This is the main square of the city. In here you find a lot of restaurants, important buildings and statues. Since 958 this plaza was used as a marketplace and since 985 as a weekly market. In 1995 the Markt Square was completely renovated and it was when it has become traffic-free.
- Belfort van Brugge (Belfry of Bruges)
The 83-metre high Belfort from the 13th century is the most iconic building in the Markt Square. To get to the top you have to climb 366 narrow stairs but the effort is well rewarded – the view of the city and surroundings is impressive. On the way up there are two rooms -the old treasury – where the city’ stamps, seals, and funds were kept during the Middle Ages. On the second room – the carilloneur’s chamber at the level of the impressive clock you can see the keyboard now used for the carillon bells. The carillon in the tower consists of 47 bells and there is a carilloneur who plays the bells on Wednesday, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 12 pm. Since 1999, this has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage building.
- Provinciaal Hof (Provincial Court)
Both the exterior and the interior are in neo-Gothic style. The Provincial Court is the former meeting place for the provincial government of West Flanders.
- Historium Brugge
In the Historium Exhibition you can learn about Bruges in the medieval era. The Historium Virtual Reality takes you back to 1435. You are taken to a virtual tour around the city, the traditions and lifestyle during this time. On the top the building you have a panoramic terrace where you can enjoy the view of the city.
- Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck
This statue on the center of the Markt Square represents Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck – two freedom heroes in the struggle against the French at the beginning of the 14th century.
Jan van Eyck and Museums
- Jan van Eyck Square
As we are talking about the statues I couldn’t forget to mention the Flemish painter, Jan van Eyck. He is regarded as the founder of the early renaissance also called the norther renaissance style of painting. He is also known as the inventor of an unique style of oil painting and as one of the first great portrait painting masters of Europe.
In this square you also have @Tattie’s, a really cute and small restaurant where we had breakfast (see in Bruges – Where to Eat and Drink?)
This is the main museum in Bruges. The collection consists in a comprehensive survey of six centuries of Flemish and Belgian painting. The Flemish Primitives are a high point of the museum, however you can also appreciate 18th and 19th-century neoclassical pieces, masterpieces from Flemish Expressionism and post-war modern art.
The ticket was 12 euros and with it we could not only visit this museum but also the Arentshuis.
Adress: Dijver 12, 8000 Brugge
This elegant townhouse from the 18-century displays the art collection of Frank Brangwyn (1867–1956), a Bruges-born artist of Welsh parentage. The Brangwyn collection is highly varied and includes paintings, watercolors, drawings, graphics, furniture, tapestries, and pottery. The ground floor is the setting mainly for temporary collections with graphics from the Print Room and works from the 19th and 20th centuries from Groeningemuseum.
Adress: Dijver 16, 8000 Brugge
Burg Square is located in the center of the city, very close to the Markt Square. The buildings in Burg Square represent a variety of architectural styles from Gothic to Renaissance to the Neo-Classic. As example of Renaissance architecture we have the old Court of Justice. As example of the Gothic we the Stadhuis or Town Hall.
In this square is also where you find the Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed (Basilica of the Holy Blood) where the relic of the Holy Blood is kept. The basilica may go unnoticed especially when compared to the majestic Stadhuis, however the basilica has a lot to offer. The basilica consists with two different levels – a Romanesque lower chapel austere with very little decoration. On the upper floor we have a Gothic chapel full of vibrant colors. The name of this basilica is due to a relic kept inside: a vial containing a small piece of cloth said to be stained with drops of blood of Jesus. The relic was brought to Bruges following the Crusades by the ount of Flanders. This relic can be found together with other treasuries in the museum inside the basilica. The ticket to enter into the museum costs 2.5 euros.
Onze Lieve Vrouw Brugge
Onze Lieve Vrouw Brugge or the Church of our Lady with its 111.5 meters high dominates the skyline of the city. It took two centuries(13th to 15th century) to be built. If the outside of this church is definitely impressive, the inside does not disappoint with its displayed valuable art collection including 13th-century painted sculptures and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. However the true masterpiece here is Michelangelo’s world-famous Madonna and Child, a marble sculpture of Mary with the Child Jesus created around 1504. Unfortunately, when we visited Bruges this piece was in restoration and a copy was exhibited instead. For that reason we decided not to visit the museum. Even though it is free to enter into the church, to visit the museum the ticket price is 6 euros.
Adress: Mariastraat, 8000 Brugge
The most Instagrammable places
Bruges is such a beautiful city that you can easily find a perfect spot to take a picture that will wow your friends and followers. Although there are two special places around the city: Bonifacius Bridge and Rozenhoedkaai .
- Bonifacius Bridge
Most commonly known as the “fairy-tale bridge” this place under the shadow of the Church of Our Lady is one of the most picturesque spots around Bruges. It is the scenery all together – the canals, the tall trees, the hidden houses that creates this magical atmosphere.
Just to make sure you enjoy the best of this location try to go on the early hours of the morning. I am saying this because during the day this bridge is crowded with tourists which takes away a bit of the fairy-tale mist of this postal card landscape.
This is the most photographed place in Bruges and it easy to understand why. The canal, the Belfry of Bruges, the cute houses creates a postal card image. It is also here where you can get a boat for a small cruise in the canal (see below). As expected there are lots of people here but take a breath and enjoy the amazing picturesque view.
Interesting things to do
- Bruges Canal Tour
This was not planned during our trip, but we saw so many of these boats around and the city was so lovely that we thought it would be a fantastic idea. And it was. You cannot say your visit is complete without a boat trip on the canals. We got a boat from Rozenhoedkaai, 10 euros for person, and during half an hour we saw the most incredible, loveliest places in Bruges. From boat you will discover secret gardens, picturesque bridges and breath-taking views. This is for sure a must-do activity.
- Free Concert at Site Oud Sint-Jan
Tuesday to Saturday at 3pm, 5pm and 6:30pm you can enjoy a 40-minute harp-concert. Luc Vanlaere is a local harpist that will play for you. The concert is of free entrance but any tips are welcomed. It is a nice and relaxing experience. Something different but interesting to add to your trip in Bruges. If you are interested check in his website: http://harpmuziek.be/
Christmas in Bruges
Our reason to visit this city was its Christmas Market. We expected to have a great experience, but Bruges gave us a lot more. You really can fell the Christmas spirit around the city. Every corner, every house, every restaurant had fully embraced this season. And then the Christmas market – so many delicious things to eat and drink and a really good mix of different things you can buy from gloves to scarves, from Christmas decorations to paintings. You also have a ice ring if you fell like skying. Adding to that there were more than only one Christmas Markt (the main one is located on the Markt Square). They were smaller yes, but in any way worse .
On the weekend we were in Bruges, the Christmas Run was happening (we didn’t know until we got to the city). There was a lot of people ready for the exercise wearing Christmas hats and other different items. You could almost touch the vibrant and happy atmosphere around. The feeling of belonging and welcoming was so nice and so “cozy”. Lovely city, lovely people, lovely trip.