Bruges is a city which is brimming with history and medieval effect. It is the most popular medieval city of Europe. Its city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also known as the Venice of the North. Bruges was the main entrance to the trade route to the east which started in 1600 BC. There are very few traces of human activity in Bruges from pre-Roman Gaul Era. The first forts were built after Julius Ceaser’s quest of Menapii in first century B.C to protect coastal area from Pirates. The region was later taken by the Franks in 4th Century. Later trade soon began with England and Scandinavia.
Later Bruges became the main inlet for the local commerce and thus it was known as Golden Inlet. Later in 1050 due to gradual silting caused the city to lose direct access to the sea. In 1134 a storm hit the region and built a natural channel at Zwin. The city later became the commercial outpost for Bruges. It became one of the flourished city. In 15th Century Duke of Burgundy named Philip the Good set up a court in Bruges, Brussels and Lille which attracted number of artists, Bankers and other prominent personalities from all over the Europe. The weavers and spinners were considered the best all over the world. In the starting of 15th century the Golden Inlet started to silt and brought an end to the Golden Era.
In 17th century lace industry took off and various efforts were made to bring back the glorious past back. In 1650s, the infrastructure of city got modernized and new connection with the sea were built. But it failed as the Antwerp became increasingly dominant. Importance of Bruges gradually faded and by the end of 1900 the population decreased to 50,000 from 2,00,000.
In the late 19th century, Bruges became one of the first tourist destinations which attracted wealthy British and French tourist, Because of this Bruges started a society to improve tourism. The medieval city experienced Renaissance in the 19th century. Later all the residential and commercial structures, Historic monuments and churches were restored and brought a surge in tourism and economic activities.
Bruges city center was declared UNESCO world heritage site in 2000.
Things to see in Bruges:
The Market Place
The Market Place is located in the heart of the city and is spread over 1 Hectare of space. There are some historical highlights such as 12th century Belfry and the Provisional Court. The market was completely renovated in 1995 and made the area traffic free buy removing parking space. The Market was reopened in 1996 with the concert of Helmut Lotti.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Roman Catholic Minor church. It was built as a chapel in 12th century. The church is a relic of the Holy Blood (Blood of Jesus Christ) collected by Joseph of Arimathea. It was built between 1134 and 1157 and was converted to a minor Basilica in 1923.
This castle was built between 1859 and 1862 for Baron Charles Van Caloen and his family. It was considered as a masterpiece of Civil Gothic architecture. It is one of that castle of Belgium which is remarkably well preserved since 19th century. The castle is richly decorated and has well furnished furniture.
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