The Venice of the North, medieval fairytale, outstanding example of brick Gothic, one of the commercial and cultural capitals of Europe, city that will capture your heart. These and many other epithets are used to describe the uniqueness of Brugge – a small medieval city in Belgium. And though this country has a lot to show, but Brugge is always named at the top of things-to-see list.
Let me illustrate that for you, Dear Reader. What we knew about the Belgium before going there? Country’s capital is Brussels, it’s European Union headquarters, country speaks two languages, we need to visit Brugge. That’s it. Nevertheless, we waited for three months, for the right moment to come – we visited Brugge just before the Christmas. At that time when whole city is changed into its festive outfit.
As we understand, it’s hard to find time of the year when Brugge would not be too crowded. Nevertheless, we picked probably the busiest, but together the most beautiful time of the year! In mid-December all the city center was covered in beautiful Christmassy decorations, some of the windows were even tied with bright red ribbons that made them look like presents. Streets were crowded with people lost in late gift search, and the shops were full with creative solutions ready for those gift-hunters.
We walked through those cozy crowded streets intrigued by the beautiful buildings and decorations, interesting shop windows and buyers with their purchase. However, all those streets were only an intro to the astonishing site that was waiting for us ahead – the market square with the famous Brugge Belfry Tower. It’s definitely the heart of the city that will make everyone stop and to absorb the man made beauty for the moment. However, due to the charming and dynamic Christmas market, main city square was overloaded with people. To be fair, we even lost each another for a moment, and after we were together again, we decided that we need to find a way to explore this charming city without crowds of people around us.
Around the Canals
“In Bruges” is one of my all time favorite movies, which I’ve seen more than a couple of times. So, this city was on my bucket list for quite some time and the expectations were very high. That’s why personally I was a bit disappointed when I saw Christmas Market in Brugge’s Grote Markt1, because I wanted to stand somewhere in the middle of it and relive a few scenes from the movie. Anyway, besides that, when we got off the main tourist streets and went for a walk around the canals, I really loved this city.
This is when we decided to follow the canals, and we are pretty sure that this was a genius idea. We left the market square and started walking alongside one small canal, which led us to another – a bit bigger, and another – even more bigger. Then again – smaller, more private, and then back to the major one.
Canals in Brugge are like boundaries that marks heart of the city, and if you follow them, you can walk around the major part of the old town. In addition to this, beautiful towers of Brugge accompanied us wherever we went, so we didn’t feel that we miss something by not being in the main square of the city. What is more, houses, small gardens, and even a private docks, that lines alongside the canals are so unique and charming, that you definitely need to see each and every of them!
The most picturesque, and together the most famous parts of all the canals are Rozenhoedkaai and Groenerei. Here you won’t avoid the masses of tourist, but you still got to see it. Personally, I liked Groenerei the most: it was considerably peaceful while we were slowly walking alongside, and the view was amazing. Belfry tower in the horizon, beautiful houses around, talented street musician playing his own works of art, and the small boats with tourist slowly passaging once in awhile – it’s a wonderful place for a walk.
The only bad thing about Brugge was that we couldn’t have it whole for ourselves. But I think it’s impossible to find the time of the year when this city is not flooded with visitors. Nevertheless, I love cities before the Christmas, so I think that we made a good decision to visit Brugge in December.
If you, Dear Reader, don’t like crowded places as much as we do, then choose to visit Brugge not on the weekend. And when in Brugge – follow the canals to see the best of the city!
I’m waiting for your thoughts or experience about Brugge in the comments!!