The Market - Bruges

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. The main monument is of course the belfry tower and the cloth hall. On the Northern side of the Market is the Provincial Court. It stands on the site were the medieval 'water halls' used to stand. This was a covered hall where the ships could unload their products for storage in the halls or for direct sale on the adjacent market. Right in the middle of the square the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck can be seen. The other sides of the market are occupied by restaurants and shops located in former private houses as well as in guild houses.

The Market - Bruges
The Provincial court is the best example of how Bruges was renovated in neo-gothic style during the second half of the 19th century. After the destruction of the water halls in 1787 a new complex of houses was built there in classicist style. This style was considered very modern in a town that was basically built in late-gothic style. In 1850 the provincial government bought the complex, enlarged it and made it the seat of the provincial institutions. The members of the catholic and traditionalist political parties rejected the building as 'unfit for the beautiful gothic Bruges'. In 1878 a fire destroyed most of the building. Different groups took their chance to have it reconstructed in neo-gothic style, the 'house'-style of the catholic party. On the left side of the complex is now the house of the Governor of the Province of West-Flanders. The red brick building on the right side is the Post Office of Bruges.

In the center of the Market stands the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. The statue not only honors these two leaders of the 'Battle of the Golden Spurs' which took place on the 11th of July 1302, it is perhaps more so a clear statement of the political leaders of the 1880's that the cause for Flemish emancipation was something that the Belgian government had to take notice of. Both Breydel and de Coninck participated in the 1302 uprising of the Flemish against the occupation by the French king, known as the Battle of the Golden Spurs'. This battle was also the central theme of the book 'De Leeuw van Vlaanderen' (the lion of Flanders) written by Hendrik Conscience in 1838. He romanticized the Flemish uprising and it became a symbol of the Flemish movement which fought for recognition of the Dutch language and Flemish culture in the French-language dominated Belgium of the 19th century.

Finally, on the Southern side of the Market several medieval-looking houses can be seen. They are not really medieval because a lot of them are modern reconstructions of the medieval styles. Some critics use these and other reconstructions (like the Provincial Government house or the Holy Blood Chapel) to bring down the image of Bruges as a fake. It is absolutely true that Bruges is as much a medieval city as a neo-gothic reconstruction from the 19th century. It is not difficult, however, to understand that buildings which are several centuries old always have to be renovated at certain times just for the sole purpose of keeping them in existence. Will the Empire State building, if it still exists in 500 years, look exactly the same as today, with no single stone changed ?.




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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