Weekends in Bruges, the fairy tale city gem of Europe
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Spend enchanting weekend breaks in Bruges, the spellbinding medieval city that visitors instantly fall in love with.
A weekend in Bruges is the perfect introduction to the city that, once visited, you will certainly wish to return to. The name Bruges is believed to be derived from the Old Dutch for ‘bridge’. The city is the capital and also the largest city within the West Flanders province of the Flemish region of Belgium. Situated in the country’s north west, it is easily reached by all major transport including air and rail, and is the perfect destination for your weekends.
Visitors who choose weekend breaks in Bruges are in for a treat. The centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000 thanks to most of its medieval architecture still being intact. It pulls in more than two million visitors each year and in 2002 was the European Capital of Culture. Interestingly, the city became one of the world’s first tourist destinations in the 19th century, thanks to its stunning buildings. Back then it was wealthy British and French tourists who came to enjoy the architecture. Its appeal has never waned and visitors today who choose to come on weekend breaks to Bruges can see much of the centre in pristine condition, after a programme of restoration of historic monuments, churches, residential and commercial properties over many years.
There are many must-see buildings during Bruges weekend breaks. The Church of Our Lady is one of the world’s highest brick towers or buildings, with its spire reaching 122.3 metres high. Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child can be viewed in the transept and enjoys the distinction of being the artist’s only sculpture to have left Italy in his lifetime. Perhaps Bruges’ most famous landmark, however, is the 13th century belfry, with its municipal carillon (a musical instrument housed in a church) that is comprised of 48 bells. No visit to the city would be complete without a tour of the following; the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which is home to the relic of the Holy Blood, brought to the city after the Second Crusade by Thierry of Alsace; the Concertgebouw, which is Bruges’ concert building; the Old St John’s Hospital, one of Europe’s oldest surviving hospital buildings, dating back to medieval times. The City Hall and the city’s original and preserved gateways should also be viewed.
After an exhilarating whistle-stop tour of Bruges’s fantastic medieval buildings and architecture, why not calm things down and sample the best of what Bruges can offer in culture and the arts? Bruges is well served when it comes to its music festivals (the quirky Airbag festival celebrates the delights of accordions) and food and drink events, of which the BAB-bierfestival (beer festival) is among the most popular. The city’s museums are plentiful and weekend break visitors will be hard-pushed to see everything. However, if you had to choose one not to miss, make sure you see the Groeningemuseum, the art lovers’ mecca in the city. It has a huge collection of art work by medieval and modern artists. It also boasts a renowned collection of work by Flemish Primitives as well as various masters, including Hans Memling and Jan van Eyck, who lived in Bruges.
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