The Town Hall and the Burg Square - Bruges

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. The castle has long since disappeared as well as the main religious building of Bruges, the St. Donatius church, which stood on the opposite site of the town hall. On the site of the church is now a little wall, a partial reconstruction of the choir walls of the church. It was built here after the foundations of St. Donatius had been found back in 1955. The church was erected around the year 900. The central part was octagonal, much like the cathedral of Charlemagne in the German city of Aachen on which it was modeled. The original prayer house of the year 900 was replaced in the 12th century by a church in Romanesque style. This version of the St. Donatius church was destroyed in 1799 during the French occupation of the Southern Netherlands. Some of the art treasures went to other churches (St. Salvator's Cathedral in Bruges). Several famous people were buried in St. Donatius : the English princess Gunhilde (+ 1087), the Flemish painter Jan van Eyck (+ 1441) and the Spanish philosopher Juan Luis Vives (+ 1540)

The Town Hall and the Burg Square - Bruges
One of the most beautiful buildings of Bruges can be seen here : the gothic town hall from 1376. It was one of thefirst monumental town halls in the Low Countries. In the front facade are six gothic windows. On the frontside are also displayed the town weapons of the cities and villages that were under administrative rule from Bruges. There are 48 niches for statues. The original statues (biblical figures and counts of Flanders) where demolished during the aftermath of the French Revolution. Their 19th century replacements have also already been changed for more modern versions. In the entrance hall a large staircase leads to the so-called Gothic Hall (1386-1401). This hall was decorated in 1895 with neo-gothic wall paintings that illustrate the most important events in the history of Bruges.

The Burg square is really a showcase of different European architectural styles. Next to the gothic town hall stands the Old Civil Registry in renaissance style. (1534-1537). The decorative statues were also smashed to pieces in 1792, but later renovated. The bronze statues represent Justice, Moses and Aaron. Since 1883 the building is used as Peace Court. On its left side is another building in another style: the former Court of Justice in neo-classicist style. (1722-1727). Inside this building is the famous monumental chimney of the 'Brugse Vrije'. The chimney was built between 1528 and 1581 in wood, alabaster and marble, to commemorate the victory of Emperor Charles V on the French king François I in Pavia. The former Court of Justice now houses the Tourist Information center of Bruges.

The Town Hall and the Burg Square - Bruges
Also the Baroque style is represented here. On the left side of the square is the Deanery (1662), the former house of the Deans of the St. Donatius church. It became later a part of the palace of the Bishop of Bruges.

Then, finally, tucked away in the corner of the square, next to the town hall, is the Basilius church and the Chapel of the Holy Blood.




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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