Bruges (Brugge Flemish name) is, for one thing, the best preserved medieval city in Europe, the most visited in Belgium and a serious candidate for the title of the most romantic city on the continent.
There is little to start thinking of going there. A sort of living museum of the thirteenth century, stagnated at 5 centuries ago, due to silting of its outlet to the sea, with its old houses, aristocratic palaces and churches along the many canals.
Bruges is undoubtedly one of the gems of Northern Europe, which offers the visitor a rich combination of history and Flemish architectural splendours in a downtown compact and walkable, which was recognized World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000 (in 2002 was also the European Capital of Culture). Bruges was one of the commercial and cultural capitals of Europe, the big warehouse of the continent, and has developed links with most of the known world. During the period when trading began its decline, Bruges saw the flowering of Flemish primitive painting school, represented by its greatest exponent Jan van Eyck (author of the famous Arnolfini Portrait). The city is also famous for its lace, made by very skilled craftsmen who may have seen working on their doorstep.
The place from which to start exploring the city has already cited the market square, the Markt, on which stands the colossal figure of the bell tower, the Belfry, and Burg, another square a short walk from the Markt, that has a series of splendid buildings, which together synthesise a journey through the history of European architecture. At this point, Baldwin Iron Arm, Count of Flanders, built a fortified castle (or “castle”), which developed around the whole city. Not far from these focal points, the city also boasts some of the most important art collections in the country. The Groeninge Museum houses the finest collection of art, especially Flemish, of the city, while the Stadhuis the fourteenth century, the oldest municipality of the whole of Belgium, has frescoes on the walls. For a spectacular view over the city climb the 366 steps of Belfort, the bell tower. Among the magnificent buildings that testify of its former glory, the Gothic Cathedral of the Holy Saviour, the Basilica of Holy Blood, in addition to the aforementioned market square, the Town Hall and the Halles.
The Basilica of the Sacred Blood is composed of two chapels on each other, that of St. Basil the bottom, in the Romanesque style, the upper hand, Gothic fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the latter preserves the relic of the Holy Blood, kept in a chest of gold and silver studded with precious stones. Valuable paintings in the school of Van Dyck, wooden carvings, pieces of jewelery, a marble altar and a curious pulpit-shaped globe. Every year in May, Ascension Day, since 1291 there is a procession in costume of the Holy Blood (Heilig Bloed), recreates biblical stories and the Passion. The town dresses up and this is a good time to visit. The precious object that is carried in procession is a medieval reliquary that traditionally contains the blood of Christ.
Another striking celebration of the Feast Channels which is celebrated every three years, with the channels illuminated by candlelight and extras that reproduce scenes from the history of the city into real living pictures.
In Bruges can be reached by Ryanair to Brussels and then by train (50 minutes). To get to Bruges, in the north-east of the country by land you can take a train from Antwerp or Brussels. Buses from Antwerp to Calais and London pass by this city. From Bruges you can also make day trips to famous battlefields covered with poppies of Flanders.
Careful not to miss the opportunity to go to the top of the bell tower (belfry) high 83 yards for a panoramic view over the city, and take a boat ride through the waterways of the ancient city. In winter every year from the third week of November to about mid-January we held a festival curious than the sculptures of ice and snow. Sparkling and gigantic ice sculptures, the work of artists from around the world, are visible every day from 10 to 19. The masterpieces are kept inside a tent heat of 1200 square meters, at a constant temperature of -5 °, compulsory gloves, jacket and hat.