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THE CANALS AND THE OLD HARBOUR - BRUGES

WELCOME TO BRUGES ATTRACTIONS SECTION. HERE YOU WILL SEE INFORMATION, HISTORY AND PICTURES OF THE SAINT SALVATOR CATHEDRAL IN BRUGES, BEGLIUM.
 
The Canals and the old harbour - Bruges

Because of its canals Bruges is often called 'The Venice of the North'. The water situation in both cities was, however, very different. Venice was founded on islands in a lagoon of the Adriatic sea. Bruges lies deeper inland ; at least now, because in the five centuries B.C the Flemish coastline must have been flooded several times by the North Sea. When the waters retreated they left behind different sea-arms via which ships could reach the area where now Bruges is situated. Bruges was probably already visited by the Vikings. The Flemish name 'Brugge' is probably derived from the Latin word 'Rogia' (which was the Latin name of the 'Reie' the river which flowed through Bruges), and the Scandinavian word 'Bryggia', which meant 'mooring place'.

The Canals and the old harbour - Bruges
In the Middle-Ages, the waterways to Bruges had to be regularly adapted and enlarged to allow large trade ships to reach the city. Already in the 12th century the cargo was mostly brought to the outports of Damme and Sluis, two small medieval cities that still exist today, and are certainly worth a visit. All through the golden era of Bruges the rivers and canals were constantly dredged. Inside the city the 'Reie' river had been turned into a network of canals that enabled the traders to bring their products to the large Water Halls at the Market. Inside the Water Halls the goods were stored or sold directly. The Water Halls do not exist anymore now. In their place is now the neo-gothic Provincial Court at the Market.

After they had passed Damme, the ships entered Bruges on the site where now the Dampoort-complex is situated. The 'Dampoort' was one of the city gates that allowed entrance to the city. On the way to the center the sailors followed the canals which are now called 'Langerei', 'Potterierei' (where the shipyards were located), 'Spiegelrei', and "Spinolarei'. From the Spinolarei one can see the 'Poortersloge' which was the meeting place for the richer and more important members of the Bruges society. Very often concerts, festivities and banquets were organized in this building. In front of it is the 'Jan van Eyck' square with the statue of the greatest Flemish painter of all times who lived and died in Bruges (+ 1444). Finally, on their way to the Market, the ships passed the great 'Crane', a medieval crane that was used to unload the goods from the ships.

Nowadays no commercial ships sail on the Bruges 'reien' (=canals) anymore. The canals are now exclusively used for tourist boats. There are five families that are allowed to organize tourist excursions by open boats on the canals. Each family has 4 boats.
 

     
     
 

BRUGES MONUMENTS

The Beguinage - Bruges
The Beguinage
Just behind the Minnewater lies the Beguinage 'De Wijngaard' (the Vineyard). It is one of those typical areas in Bruges where one can find more peace and quiet than in the sometimes busy and overcrowded streets of the town center. The Beguinage is a group of houses around a little garden covered with large poplar trees. It was here that during the last seven centuries lived the beguines of Bruges. Full Text
   
The Belfry and the Cloth Hall - Bruges
The Belfry and the Cloth Hall
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 first tower, however, was destroyed by fire in 1280. At the time of the fire the four wings of the cloth hall already existed, as well as the two square segments of the belfry. The present octagonal lantern was added to the tower between 1482 en 1486. Full Text
   
The Canals and the old harbour - Bruges
The Canals and the Old Harbour
Because of its canals Bruges is often called 'The Venice of the North'. The water situation in both cities was, however, very different. Venice was founded on islands in a lagoon of the Adriatic sea. Bruges lies deeper inland ; at least now, because in the five centuries B.C the Flemish coastline must have been flooded several times by the North Sea. Full Text
   
The Godshuizen - Bruges
The Godshuizen
The visitors who take the time to walk through the beautiful city of Bruges will notice after a while that a certain type of houses can be seen quite often in the city. Those houses are mostly late medieval-looking and bear a name and a year on the outside wall. These houses are called 'Godshuizen'. Literally translated this would mean 'Houses of God'. Full Text
   
The Gruuthuse house and museum - Bruges
The Gruuthuse House and Museum
The Gruuthuse house and museum is situated behind the Our Lady's church. This impressive city mansion belonged to one of the richest families of the medieval city. It has now been transformed into the archeological city museum of Bruges.
The name already explains why the Gruuthuse family was so important. The old Flemish word 'gruut' means : peeled barley or wheat. Full Text
   
The Market - Bruges
The Market
The central location of the Market square indicates that this was the medieval heart of the city. At least, the commercial medieval heart, because the center of the city administration was found on the nearby 'Burg' square.
The market place (Grote Markt) is free from traffic since October 1996. It has been completely refurbished and is now one of the most attractive parts of the city.. Full Text
   
The Minnewater - Bruges
The Minnewater
For most visitors the Minnewater and its lovely park are the entrance to the beautiful city of Bruges. The Minnewater is a canalized lake. From the bridge (1740) one can already enjoy a nice panoramic view over the town. Because of the idyllic surroundings it is mostly referred to as 'the lake of Love', the Dutch word 'Minne' meaning 'love'. Full Text
   
The St. John's Hospital - Bruges
The St Johns Hhospital
In front of Our Lady's church stands the large complex of the medieval St. John's hospital, one of the oldest still existing hospitals in Europe. In 1978 it lost its function as hospital and harbors now the Memling museum, the hospital museum and the old pharmacy.
The oldest known document with rules for the hospital dates from 1188.. Full Text
   
The Town Hall and the Burg Square - Bruges
The Town Hall and the Burg Square
Bruges is a city with two town squares. The largest one is the Market, the commercial heart of medieval Bruges. The second square is called the 'Burg'. Here was, and still is, the heart of the administrative Bruges.
It was here that Count Baldwin I had a fortified castle built to protect the area against the ramping Normans and Vikings. Full Text
 
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