Once a port of international standing, Bruges was founded as early as the 7th century on the banks of the Zwin River, growing up around the Burg fortress built by the Counts of Flanders. Economic decline began with silting up of the river in the 15th century, but the city soon regained its former splendour as the seat of the Dukes of Burgundy. Its ancient architecture and superb collections of works of art are only part of its rich heritage.
From the 14th century onward its mastery of wrought ironwork, tapestry weaving, embroidery and lace making has been world famous.
Unlike other European cities, Bruges was spared from destruction during two world wars.
The 20th century building of the Zeebruges canal re-opened access to the sea, further ensuring its continued prosperity. A network of canals winding through the city adds greatly to its many charms.
The Belfry and Market Hall and the market square in front of it have been the hub of city life since the 14th century.
The colourful corbie-stepped gable topped buildings were originally guildhalls, identified by their rooftop symbols.
Michelangelo’s wonderful Carrera marble sculpture, “Our Lady and the Child Jesus” is one of the artist’s few works to leave Italy. Reposing in the Church of our Lady, it was donated to the church by a Bruges merchant in 1506.
A memorable macaroni and cheese dish featuring four most delectable cheeses – first consumed on an earlier Bruges visit – drew us back for seconds to this fine eatery.