Bruges in 24 hours
Untouched by time
Bruges is by far the best place in Belgium that preserved its totally ancient appearance with its intricate network of canals. Bruges: Venice of the North. A mega cliche, but oh so true. When you wander through the small streets (and deny the thousands of tourists) it feels like you live in medieval times. The townscape is determined by buildings build between the 15th and the 18th century. Just like in Rome, the city gives me the feeling that at any time there might come a knight in shiny armor on a horse strolling around the corner. Yes, I am highly imaginative, but hey… that makes traveling (and live in general) a lot more fun!
10:00 AM: Salvador Dalí, Marquis de Púbol
You wouldn´t easily think of Dalí when going to Bruges, but from now on please do! There is a permanent exhibition called Salvador Dalí. Marquis de Púbol about the idiosyncratic Spanish surrealist in the Belfry of Bruges. The large collection of drawings, graphics, watercolors, paintings and sculptures offers you an insight into the lesser-known works of the artist. Don’t forget to take the audio tour, because it gives a lot of essential information that you would otherwise miss.
After the exhibition you can always decide to buy a ticket for the Belfry of Bruges, climb the 366 steps and get a breathtaking panoramic view of Bruges and beyond. Address: Markt 7.
Next to the peaceful 13th century Béguinage of Bruges is a big lake called Minnewater (Lake of Love). It is striking how many swans swim through the waters of Bruges. Just like the ravens in the Tower of London, the swans in the waters of Bruges are taken good care of in order to prevent possible disaster on the city. Legend has it that the swans first came by Maximilian of Austria, who wanted to punish the people for the murder on his bailiff Pieter Lanchals in 1488. The swan was part of the coat of arms of Lanchals, so in this way the name would be stuck in peoples mind forever.
01.30 PM: Coffee and cake at Marie’s House
In the shadows of the St. Salvator’s Cathedral stands Marie’s House. A charming place in a Flanders town house where you can stop for a coffee and self made apple pie or freshly backed Belgian waffle. Mega assets: cozy ambiance, peaceful and less touristy. Address: Korte Vuldersstraat 5.
03:00 PM: Michelangelo. Il Divino.
When in Bruges, don’t forget to stop by The Madonna of Bruges (1503-1505). The marble statue by Michelangelo is one of the highlights of the city and placed in the Church of Our Lady (address: Mariastraat). It’s been said that this sculpture is the only one that left Italy during his lifetime. The work is beautifully finished and highly polished, almost like the well known Roman Pietà but with less ornate folds of drapery. Professor Howard Hibbard (1928-1984) stated in his biography about Michelangelo:
The new sobriety and restraint of the Bruges Madonna, in comparison with the Roman Pietà, typifies the developing gravity of the High Renaissance.
06.00 PM: The taste of Belgium Beers
Belgium gained worldwide fame because of its beers. So, if you like beer you should go to one of the many beer cafes and take a Belgium beer tasting. We started our evening at the intimate Brugsch Bieratelier, a small beer pub with an extremely low 150 years old bar counter and ditto bar stools. I guess the bar stool height was about 19.7 inch and since Thomas (the boyfriend) is 6′ 3.6″ tall, this was quite hilarious. You can choose between 12 different beers, an assortment that varies every month. We ordered a beer tasting with tree beers each including Bruges brewed beers Brugse Zot, Straffe Hendrik and Fort Lapin. Address: Wijngaardstraat 13.
08:00 PM: All time favorite Flemish Beef Stew
For dinner we went to ‘t Huidevettershuis to try the traditional Flemish beef stew. Absolutely recommended! Besides the superb food, the surrounding is also very inspiring because of its rich history. The building was build in 1450 as a guild house for tanners who turned the hides into leather, a much demanded product by that time. Address: Huidevettersplein 10.
10:30 PM: Night photography
Bruges looks amazing at night, thus the perfect place to shoot some (black and white) night photo’s!
P.S. Our hotel wasn’t extremely recommendable, so not worth mentioning.