The Gothic-style City Hall dates back to the 14th century, when Bruges was a major trading center and seaport. The murals inside are both beautiful and historically interesting. The vaulted ceilings and 17th-century frescoes are also very impressive. It has a small artifacts museum, too. The entrance fee, at 2.5€, is very reasonable. It is certainly worth our time. See more information at http://www.brugge.be/Musea/en/mgze.htm.
We next visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood, where supposedly Christ’s blood re-liquefies periodically. There's a Roman-style St. Basil's Chapel on the ground floor and a Gothic-style chapel on the first floor. While we are in the basilica, a ceremony is going on to honor "His Sacrifice." I don’t see the blood liquefy, though. Darn! It is, nevertheless, a fascinating ceremony taking place in a beautiful setting. There is a small museum on-site, but we somehow miss it. You can find much more information at http://www.holyblood.com/EN/G.asp.
Our next stop is the medieval Church of Our Lady. It has the highest tower in the city and contains Michelangelo's Madonna, originally intended for the cathedral in Siena, and the tombs of Charles the Bold and his daughter Mary. If you want to visit the tombs, which are in the choir, there is an extra charge. As you can see from the photos at (http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ed_hk/), it is a beautiful church. Pam has enough energy to visit the choir, but I decide to save mine and sit in one of the pews, admiring the statues and paintings. There is a more information at http://www.trabel.com/brugge/bruges-ourlady.htm.
We next head for the Beguinage. Originally founded in the 13th century by the Beguines, it is now a Benedictine convent. It was, at one time, a place where religiously inclined women, particularly widows, who did not want to be nuns could live away from the rest of society. It is certainly a peaceful spot, with a beautiful garden surrounded by living quarters and a small chapel. We visit the Beguine House, which gives us insights into how the former residents lived.
We leave the Beguinage and cross a bridge over the Minnewater or Lake of Love, which, before it silted up, was an important dock for barges that traveled between Bruges and Ghent. It's now considered a lovers' tryst spot. We take a break to enjoy the park-like atmosphere. There is a lot of shade and a flock of geese to watch while sitting on a nearby bench.
We finally run out of steam and return to our hotel for a short rest. Even the walk back is fascinating, as we pass chocolate shops, antique stores, and many interesting restaurants.
Results 1-3of 3 Reviews
by Ed Hahn
Hong Kong, China
August 5, 2005
From journal Bruges and Ypres Salient - Beautiful and Horrible
MEXICO CITY, Mexico
July 15, 2005
From journal Bruges, a flashback in time
by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
June 28, 2001
Near Kruispoort is a park with four stilt windmills. The oldest dates to 1770 and you can climb the wooden steps for a tour inside. The park also has green benches with iron supports that are shaped like curved dragons. The walking/cycling path that follows the winding canal is popular with joggers.
If you want to stay away from the heavily touristed areas, walk up Langestraat from Kruispoort. Along the way, you'll pass small shops, pubs and a grocery store that caters to local people so the prices are more reasonable than in the main tourist areas. The grocery store is a great place to pick up the makings of a picnic and there are good buys on souvenirs for home like beer, wine and food items. You can buy good pre packaged Belgian chocolates but they don't compare to the hand made ones found in the many chocolatiers around Bruges.
I stopped at a small restaurant on Langestraat that reminded me of the take-away shops in Britain. Almost everything on the menu was battered and deep fried including a wide variety of croquettes (fish, chicken, beef, vegetables and other things that I couldn't quite distinguish). This is not a place for those who are health conscious but it can be quite a dining adventure.
Continue up Langestraat to Hoogstraat and you'll be back at the main squares of Markt and Burg in the middle of old Bruges.
From journal Discovering Bruges