Bruges is an historic city located in the West Flanders region of Belgium. It is one of the best preserved and most beautiful medieval cities in Europe. With a population of 120,000, Bruges has a significant economic importance, especially due to its strategic port. In fact, at one time Bruges was known as the “chief commercial city” of the world.
Bruges is a city of canals, and is sometimes referred to as “the Venice of the North“. There are many crisscrossing canals lined with cobbled streets and pretty gabled houses in Bruges, as well as the more stately and architecturally diverse large buildings lining the canals.
The city’s most famous landmark is the 13th century belfry, which houses a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells. The city still employs a full-time bell-ringer who gives free concerts on a regular basis. Another building that Bruges is famous for is the medieval Church of our Lady, which has the highest brick tower in Europe, one of the world’s highest brick towers. It also houses the Michelangelo sculpture Madonna and Child, which is believed to be the only sculpture that left Italy within Michelangelo’s lifetime.
Another of the city’s famous churches is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which is said to house a phial containing the blood of Christ. Another site to be seen and toured is the Groeninge Museum, with its displays of Flemish and Belgian paintings covering six centuries. Included are works by Jan Van Eyck and Hans Memling.
Be sure to visit the Market Place, and by all means sample some of Bruges’ delicacies such as chocolate, Moules frites and the famous Bruges beer, of which there are more than 350 varieties. One thing you don’t want to miss above all is a canal trip, of which there are many tours to choose from.
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The long weekend and mini breaks are being hailed as a great way for overworked employees to get out of the country for a few days and really relax and unwind. But with central Europe on our doorstep, where is a good place to go to spend your precious holiday time?
Antwerp is a great destination, and really easy to get to in a matter of hours from London. Belgium is really close and easily accessible thanks to the Eurostar. The region is a hub of economic and cultural activity in the country, and the city sits on the bank of the river Scheldt and boasts one of the largest seaports in Europe.
There is lots for you to do on a weekend here, from the zoo which is one of the oldest in the world and offers the chance to see around six thousand animals. You can also visit a plethora of cathedrals and churches, or try some of the museums in the area, like the Royal Museum of the Fine Arts.
Antwerp has been the living place of some influential people in history, with William Cavendish, the first duke of York having lived there, as well as Albert Lilar (the minister of justice) and George Du Maurier (the grandfather of Daphne Du Maurier).
If you are visiting the area in August then make sure you visit the Bollekesfeest, which showcases local beers and sweets made in the region. They also offer locally made liquors and coffees, and the festival is a time for farmers and other vendors to sell their wares to people who gather for this reason.
Antwerp has a cult status in the fashion world due to the Royal Academy of the Fine Arts which is deemed to be one of the best in the world, and it has produced a vast amount of renowned Belgian designers. It also has a school of painting that has been frequented by a host of painters from the region.
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If you are looking to take a break to Antwerp or any of the other cities in the region then make sure that you book travel insurance to cover you in the case of accident.