As I saw Bruges’ beautiful heart again, my initial disappointment at the sight of further building work in the square itself dissipated the moment I saw the leaning Bell Tower. I had quite forgotten about the 1-metre lean at the top, but the looming magnificence of the tower was otherwise just as I had always remembered it. This being the middle of November the tower, which is usually open from 9:30am until 5pm, was due to open at the later time of 2pm.
With unwanted time on my hands before I could climb the 366 narrow, winding steps, I decided to explore the rest of the Markt before ascending the tower. Standing in front of the Bell Tower, the main Post Office and the Provincial Government building are on your right, with gabled buildings housing bars and restaurants in front and to your left. In the center, surrounded by scaffolding and tarpaulin, is a grand monument to the heroes of the Bruges Matins- a revolt in 1302 against repressive laws passed by the puppet governor of the French King, the ironically named Philip the Fair-Pieter de Coninck and Jan Breydel. Beautiful.
Breidelstraat runs just to the right of the Post Office along to the Burg. Passing the shortest road in Bruges, De Garre, on the right hand side of the street, the first thing you see upon entering one of the finest medieval squares in Europe is yet more scaffolding. Thankfully, however, the building work is confined to the Paleis Van het Brugse Vrije (the Freemen of Bruges’ Mansion), a Neo-Classical building now housing the city’s main tourist office. To be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with the Tourist Information offices in the city, finding them to be bare and somewhat lacking in terms of literature.
The rest of the Burg is awesome: the Stadhuis (Town Hall) and the Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed (Basilica of the Holy Blood) have spectacular facades, richly decorated and managing to at once contrast and complement one another. I could have stood here for hours, but hearing "Time’s winged chariot hurrying near" (apologies to Andrew Marvell) I decided to head for the canal boats-Bruges is known as the ‘Venice of the North’ after all.