First of all, is it Bruges or Brugge? It is both! At first I was confused if I was spelling or pronouncing it correctly but you can say or use both words. Brugge is the name that the Flemish speaking locals use which is pronounced “Bru-gah”. Personally, I said “Bruges” pronounced “Brooge” and got along quite well.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Brugge Centrum is the historical center that was named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It is remarkably charming and ‘Old World’. The Old Town still remains one of the best preserved Medieval cities in Europe. Over the centuries not much has changed only the stores and restaurants in Brugge centrum. They are just a few signs of modern day commercialism and please leave it at that.
Besides Brugge being on the UNESCO Sites List, there are many other astounding city attractions. Just to name a few, the 13th Century Gothic Cathedral holds a very important Michelangelo sculpture (see info below). The Groeningemuseum houses six centuries of Flemish – Belgium artworks and the old hospital has several Hans Memling pieces.
The city of Brugge is non-stop charming and you can feel the history when you walk the streets. The canals that run through Old Town are picturesque as well as the bridges with the colorful flower baskets that pass over the waterways. This city is definitely worth spending as many waking hours as possible- it is extraordinary.
There was a lot to see and do in Brugge and I crammed it all in one day! You can easily do it without a big bus tour, just wake up early and go to bed late. Make sure you are wearing sturdy walking shoes because many of the streets are uneven or cobblestone.
“Can you imagine what it would have been like to be walking around with your tits hanging out all day?” Is what I heard from another American while looking at a five hundred year old masterpiece. I almost died in a stifled laughter. Ah Americans, we are so funny sometimes.
On to the artwork, inside the Groeningemuseum is an outstanding collection that spans six centuries- from early Flemish artists to Modern Day works. The museum is in chronological order with the earliest artwork at the beginning, to the most recent towards the end. If you are wanting to view the progression of Flemish-Belgium Artists, this museum is worth the visit. I grew very fond of this place and would love to visit it again.
For museum information and location, please visit- Groeningemusuem
Hans Memling and Sint-Janshospitaal
Approximately built in 1150 as a hospital, Sint-Janshospital or Old Saint John’s Hospital is considered one of Europe’s oldest healthcare facilities. In later centuries it had become a monastery and convent with an additional hospital wing. In the late 1970’s Saint John’s stopped working as a hospital and eventually became a museum filled with medical artifacts and artworks.
Inside the old hospital is where you can view extraordinary works of art by Hans Memling; including his three panel St. Johns Altar piece and my favorite, The Ursula Shrine. Take a special trip up to the attic which is impressive, as it is the oldest oak timber trussed roof in the Brenlux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) region.
Church of Our Lady, Bruges
Dating back to the 13th Century, this remarkable Gothic style Cathedral is an architectural beauty. The brick tower is the largest structure in the Old City and the second largest in the world. As with typical Gothic Cathedrals, flying buttresses flank the sides for support. The interior is exquisite with natural light flooding through the large stained glass windows. The black and white tile floors, white walls, rich wood furnishings and the beautiful artworks create a classic elegance of centuries gone by.
The main reason behind my visitation to this cathedral is within the scaffolding (See photo below). Within the protective scaffolds lies the only Michelangelo sculpture, “Madonna and Child”, that left Italy during his lifetime.
Interesting Fact: The Madonna was stolen during WWII by the Germans who smuggled her in a Red Cross Vehicle wedged in-between mattresses. She was later found in a salt mine in Austria and returned a year after being stolen. The Madonna and Child have remained safe inside Our Lady’s Church in Brugge for decades . She is magnificent, has quite a history and worth the visit while you are touring the city.
Noshing in Brugge
I found the cuisine in Brugge to be down-to-earth and delectable. From my oat waffle with ginger and daisies to the local cheese “Old Brugge” at my hotel, everything I ate was comforting and appetizing.
For my complete food journal, restaurant locations and reviews : 👩🏻💻 → What I ate in Belgium – A Food Journal
A Notable dishes is the Flemish Stew, which is a traditional beef stew with added beer. It was flavorsome and rich, I highly recommended it. Also, check out Otto Waffle Atelier and Brow Sugar for your sweet tooth fix.
👩🏻💻➡All restaurant information in my blog, “What I Ate in Belgium – A Food Journal”
Staying at the New Radisson Blu
When I stayed at the Radisson Blu in Brugge, it had just opened several months prior so it was fresh and modern. This hotel is a six minute walk to the train station and about 10-15 minutes to Brugge Centrum. It is a very convenient stay especially if you are taking the train into Brugge.
Since I used my points to book my reservation, I was upgraded to a higher floor and larger room. I was grateful for it because my upgraded room was bright and spacious with ceiling to floor windows. The bed was comfortable plus the robe and slippers were a nice cozy touch.
Breakfast served was a traditional European style breakfast with breads, meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, fruit, etc. What I appreciated was the upgraded food items such as the cheeses offered. I was able to try the local ‘Old Bruges’ and a French Chaumes cheese.
The restaurant inside the Bruges Radisson Blu was enjoyable and delicious. I started off with a Cosmopolitan to take the edge off the day of traveling into Bruges. We all need a little something now and then! I was offered a tasteful Amuse Bouche of salmon on a crostini, very nice. I decided on the Seafood Risotto and it was excellent; a generous serving of cod over risotto with shrimp and mussels. It was all very impressive!
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre