The fact that the city did not experience the devastating and destructive impact of World War II has been a major factor in the preservation of medieval architecture. Of course, when the subject is the Middle Ages, time stops and you forget the stress.
- Where is Bruges? How to get there?
- From Charleroi or Brussels to Bruges by bus
- From Charleroi or Brussels to Bruges by car
- From Charleroi or Brussels to Bruges by train or metro
- What to Do in Bruges in One Day
- Minnewater Park
- Horse Head Drinking Fountain
- St. John’s Hospital
- Church of Our Lady
- Bruges Archaeological Museum
- Bruges Belfry Clock Tower
- Bruges’ Main Square Markt
- Windmills of Bruges
- Conzett Brug
- Koningin Astridpark
The name Brugge comes from Dutch. When you go to Bruges, you will come across chocolate shops, French fries sellers and beer shops, as well as lace works. These are the things that come to mind when you think of Bruges after the preserved Middle Ages.
Where is Bruges? How to get there?
Since there is no airport in Bruges, the fastest way to get to Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is from Brussels Airport. If you are looking for a cheaper way, you can also use Charleroi Airport, which is further away from Brussels.
From Charleroi or Brussels to Bruges by bus
It is also possible to reach Bruges by City Shuttle from the airport. You can learn the timetables and fares from flibco.com.
From Charleroi or Brussels to Bruges by car
If you have the opportunity to travel for a short period of time, the cost of transportation by car may be cheaper than by bus or train. You should compare prices and act accordingly. If you want to reach by car, you need to add the 110 km road to your plan.
From Charleroi or Brussels to Bruges by train or metro
It is also possible to take buses from the airports to the main train stations and then take the train to Bruges. Train journeys that take approximately 1 – 1.5 hours are among the transportation options you can choose.
We have one full day in Bruges and we will do our best to make the most of it and enjoy Bruges. We will start our trip from Minnewater Park and end at Koningin Astridpark in the evening. You can see the places we will visit in general terms on the map below.
What to Do in Bruges in One Day
Minnewaterpark is a clean starting point for a trip to Bruges. This is a park in its own way next to the Minnewater river. Inside the park, there is a church-like structure, although it looks like a church, it is operated as a restaurant.
This park, located behind the train station called Brugge Station, takes its name from the river passing by. Minnewater is also called Lake Love, because there is a legend about it.
A young girl named Minna falls in love with Stromberg, a warrior from a neighboring tribe, and her father wants her to marry someone else. Minna then flees into the forest and, exhausted, is found by Stromberg and dies in his arms. The lake is named after Minna and its bridge is considered the bridge of love and romance.
The bridges on the canals of Bruges are among the most ideal spots for taking photos. Because the lakes or rivers where the bridges are located are home to swans, which are also included in the emblem of the city. Swans, the symbol of the city, create perfect images between historical houses.
While visiting Minnewaterpark, don’t forget to visit the magnificent buildings across it. Walking among the beautiful architectural structures each one more beautiful than the other gave us a very different excitement. Then we go to Begijnhof, more locally known as Beguinage.
Founded in the 13th century, such neighborhoods are also found in France, England and the Netherlands with the same name. The Beguinage nuns, who had a life based entirely on simplicity, lived their semi-monastic lives here, and since they were not in vows, they could leave the society whenever they wanted.
The last Beguinage left in 1927 and today the sisters of the Order of St. Benedict live here. We can visit the courtyard for free.
Horse Head Drinking Fountain
On your way from Minnewaterpark to Horse Head Drinking Fountain, you will see a wonderful view on your left. You see dozens of swans on the small island in the middle and the historical bridges and houses on the opposite side, which again make the view strong. Brugge is off to a really good start.
Horses are also of great importance in Bruges, one of the places that best reflects the medieval period. The horse heads in the fountain called Horse Head Drinking Fountain express this. This area is very close to one of the points where horse tours by carriage start.
This fountain is used to fill the water buckets of the horses, which are legally required to be fed regularly. When you look at the horses, you can clearly see how well they are fed and cared for.
St. John’s Hospital
Now we’re going to go to a wonderful building by the river. But this is a hospital museum built in the 11th century. Surgical equipment, medical books, pharmaceuticals are all on display. St. John’s Hospital used to be a healing center, diseases were checked here, and if surgery was needed, it was performed here. You can enter if you are interested in medical history.
Church of Our Lady
We leave the hospital and enter the Church of Our Lady across the street. We all know Michelangelo and have heard of his works. If you are interested in art history, you would recognize Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child anywhere. The Church of Our Lady is home to the Madonna and Child sculpture. It is said to be Michelangelo’s only work outside of Italy and it is exciting to see this sculpture.
Bruges Archaeological Museum
One of the archaeology museums opened to visitors to discover the history of the city is located in Bruges. Located directly opposite The Church of Our Lady, the Bruges Archaeology Museum is set up a little differently from the classical archaeology museums we know. It has a more child-friendly atmosphere.
We continue on Guido Gezelleplein and Gruuthusestraat. On the left side is the statue of Bruges-born poet and writer Guido Gezelle. There is Gruuthusemuseum on the other side of the road, but we cannot enter because it is under restoration. Started in 2014, the restoration is expected to be finished towards the end of 2017.
Gruuthuse House and Museum, located behind The Church of Our Lady, belonged to one of the richest families of the medieval city. It housed large collections of paintings, tapestries, furniture, silverware, weapons, ceramics and musical instruments. The name Gruut, meaning barley and wheat, explains the wealth. They must have been one of the leading names in trade in their time.
Arentshuis, where the works of various artists, including the painter and graphic artist Frank Brangwyn, are exhibited, has found a place in the 17th century house. The top floor is entirely dedicated to Frank Brangwyn’s works, while the other floors host temporary exhibitions.
We continue on our way behind the Arentshuis. We pass through a park with unusual sculptures. The park is called Vier Ruiters Van De Apocalyps. These are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which Christianity believes will appear as a sign of the Apocalypse.
Groeningemuseum, also known as Bruges Museum, is an art gallery built in a medieval building. The museum, where the works of Belgian painters such as Jan van Eyck, owner of Mystic Lamb, Gerard David, Adriaen Isenbrandt, Hans Memling, whom we know from St. Johns Hospital, are exhibited, has a wide range from Renaissance to Baroque. I am sure that this museum, where mainly paintings are exhibited, will be appreciated by art and history lovers.
Bruges Belfry Clock Tower
When you go towards the square called Markt via Wollestraat, you will see a long building on the left side. Belfry is the clock and watchtower of Bruges. It’s time to enter the 83 meter tall clock tower of Bruges. We go up to the top of the tower. But getting to the top is a bit tiring. It is worth it to watch the panoramic view of Bruges. There are various exhibition halls on some floors of this tower, which is not the case in some towers, but you can enter these halls and rest.
Bruges’ Main Square Markt
The Markt, which is in the shadow of Bruges Belfry, is the main square of the city. Throughout its history, Markt Square has witnessed festivals, fairs, tournaments, riots and executions. Today it is a popular meeting point. Surrounded by restaurants, this historic area is also the starting and ending point of walking tours. Filled with pedestrians and cyclists, the square is also a stopping point for horse-drawn carriages that take you through the medieval houses.
One of the museums around the Markt is the Historium. It offers an interactive presentation where you can travel to medieval Bruges and a time travel where you can also look around you with VR glasses. On the other side of the town hall is the Bruges Beer Museum. You have the opportunity to learn about the history of beer, experience brewing and enjoy drinking beer against the Markt.
Enter the street next to the beer museum and walk to the end of the street. The end of the road takes you to Burg Square, the second busiest square of Bruges. This was the first settlement in the area where Bruges is located. There was even a castle here to defend the area, but it is now gone. We have also covered the oldest buildings of the region and the museums inside, you can review them from the link below.
After Burg Square, let’s visit the romantic medieval city of Bruges through the canals. Brugge is among the cities in the Benelux region called the Venice of the North. Exploring with boat tours is a different world. The tours take about half an hour. For detailed information, visit Brugge Boat Tours page.
During our trip to Bruges, we saw the statue of a poet named Guido Gezelle. Now we are going to see the house of this poet. Gezellemuseum is 1,3km from the point where the boat tours start. We have to walk at a fast pace for about 16 minutes because the closing time of the museum is approaching.
Guido Gezelle was a literary figure who lived between 1830 and 1899. The house where the poet was born has been preserved and opened to visitors, especially in the Flemish region. Gezelle wrote many works during his lifetime. You can see most of these works in the museum along with his personal belongings such as his desk.
The museum’s organic vegetable garden is also worth seeing. Located in a working class neighborhood far from the wealth of Bruges, the 16th century house can be visited every day of the week except Monday between 09:30 – 12:30, 13:30 – 1700.
Windmills of Bruges
Now let’s move on to the relaxation area. Just behind the museum, there is a lush green area by the river. There are two small hills around it and windmills at the end of the hills. There used to be more windmills in the past, but today there are only 4 of them. The one closest to the museum is called Sint-Janshuismolen. This mill was built in the 18th century and is still in the same place, used as a flour mill.
The one on the other hill is called Koeleweimolen, built in the same century but moved to Dampoort in 1996. You can also go inside Sint-Janshuismolen during working hours. After touring Brugge all day long, it was good to find a green area. We lied down and enjoyed ourselves. We recommend it.
In the 14th century, when Bruges was surrounded by fortifications and thick walls, passages were provided through large and sturdy gates on the riverside. In the 18th century, with the collapse of the walls, four of the eight Bruges entrance gates have survived to the present day. After passing the windmills, you will see Kruispoort on Langestraat.
We continue along the riverside to another viewpoint. You can sit on the bench next to it and relax for a while. There is also a bridge called Conzett Burg next to it. The bridge is a pedestrian bridge, but the bridge has a special feature.
During boat crossings, the road for pedestrians can be raised up to allow boats to pass, thus making way for boats. Pedestrians or cyclists who want to cross the bridge wait during the boat crossing and once the road for pedestrians is back down, pedestrians can cross.
Crossing the bridge, 240 meters away, we see the Gentpoort, one of the four entrances of Gent that survived from the Middle Ages. There is also a museum inside the building. In the museum where various weapons are exhibited, information about the history of Bruges, its walls and gates is given through interactive screens.
It is possible to learn how the walls developed and how important they were in the history of war and how effective the gates were during the control of goods.
In Bruges, especially in the Old Town, you rarely come across large parks where you can relax. As the weather was slowly getting dark, we threw ourselves into Koningin Astridpark, the biggest park of the city, with the unhurried attitude and comfort that it brought.
Astridpark is a relaxing, peaceful park with greenery and lakes, set in a large area, far away from the crowds of the center. There used to be a monastery here and this green area was the garden of the monastery. In the 18th century, when the monastery was destroyed, it became a social area where people could cool off and have a good time.