Thursday, 18 December 2008

Bruges: The Most Romantic City in the World

Bruges: city of a thousand wonders

Bruges: Venice of the North by nature

When Bruges became 'European Capital of Culture' in 2002, this was the culmination of a very long and rich city history. Visiting this extremely beatiful medieval town will soon convince of the fact that Bruges truly deserves the nickname 'Venice of the North'. Bruges is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque cities in Northern Europe, and became a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. Its history takes us back to almost an entire millennium ago: the name Bruges stems from the Old Norse word Bryggja, which means ‘landing stage’ or ‘port’ and may have the same origin as Norway’s Bryggen. In 1128, Bruges got its city charter and this led to the beginning of the rapid expansion. As soon as 1215, Bruges was already an crucial part of the Flemish cloth fairs circuit and the city’s entrepreneurship reached out to as far as England and Scotland’s wool-producing districts. About one hundred years later, the famous Bourse opened which turned Bruges into one of the most sophisticated mony markets of the entire Low Countries. The city kept growing throughout the centuries: by the 15th century, the population had risen to nearly 40.000 people. By the late 1800s Bruges became one of the first tourist destinations attracting tourists worldwide (mainly British and French). Since then, international tourism grew steadily over the years, culminating in Bruges becoming ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 2002.

Today about 120.000 people live in Bruges, 20.000 of them still live in the historic city centre. It's stunning how friendly the people in Bruges are and how many of them impress tourists every time with their charm and enthousiasm to show their city’s sights. You can almost sense their pride of having the privilige to be living in Bruges.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Visit Bruges in Belgium

Picture: Main Market in Brussels

When you want to make a trip to Belgium, Bruges has, as well as Brussels, Ghent & Antwerp, all the aspects to make your stay exhilirating. Almost all hotels in Bruges are situated in old cobbled carless streets and alleys and offer views on romantic canals everywhere you look. The perfectly going together of age-old and brand new intrigues everyone who visits Bruges for the first time. The best way to spend your time in Bruges is to stay at least one night in one of the many fine Bruges hotels.

Don’t be sad if you’re not lucky with the weather: Bruges is always beautiful! No one would ever forget their visit to Bruges once they have seen it on a snowy winter day. Ofcourse, as one of the most fascinating tourist attractions in Europe, Bruges can be very crowded but late at night, when most of the tourists are sleeping in one of the many fine hotels in Bruges, the city finds back its charm and quiet of old times. If you want to escape the crowdiness during the day, try walking along the streets and canals to the north of the city centre, up to the ‘Vesten’, the ancient fortifications that still surround the city. Apart from endless lawns and old trees, some traditional windmills can be spotted there.

Don’t be depressed when it rains or when it's freezing cold because Bruges, unlike other cities, keeps its beauty all the year round! One could hardly forget their stay in Bruges once they have marveled at it on a snowy day in December or January or on a hot summer day in July. You should also pay attention to the fact that Bruges can be very crowded during the day. But here's a hint: late at night, when the vast majority of tourists are asleep in one of the many hotels in Bruges, the city totally reclaims its charm and quiet, just like the old days. If you had enough of the crowdy shopping streets throughout the day, a wise thing to do is to try walking along the streets and canals all the way up to the north of the city centre where the ‘Vesten’ are (ancient fortifications surrounding the egg-shaped city). Seemingly endless lawns and age-old trees can be spotted there, accompanied by some marvellously renovated traditional windmills.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Museums in Bruges

City of museums

Apart from its wonderful medieval architecture, Bruges is also well known for its museums that can be find, without exaggerating, around every corner. The greatest quality of Bruges’ museums is the huge diversity, ranging from the Flemish Primitives to contemporary art, from the classic ‘fine arts’ to archeological excavations, furniture, silverware, folklore, etc. Various ‘Flemish Primitives’ Masters, such as Hans Memling and Jan van Eyck lived and worked most of their life in Bruges. Also, the only work of art made by Michelangelo to have left Italy during his lifetime, a marble statue of Our Lady, can be admired in the Church of Our Lady. There's also the unforgettable Groeningemuseum, with 600 years of different style paintings, the wonderful Memling Museum, the intriguing Gruuthusemuseum, the Museum of Folklore, the Guido Gezelle Museum, St. John's House, the Old St. John's Hospital (an absolute must-see), the Basilica of the Holy Blood (displays an ampul supposedly containing Christ's blood), the Diamond Museum, etc.
All hotels in Brugge are only a stone's throw away from the museums in the city centre.

City of food & beverages

If you've had enough off all the buildings and culture, it's time to sit down and relax. Bruges ranks very high when it comes to excellent restaurants, lunch adresses, coffee bars, pubs or clubs. Fill your stomach with typical Belgian chocolate and waffles, or the countless varieties of famous Belgian beers, or let yourself go gastronomically in one of the many restaurants or hotels in Bruges. A lot of the restaurants in Bruges and the romantic hotels in Bruges are a must-do for everyone who likes to look on the bright side of life.

A couple examples of very good (and affordable) restaurants in the city centre are: Restaurant Aneth and Restaurant Arthies or perhaps you can take a look around on this website about restaurants in Bruges.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Bruges and its hotels

Hotels in Bruges

Once you satisfied most of your senses, it’s time to go back to your hotel to spend the night. Bruges offers a very wide diversity of small and bigger hotels. In short, Bruges hotels appeal to almost everybody.

Most hotels in Brugge are family hotels with less than 30 rooms. Also, most Brugge hotels are located in the old medieval city centre, so the architectural and artistic treasures are never far away.

Hotel Botaniek in Bruges: 18th Century Mansion, elegantly renovated into the charming hotel Botaniek. Very well known for its quiet atmosphere and located next to one of the most beautiful romantic canals. The tastefully decorated breakfast room, together with a quiet sitting room (that clearly reminds the visitor of the Louis XV era) make up for a very pleasant stay in Bruges. The icing on the cake can be found on the top floor of the hotel Botaniek, which offers the visitor a unique view on the medieval city centre.

Hotel Patritius in Bruges: Magnificent 19th century mansion, in the centre of Bruges. Hotel Patritius in Brugge is uniquely situated and family owned and will take you right to the heart of Bruges old atmosphere, without depriving you of everything that modern comfort has to offer. Private parking, garage boxes and the interior garden of the hotel make Hotel Patritius in Bruges into one of the best in town.

Hotel Karel de Stoute Bruges: Due to its unique historical value Hotel Karel de Stoute Brugge is on the Flemish Heritage List. The authentic structure and elements of the Burgundian time take you back more than 600 years. Although Hotel Karel de Stoute Bruges is located just off the main squares, it breathes a certain calm and lies in a very quiet neighbourhood. Apart from its age-old character Hotel Karel de Stoute Brugge is nowadays also famous for its warm hospitality and personal guest attention.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Close to Bruges

Hotels in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent or Leuven

Departing from Bruges, it’s an absolutely recommended to extend your stay in Belgium and also visit the other beautiful cities like Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent or Leuven. Since Belgium/Flanders isn't really that big, journeys by train e.g. usually take less than 1 hour.

Hotels in Bruges generally offer the same quality standards than hotels in Antwerp, hotels in Brussels, hotels in Ghent or hotels in Leuven. Bruges hotels are usually a little smaller in size, while Hotels in Brussel tend to be a bit further away from the historic city than hotels in Bruges. On the other hand, and this is a huge advantage when visiting Belgium, the distance to railway stations is the same for all Belgian cities.

This makes hotels in Bruges equally accessible for all tourists than hotels in Antwerp, hotels in Brussels or hotels in Leuven.