Bruge is a delightful place to visit and, thankfully, English is also used as a communicative language along with their native language, Dutch. The center of the city is mainly the Chowk, Marct, or Groot Market.
By 1983 the square had been used as an open-air market for more than eight hundred years and was also a place where protesters could be heard and where announcements were made. These days the market with its restaurants and bars is built with square, luxurious gabbled Flemish buildings, which is compelling for the modern visitor.
One of its landmarks is Belfry. For a fascinating view of the energetic city, one can take a sprint to the 366 steps of Belfort Tower. (Admission £ 1.60 per adult). Holding your breath after that jaunt, prepare to be swiftly taken away again by the stunning Flemish architecture that surrounds the neighboring square of Berg.
Places to see
Less witnessed sightseeing
These well-run tourist-related recreations are extremely enjoyable, however, there are other less-visited places not to be missed. For example, the 13th-century Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) has a landmark 400 miles upstream from this Gothic church. Inside, surrounded by greystone columns is an exquisite white marble sculpture of Madonna and a child created by the famous artist Michelangelo. This is a real behavior as his works are rarely seen outside of his native Italy. The graves of Mary of Burgundy and her father Charles are located in the chancel. Be sure to visit before closing for Mass at 11.00 am.
Searching for love
Those seeking love should walk on the Minnewater – Lake of love (‘Minne’ means ‘love’ in Flemish). The lake is reputedly to have powers to help you find the love of your life if you wish. Certainly, the romance of gliding swans helps reinforce this story. Ironically, the lake leads to a 13th-century building known as the Beguinage. Although now it is run by 2000 Benedictine nuns, it was once used as a home for unmarried or abandoned women of physical substance. The order was founded by Beguinage – women themselves – but the last of the Beguinage died in 1930.
Where to shop
Bruges has some interesting shops that rest on its quaint, pristine streets. For example, canny fashion lovers can get some great designer clothes at cheap prices on Troc (Korte Zilleverstraat 12). Chocolate lovers will have a very good choice, but a particularly good chocolate dumon (Earmatt, 6) where pralines are a specialty. Other Belgian gastronomic specialties include sausages, petes and cheeses, and interesting palates, which should head for Dixmuides boteruhis (Geldmuntstrat 23).
Where to eat
At some point, hunger pangs will inevitably urge you to nourish. You can go for a cheap and cheerful but still historic “frietkoten” van selling parts of chips with mayonnaise for 1.5 euros (£ 1). These street vendors have been putting up their stalls for over 100 years.
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