Bruges, the most beautiful city in Belgium, France
I visited Bruges in 2007 while I was a Leonardo grant student in Lille. I remember that we were undecided about what Belgian town to visit, because we only could visit one, being at the end of our stage. First we thought about Brussels but a friend told us that Bruges is a few times nicer and we listen to her. I can now tell you that we chose right.
Bruges (or Brugge in Dutch), is located in the north-west of Belgium, close to the border with France. In fact it’s only 78 Km from Lille, we traveled an hour and half I guess by train. It wasn’t TGV, but nevertheless we didn’t spend a lot in the train. Bruges is the capital of province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. The city is by itself a treasure, fact acknowledged by UNESCO who chose Bruges city center a world heritage site. The city is one of the best conserved medieval settlements in the world and you can see this even from the moment you get down from the train. But strangely (or maybe not) the first thing that stroked me in Bruges was the huge, I mean huge, bicycle parking place next to the train station. I never saw such a huge number of bicycles in one place. I know now why Belgians are so healthy and fun.
The best way to visit Bruges is by foot. You will be amazed by the stylish buildings, romantic channels and marvelous parks. Medieval buildings are so well preserved that you have the feeling you went back in time, to a place where knights and princesses ruled the world. In the city center no cars are allowed (exceptional decision in my opinion), but you can go around in horse drawn carriages. On the channels you can chose to go by boats that take tourists in unforgettable rides.
One of the most important sights is The Church of Our Lady, a medieval church with an outstanding exterior (the tower has 122 meters) but an even more impressive interior. The cathedral holds a Michelangelo sculpture, called Madonna and Child, created in 1504. Basilica of the Holy Blood, a gothic style Catholic Church holds an invaluable treasure: a phial said to contain a cloth with blood of Jesus Christ (the source for the church’s name). The Belfry of Bruges or Belfort Tower lies in the center of Bruges and it’s a really impressive building (366 steps and 83 meters). Although it costs to go up in the tower (don’t forget your euro under 26 card if you have one, it’s a bit cheaper with that), it worth every penny (or euro in this case J). The view from above is just splendid. And not just that. On top of the tower there are some bells (47 nowadays) that make an impressive sound each hour. When we were there we were lucky to be up exactly when they started to ring. It’s not like anything we heard before. If you go a bit outside the center (it won’t take long) you can walk to the city’s citadel and see also some really nice mills. Not to mention a big and splendid park. What else to try in Bruges: why not the famous Belgian chocolate? It’s so tastily that you will not resist in buying at least from one store. Another attraction: Belgian beer. There is a store in Bruges that sells over 500 different types of beer, so the choice is up to you.Bruges is one of the most picturesque cities in the world and now I can compare it with Brussels where I’ve been this year and I can say this too: Bruges is way nicer.
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