Set aside by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites, the historic city of Bruges is to be found in the North Western Part of Belgium. Bruges may be a small, relatively unknown city by today’s standards, but history tells us that at one point, it was regarded as the a key world commercial center, along the same lines as cities like the New Yorks, Londons and Tokyos of today.
It has an interesting history, going back to the ‘Before Christ’ (BC) era, during the conquests of Julius Caesar – who, having managed to conquer Bruges, oversaw its first fortification. That is to say the city was there before: such that Julius Caesar only managed to conquer it as an already existent city. This only goes to show just how rich a history the city of Bruges bears. By all accounts, Bruges is a beautiful city, set along the shores of a beautiful ocean, and surrounded by what can only be described as a breathtaking landscape.
Getting around Bruges
One of the most inexpensive yet convenient ways to get around Bruges is by bus. The city’s bus service is operated by a company known as the De Lijn, and it is, by all accounts, a well organized bus service, reaching pretty much every part of the expansive Bruges metropolis.
While, at the moment, there is no light rail transport within Bruges at the moment, there is heavy rail transport, which translates into availability of train services. What the authorities have done is provide linkage by bus between the main railway stations and the various other parts of the city. The end result is a seamless transport apparatus: as efficient as what you have in the cities with light rail transport systems. It is also worth noting that a light rail system is under development, to connect Bruges to Ostend.
Cycling in Bruges can be challenging, due to conflicts between vehicular traffic and cyclists. The city is, however, doing a lot to encourage cycling, and if you are in Bruges for a longer duration of time, you can consider acquiring a bike and using it to get around.
It would seem that the authorities in Bruges are having a challenge in balancing the need to provide means for people to move around conveniently with the need to conserve the city (it being, as we mentioned, a world heritage site).
Things to see and do in Bruges
Bruges has so much to offer, in terms of things to do and things to see, that you’d probably need months to take it all in. If you have a limited duration of time to savor what Bruges has to offer, the best advice would be for you to narrow down in line with your individual interests, in order not to get overwhelmed.
You can, for instance, start by marveling at Brugel’s medieval architecture: this being one of the key cities to make a visit to, if you want to see medieval architecture at its best.
You can’t really claim to have been to Bruges, if you haven’t gotten a chance to see Michelangelo’s ‘Madonna and the Child’ sculpture.
It would also be a travesty to leave Bruges without having a chance to visit its Belfry (which dates back to the 1200s) and which is still functional!
The old cathedrals, basilicas and government buildings will almost certainly leave you awed: especially considering that they were constructed manually, at a time when modern construction technology wasn’t available.
Bruges, as you will also come to discover, is home to numerous theaters and concert halls, and the upshot is that it is a major cultural center. Indeed, at almost any given time, there tends to be a major festival going on.
You may further still enjoy visiting Bruges’ Municipal and Non-Municipal Museums, where the city’s rich history is on display. Then there are Bruges’ exquisite markets, where you can have a chance to shop and generally enjoy yourself in what is indisputably one of the world’s most historically significant (and majestic) cities.