Guide Location: Belgium » Brugge
Guide Type: Self-guided city tour
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Image Courtesy of Flickr and tompagenet
The famous medieval city of Brugge preserves many amazing landmarks within its walls. The grain mills will show you how flour was made, and the statues located around the city will reveal the lives of the important personalities of medieval Brugge. Take your camera and a look at the most fascinating landmarks Brugge can offer.
Tour Stops and Attractions
1) St. Bonifacius BridgeThe St. Bonifacius Bridge offers an attractive view of this old area of the city. It is quite pleasant to contemplate the canal when this spot is not too crowded. The bridge was built in 1910, but because of its style and construction design, it appears much older. It is located between Gruuthuse and Arentshof.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Zeisterre
2) The Statue of Simon StevinThe bronze statue of scientist, Simon Stevin dominates the Simon Stevinplein in Bruges. It was erected to commemorate the scientist best known for his proof of the law of equilibrium on an inclined plain.
The Bruges City Corporation and the provincial government of West Flanders decided to erect a statue of the Bruges born scientist and mathematician, Simon Stevin in 1839. Many catholic members opposed the installation of the statue while liberals were in favor of installing it in memory of the great scholar. The decision in favor of its installation was finally made and the inauguration was planned for 26th July 1846. The statue was not ready on the date and a plaster version was unveiled and weeklong celebrations took place. The present statue was placed one year after the celebrations.
Belgian sculptor, Louis Eugene Simonis created the statue of Simon Stevin. It has a height of 3 meters and the plinth on which it stands is made of Belgian bluestone. The bronze sculpture of Simon Stevin holds the diagram of the inclined plane equilibrium proof in the right hand. The monument is flanked by many shops and cafes and the area is a popular destination for international tourists who come here to pay their respects to the statue of Simon Stevin and his valuable contributions to the scientific world.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and Jim Linwood
3) Grote Markt of BruggeThe Grote Markt is the central square of Bruges. It is flanked by several important historical buildings and is the starting point of walking tours around the city.
The first record of a market at this location dates back to the 10th century. A wooden market hall was built in 1220 that was later destroyed by a fire. Later a Water Hall or warehouse where goods could be loaded directly on boats sailing on the River Reie was constructed. At this time, it became a thriving fish market. The fish market was relocated to another venue and the corn market was installed here. Besides serving as a marketplace, executions and tournaments took place in the square attracting a large audience. The square was called the Place Napoleon and later, the Grand Place and was renamed Grote Markt in 1936.
The Grote Markt was renovated in 1996 and converted into a pedestrian zone. Important buildings around the square are the landmark Belfry Tower of Bruges and the Cloth Halls. The provincial court stands on the site of the former medieval Water Halls today. On the left of the court complex is the residence of the Provincial Governor of West Flanders and the Bruges Post Office is located to the right of the court building. On the northern side of the square are many medieval style buildings with stepped gables. The statues in the square are of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. They were the heroes of the 'Battle of the Golden Spurs’, an uprising by the Flemish people against French domination.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and Bert K
4) The BurgThe Burg is a small square located in the heart of Bruges. It is flanked by many historic buildings and is the administrative center of the city.
The Burg is on the site of a former fortified castle built by Baldwin, the Iron Arm who was the first Count of Flanders. He constructed it to protect the land around from invading Normans and Vikings. The castle was built on a former Roman edifice. The city of Bruges grew around this castle making the Burg, the oldest location in the city. At the time, the first church in the city, the St. Donatius Church was also located here. Both the castle and the church have disappeared and only a small reconstruction of the choir of the church remains.
Buildings flanking the Burg today include the large 12th century Town Hall with its gothic style façade, The Old Civil Registry with a renaissance style façade, the former court of justice, a neo classicist building that now houses the tourist information center among other administrative offices and the baroque style building that was once the Deanery or residence of the deans of St. Donatius Church. The Deanery is now part of the palace of the Bishop of Bruges. The Burg is also the location of the important place of pilgrimage in Bruges, the Chapel of the Holy Blood and the St. Basilius Church.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Donar Reiskoffer
5) The Statue of Jan Van EyckThe Statue of Jan Van Eyck is located in a square called the Jan Van Eyckplein in Bruges. It was erected as a memorial to the best known exponent of the school of art known as the Flemish Primitives.
Jan Van Eyck was not born in Bruges but spent a large part of his life here. He died in 1441 in the city and was buried in the St. Donatius Church. The church was later destroyed by French troops. He is regarded as the founder of the early renaissance also called the northern renaissance style of painting. He is also known as the inventor of a unique style of oil painting and as one of the first great portrait painting masters of Europe.
The Jan Van Eyck Statue replaced an earlier one erected in 1820, dedicated to the city’s famous resident. The present statue was installed in 1878 in the presence of the then Belgian King Leopold II. The people felt that the earlier one was too small and wanted a new larger statue befitting the name and fame of the great artist. It was designed and created by a local sculptor called H. Pickery. The present statue has a height of 3.75 meters and weighs 1,700 kilograms. It stands on a tall stone pedestal with the name of the artist embossed in brass.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Flamenc
6) KruispoortKruispoort or Cross Gate is one of the few surviving city gates of Bruges. It is the best preserved among the four medieval gates of the city.
Kruispoort was erected around 1297 when a second city wall was built around Bruges. At first, there were eight gates that served as entrances to the city of which only four survive today. The present Kruispoort is not the original one but a structure constructed in 1402. It was designed by architects, Jan van Oudenaerde and Maarten van Leuven. In the 1780s, the city walls were demolished as the city started expanding. Four of the gates were left intact to give visitors an idea of how heavily fortified Bruges was in the middle ages.
Kruispoort consists of two tall towers connected by an overhead passage. The passage and the towers have windows through which bullets were fired at the enemy. Initially there were two bridges and a front gate that have disappeared over time. A drawbridge and two large doors were quickly closed as soon as guards could see the enemy approaching. The façade has two floors with a Crucifix in a tabernacle above the passage. The interior is preserved in its original condition and visitors can see the seats of the guards on each floor. There are four windmills on the ramparts to the North of Kruispoort. The gate looks magnificent at night when it is illuminated.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and LimoWreck
7) Windmill De Bonne ChiereLocated a few meters away from the Kruispoort is the most southern windmill in Brugge, De Bonne Chiere. In the past, Brugge was well-known for its mills, which numbered about 25. Today, only four remain, located along the Kruisvest Street. De Bonne Chiere is the first you will see on this tour. It was initially built in Olsene, in 1888, and was moved to Brugge in 1911.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Jim
8) St. Janshuis MillThe St. Janshuis Mill is one of the medieval flour mills in Bruges that has survived in its original location till today. It has been declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
The St. Janshuis Mill or St. John’s Mill gets its name because it once supplied flour to the St. John’s Hospital. It is located on the banks of a tranquil canal on the ramparts of the original city fortress. There was a mill at the site from 1297. The old structure was destroyed by a storm in 1744. The present building is the result of a reconstruction in 1770. It belonged to a family of millers until 1914. It was then purchased by the city of Bruges. The mill was neglected for 50 years and started functioning again in 1964.
Today, the St. Janshuis Mill has been carefully renovated and preserved and continues to make flour in the traditional way. In summer, when the wind is high, visitors can see the sails spinning at full speed just like it did in the middle ages. It is open for public view and visitors can learn the workings of a traditional flour mill from the millers. A steep staircase takes visitors to the museum located inside the St. Janshuis Mill.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Karelj
9) Koelewei MillKoelewei Mill is another mill that had to say farewell to its birthplace and move to a new home. Built in 1765, today it can be found not far from the Dampoort, where it was relocated in 1996. Together with St. Janshuis Mill, Koelewei Mill, which is the most northern, is a piece of the city's heritage. The mills are open to the public and are still in a functioning state.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and mararie
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