the elaborate carvings of people and animals.