Guest post written by Becky Bowe
The medieval city of Bruges may be small, but it certainly packs a lot inside. With its cobbled streets, horse-drawn carriages and labyrinth of canals, there is plenty to do inside the quaint city. We’ve picked out some of the must-see sights to admire while exploring our July Destination of the Month…
1. Bruges Triennial 2018: Liquid City
For the second year running, Bruges is hosting the Triennial; an art exhibition which runs across the whole city. There are 15 exhibits across the city; each one unique. Our personal favourite is the Skyscraper (Bruges Whale) by STUDIOKCA. The Bruges Whale is made up of 5 tonnes of waste plastic from the Pacific Ocean. The 4-story tall whale is a powerful symbol of the need to beat the plastic pollution in our seas. Don’t miss out on a chance to look at the exclusive artwork across Bruges which is open until 16th September this year.
Also known as the ‘Venice of the North’, Bruges is home to many canals. So, why not take in the beautiful sights of Bruges from the water and gain a different perspective of the city? A short canal ride is an inexpensive way of seeing the sights of Bruges and lasts for roughly half an hour. The canals are also a focal point for the Liquid City exhibition.
3. Historium Brugge
Immerse yourself in medieval Bruges with a multimedia experience and virtual reality that takes you right back in time to the 15th Century. After learning about all of the history of the city, take a trip to the Duvelorium Grand beer café which has a panoramic terrace, allowing you to take in the sights of Bruges from a bird’s eye view whilst sipping on a famous Belgian beer brewed in Bruges itself.
4. The Belfry and Markt
Take a trip to Bruges’ most famous landmark: The Belfry. Standing tall at 83m high, the world heritage protected Belfry houses a carillion made up of 47 bells. If you dare climb the 366 steps to the top, you will be rewarded with breath-taking 380-degree views of Bruges. The 12th century Belfry is easily accessible as it stands in heart of Bruges, within the old town ‘Markt’. The Markt is lined with restaurants, cafes, chocolate shops and more. Not only that, but it is incredibly pretty and photo worthy. If you would prefer a more romantic (or unique) way of looking around the city, the Markt is where you can also get a horse-drawn carriage.
The Frietmuseum is not only one of Bruges more unique attractions but also the world’s only museum dedicated to the world-famous French fries. Whilst many would believe French fries originated in France, in actual fact the Belgium’s claim they invented the much-loved potato snack. Regardless of their origin, the museum is worth a visit as it is one of a kind.
6. Museum-Gallery Xpo Salvador Dali
The Salvador Dali exhibition is housed in the medieval cloth halls of the Belfry. It houses more of Dali’s earlier and lesser known works of sketches, graphics and sculptures. There are illustrations of Alice in Wonderland and watercolours of Dante’s Divine Comedy to name a few pieces. Once inside you can get an audio-guide to explain the artwork, and staff members will happily talk you through Dali’s life and works. The whole collection is presented in true Dali style with mirrors, pinks and gold décor.
7. The Groeningemuseum
The Groeningemuseum offers an impressive collection of Flemish artwork, 18th and 19th century neoclassical art and post-war modern pieces. There are regular exhibitions held at the museum alongside the permanent collection. The museum features amongst other great works, the Madonna and Child with Canon George van der Paele painted by Jan Van Eyck and some of Paul Delvaux’s surrealist and more modern works.
8. Basilica of Holy Blood
The Basilica of Holy Blood is home to the holy relic of the Holy Blood. The holy blood is a religious icon as it is supposedly the blood of Christ. The myth surrounding its origins lie at the crucifixion of Christ, where Joseph of Arimathea is said to have wiped Jesus’ blood with a cloth and preserved it in a vial, where it remained in the Holy Land until the second crusade where it came to Bruges. The Basilica itself is free of charge so definitely worth a quick visit.
9. Minnewater and ‘Lovers Bridge’
At the southern end of Bruges is the scenic, tree lined Minnewater. In the peaceful park you will find the lake of love where legend has it, that if you walk over the lake bridge with your partner and kiss each other, you will experience eternal love. So, if you are visiting Bruges on a romantic getaway, this is definitely a spot you should go to.
10. Begijnhof (or Beguinage)
After a relaxing stroll through Minnewater, the Begijhof should be the next thing to tick off your to-do list. The Begijhof is a convent run by nuns and has an interesting history dating back to 1245. You can visit the serene gardens; the chapel and buildings and they even have a little gift shop. This is more of a peaceful place to go and is less busy than the main tourist attractions to offer in Bruges.