The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is oval-shaped and about 430 hectares in size. The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge (meaning "Brugge aan Zee" or "
Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as
, it is sometimes referred to as "The Venice of the North". Amsterdam
Very few traces of human activity in
Golden Age (12th to 15th century)
With the reawakening of town life in the twelfth century, a wool market, a woollens weaving industry, and the market for cloth all profited from the shelter of city walls, where surpluses could be safely accumulated under the patronage of the counts of
Flanders. was already included in the circuit of the Flemish cloth fairs at the beginning of the 13th century. The city's entrepreneurs reached out to make economic colonies of Bruges England and 's wool-producing districts. English contacts brought Scotland grain and Gascon wines. Hanseatic ships filled the harbor, which had to be expanded beyond Damme to Sluys to accommodate the new cog-ships. In 1277, the first merchant fleet from Normandy Genoa appeared in the port of Bruges, first of the merchant colony that made Bruges the main link to the trade of the Mediterranean. This development opened not only the trade in spices from the Levant, but also advanced commercial and financial techniques and a flood of capital that soon took over the banking of . The Bourse opened in 1309 (most likely the first stock exchange in the world) and developed into the most sophisticated money market of the Bruges Low Countries in the 14th century. By the time Venetian galleys first appeared, in 1314, they were latecomers.
Such wealth gave rise to social upheavals, which were for the most part harshly contained. In 1302, however, after the Bruges Matins (the nocturnal massacre of the French garrison in Bruges by the members of the local Flemish militia on 18 May 1302), the population joined forces with the Count of Flanders against the French, culminating in the victory at the Battle of the Golden Spurs, fought near Kortrijk on July 11. The statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, the leaders of the uprising, can still be seen on the Big Market square.
At the end of the 14th century,
Bruges became one of the Four Members, along with Franc of Bruges, Ghent and Ypres. Together they formed a parliament, however they frequently quarrelled amongst themselves.
In the 15th century, Philip the Good, duke of
Burgundy, set up court in Bruges, as well as Brussels and Lille, attracting a number of artists, bankers, and other prominent personalities from all over Europe. The weavers and spinners of Bruges were thought to be the best in the world, and the population of grew to 200,000 inhabitants at this time. Bruges
The new Flemish-school, oil-painting techniques gained world renown. The first book in English ever printed was published in
by William Caxton. This is also the time when Edward IV and Richard III of Bruges spent time in exile here. England
16th century onwards This section requires expansion.
Starting around 1500, the Zwin channel, which had given the city its prosperity, also started silting. The city soon fell behind
Antwerp as the economic flagship of the Low Countries. During the 17th century, the lace industry took off, and various efforts to bring back the glorious past were made. During the 1650s, the city was the base for Charles II of and his court in exile. The maritime infrastructure was modernized, and new connections with the sea were built, but without much success. England became impoverished and gradually disappeared from the picture, with its population dwindling from 200,000 to 50,000 by the end of the 1800s. Bruges
The symbolist novelist George Rodenbach even made the sleepy city into a character in his novel Bruges-la-Morte, meaning "Bruges-the-dead", which was adapted into Erich Wolfgang Korngold's opera, Die tote Stadt (The Dead City). In the last half of the 19th century, Bruges became one of the world's first tourist destinations attracting wealthy British and French tourists.[clarification needed] Only in the second half of the 20th century has the city started to reclaim some of its past glory. The
was built in 1907. The Germans used it for their U-boats in World War I. It was greatly expanded in the 1970s and early 1980s and has become one of port of Zeebrugge Europe's most important and modern ports. International tourism has boomed, and new efforts have resulted in being designated 'European Capital of Culture' in 2002. Bruges
Satellite picture of
The municipality comprises:
The historic city centre of
, Sint-Jozef and Sint-Pieters (I) Bruges
Lissewege (with Zeebrugge and Zwankendamme) (VIII)
Many of its medieval buildings are notable, including the Church of Our Lady, whose brick spire reaches 122.3 m (401.25 ft), making it one of the world's highest brick towers/buildings. The sculpture Madonna and Child, which can be seen in the transept, is believed to be Michelangelo's only sculpture to have left
within his lifetime. Italy
Other famous buildings in
The Basilica of the Holy Blood (Dutch: Heilig-Bloedbasiliek). The relic of the Holy Blood, which was brought to the city after the Second Crusade by Thierry of Alsace, is paraded every year through the streets of the city. More than 1,600 inhabitants take part in this mile-long religious procession, many dressed as medieval knights or crusaders.
The modern Concertgebouw ("
") Concert Building
The Old St-John's Hospital
The Saint Salvator's Cathedral
The City Hall on the Burg square
Provincial Court (Provinciaal Hof)
The preserved old city gateways: the Kruispoort, the Gentpoort, the Smedenpoort and the Ezelpoort. The Dampoort, the Katelijnepoort and the Boeveriepoort are gone.
The main station is also a stop for the Thalys train Paris–Brussels–Ostend.
Bus links to the centre are frequent, though the railway station is just a 10 minute walk from the main shopping streets and a 20 minute walk from the
Plans for a north–south light rail connection through
Public city transport
In support of the municipal traffic management (see "Road" above), free public transport is available for those who park their cars in the main railway station car park.
Although a few streets are restricted, no part of
is car free. Bruges
Cars are required to yield to pedestrians and cyclists. Plans have long been under way to ban cars altogether from the historic center of Bruges or to restrict traffic much more than it currently is, but these plans have yet to come to fruition. In 2005, signs were changed for the convenience of cyclists, allowing two-way cycle traffic on more streets, however car traffic has not decreased. Recent cycle fatalities have increased pressure to close bridges and further calm inner
, but laws have not yet passed. Due to heavily populated suburbs, bus traffic is high on the narrow streets. This makes cycling even trickier. Bruges
Nevertheless, in common with many cities in the region, there are thousands of cyclists in the city of
is Zeebrugge. It's the most modern and second biggest port of Bruges port of Belgium and one of the most important in Europe.
was one of the eight host cities for the UEFA European Football Championship. Bruges