10 Most Popular Attractions in Bruges

Martina Rosado
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Choco-Story

Bruges is a city rich in chocolate lore and tradition. The entire city is filled with chocolate shops, chocolate houses, and chocolate, period. The "Choco-Story" is an exhibition space at the Church of Our Lady that displays the history of chocolate in the city and around the world. You can find out everything chocolate from the birth of the bean to how they make chocolate, what the cocoa tastes like, and why much of the world eats chocolate. It’s really a fun place to visit and if you happen to make a stop, the staff might even give you some free chocolates to sample.

Groeningemuseum

Bruges has a lot to offer to its visitors but one of the most popular attractions is the Groeningemuseum. This museum, which was established in 1897, houses a large collection of works of art and ancient artifacts from different parts of the world. It is located in the west end of Bruges just a hundred yards away from the 18th-century Baroque Town Hall.

The collection includes a large number of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and ceramics. They are displayed in various rooms of the museum. The style used for the layout of the rooms is that of a traditional artists’ studio.

This museum also receives around 250,000 visitors every year and in the last year, was ranked the fourth most visited museum in Belgium.

Minnewater

Snaking for more than a kilometer along the western shore of the lake, it is the longest European watercourse still in use. During summer, it is one of the most popular outdoor entertainment areas in the city. In the winter, cafe restaurants and a few inns give it some life. Usually, it is used by cyclists, hikers, and inline skaters. It is the host of the final leg of the Bruges Cycling Classic in August. The starting point is a small structure about a kilometer from the Hannecentrale in Bruges.

Among the many attractions in the park, notice the Concertgebouw, the former shipbuilding site where the Hannecentrale now stands, and the gilded boat.

Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk

(Our Lady’s Cathedral)

This 16th century cathedral is the oldest church in Bruges. It is one of the most visited historical sites in the city, and people come from all around the world to see this mammoth building at the head of the largest market square in Europe.

The church was destroyed during a fire in 1523 and therefore reconstruction commenced on the plans of Cornelius van der Valk.

The church was completed by 1532 and only its rear walls remain from the original one. But the cathedral has great neo-gothic stained glass windows that were added in 1884, and the building is a definite must-see.

Address: Brabantstraat 29 & 30, 9000 Brugge

Tel: 04 711 22 22

Open: 9am – 7pm

Closed: Monday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Public transportation: (bus 1,2,3,8,11,12) at Grote Markt (Market Square). From central station: take tram no.1 or alst stop from Grote Markt. Alternatively, you can take a 20 min. walk to get to the cathedral.

Ten Wijngaerde

The Bruges' municipality holds the Bruges Lion, whose origin goes back to Roman times. Originally named Cecil, it is now called “Wijngaerde's Lion” in honor of Pieter Wijngaert II, who painted the lion in the 1440s. There are about twenty of Wijngaerde’s Lions in existence, but Bruges has the only surviving painting.

Wijngaerde’s lion is in an enclosure in the city center, by St. John's Cemetery. The painting has a high degree of accuracy in the depiction of its anatomy and postures. It also contains biting and kicking legs, designed to show its strength as well as its agility.

At the Town Hall square there is a carving of a seal, decorated with reliefs of wild beasts, including a dolphin, two seals, and a wild boar.

De Halve Maan Brewery

Basilica of the Holy Blood

The Church of the Holy Blood, which you will find really close to the Basilica of Saint John is one of the most remarkable sights in Bruges.

The Church itself was built around 1215, although it was originally a chapel dedicated to the Holy Blood and dedicated initially to the martyrs of Cologne. The chapel has been the object of many rebuilding efforts over the centuries, but in the fourteenth century, it was completely transformed into the Church, which still exists today.

The Church of the Holy Blood is the resting place of the Holy Blood, the relic that is considered the most precious in existence. The relic was brought back by the hermit who lived in Bruges, Sainte-Genevieve, from Jerusalem around 1160. Sainte-Geneviève managed to get the relic on to a ship, but when the ship was attacked by pirates, she managed to keep it hidden by wrapping it in her religious habit. One of the pirates, however, managed to rip off a sliver of cloth and escape with it. Ever since then, the relic has been protected by the Church of the Holy Blood.

Belfry of Bruges

The tower is one of Bruges’ most impressive landmarks. The belfry is in the eastern part of Bruges, and it is the tallest bell tower in Europe. At its foot, there is a nice courtyard with a little cafe, and you can see the Bruges Bulldogs football team practicing football in the yard of the tower.

The belfry was built in 1400 by a priest called Jan van Ruysbroek. It is one of Bruges’ most striking landmarks and is a must see in the Old Town of Bruges.

The belfry is renowned as a good place to take some amazing romantic photos!

Another place to see the belfry from an alternative view, is from the top of the church Gross Begijnhof. The best time to visit the belfry is early evening or in the waning hours of the day, as it is a good place to watch Bruges’ day slowly end as the sun sets.

Markt of Bruges

(Market Square of Bruges):

The Markt of Bruges is the most central square of Bruges, in the heart of the city centre. It is home to the statue of Gaudeniy Bruges and the Belfort. It is here that the famous "Basilica of Our lady" is in.

Belfort is the most famous building in Bruges (together with the Basilica of Our Lady of Bruges) and its inhabitants are the "Doge of Burgundy" and his aunts and cousins from the royal family of Burgundy.

Gouden Hoef:
The fountain in the square is exclusively designed for the Markt of Bruges.

The White Horse:
The white statue of the white horse is from 1495. The horse had formerly been nearly completely white, but now it is partly to be browned to save the stone.

Gaudenij Bruges:
The statue is dedicated to the lord of Bruges Gaudenij Bruges.

Gaudenysplein:
The square is called Gaudenysplein in Dutch or Gaudenijplein in Flemish.

Brugse Courant:
The magazine is a newspaper in Dutch, that was published from 1949 until 1982.

Canals of Bruges

The Canals of Bruges is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Bruges. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and anyone who is interested in architecture or history would have to visit it at least once or twice. The Outer Ring is the area that surrounds the old city, or Markt (market square), and the inner ring is the original city from the Middle Ages. There are 28 canals in the inner ring, all of which were built in the thirteenth century. The Outer Ring is filled with shoeshops, arcades and restaurants that are very popular among tourists.

The canals start off in the windmill district and flow roughly northeast until they reach the Markt (market square). After that, the canals flow all around the city for about 2 kilometers. The canal that runs through the Big Square and east to the modern city is the main canal that connects the Outer and Inner rings.

The network of canals is a great place to take a journey. The boats rent for …

Daily, from 3 to 10 euros per person or one can hop on for free. There are a lot of boats, and it is a very popular exploration. The fishermen rightfully get the most money, but there are enough boats for all the other tourists to find a place to dock.