Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country. The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is oval-shaped and about 430 hectares in size. The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge. The city's total population is 117,073 (1 January 2008), of which around 20,000 live in the historic centre.
Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, it is sometimes referred to as "The Venice of the North". Bruges has a significant economic importance thanks to its port. At one time, it was the "chief commercial city" of the world.
Not to miss: Important touristic stops:
Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact. The historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Many of its medieval buildings are notable, including the Church of Our Lady, whose brick spire reaches 122.3 m, making it one of the world's highest brick towers. The sculpture Madonna and Child, which can be seen in the transept, is believed to be Michelangelo's only sculpture to have left Italy within his lifetime. Bruges' most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry, housing a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells. The city still employs a full-time carillonneur, who gives free concerts on a regular basis.
Other famous buildings in Bruges include:
- The Beguinage
- The Basilica of the Holy Blood (Dutch: Heilig-Bloedbasiliek). The relic of the Holy Blood, which was brought to the city after the Second Crusade by Thierry of Alsace, is paraded every year through the streets of the city. More than 1,600 inhabitants take part in this mile-long religious procession, many dressed as medieval knights or crusaders.
- The modern Concertgebouw ("Concert Building")
- The Old St-John's Hospital
- The Saint Salvator's Cathedral
- The Groeningemuseum
- The City Hall on the Burg square
- The Provincial Court
- Try the best! It is Awesome! Kempinski Hotel Dukes’ Palace
- Or a little cozy authentic one: Duc de Bourgogne