Saturday, February 23, 2008

In Bruges

Bruges is the historic capital of West Flanders. Flanders, being one of the three regions of Belgium.Wallonia and Brussels-Capital Region, are the other two.

2000 years ago a Gallo-Roman settlement.

The name Bruges comes from the Old Norse "Bryggja" which means 'landing stage'. The oldest trade settlement of Bruges and the early medieval port were accessible from the sea until around 1050. By the eleventh century, Bruges had expanded to become a commercial centre for Europe. In the twelfth century, a wool market, a woollens weaving industry, and the market for cloth all profited from the shelter of city walls.

Because of its canals, Bruges is often called 'The Venice of the North', and is one of Belgium's chief tourist attractions. The Market square is dominated by the cloth hall and the 83 meter high Belfry tower, one of the symbols of the city. The original cloth hall and tower date from 1240.

The entire complex still bears witness to the importance of Bruges as a medieval trade center. In the cloth hall, the Flemish cloth which was manufactured in different other cities was sold to the rest of the world. In 1399, for instance, there were 384 sales stands inside the hall.

Nowadays, the belfry tower charms the visitor with the lovely music of a carillion, which consists of 47 bells. Other more recent decorations are the sculpture of the Madonna in renaissance style and the weapon with a Belgian lion.

After a magnificent lunch in a cozy and warm place Den Dyver
recommended in Jane's Top 10 book, we sauntered along streets and canals and ended up in a very neat beer bar.


More wandering and the day is winding down. We decide to have a tea prior to heading back home.

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