Monday, June 11, 2012


The city of Brugge creates the illusion of a medieval village, complete with horse-drawn carriages and swans in the dark canals besides ancient churches. Although the horses may be pulling carriages of tourists, there is something about the town – it’s been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list along with cities like Lyon, and Venice. Two of the traditions that made the town famous (the production of bobbin lace and the Holy Blood Procession on Ascension Day) survive to this day, and Bruges (in French, Brugge in Dutch) is considered the center of Flemish painting.

Minnewater - the "Lake of Love"

After a tour of the storm surge barrier of the Netherlands that morning, we arrived in Belgium ready to explore Brugge and its romantic town center. What better place to start than the Minnewater, known as the “Lake of Love”? An old legend explains the swans in the waters of this lake next to the Beguine Convent as a directive from Maximilian of Austria. He was imprisoned in 1448 by the citizens of Brugges and his councilor (whose crest featured a swan) was even beheaded, so when he was freed he ordered the town to keep swans on their canals from that day on, to remind them of their crime forever.

We strolled through the Beguine Convent (Begijnhof) in the shade of old oaks, returning to canal to find ourselves a lunch of moules. Then it was just a matter of following the canal north, past the 13th century Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk that houses Michelangelo’s white marble “Madonna and Child,” past the Oude Griffie, the Renaissance buidling that was the municipal records office in the 16th century, and finally reaching the Stadhuis. Built in the 14th and restored in the 19th, the town hall has a beautiful façade.

At this point we left the canal to wind our way to the Markt, the central market place. We passed the Belfort and Hallen, the belfry and covered market. The tower of the belfry dates to the 13th century and we remained long enough to hear the 47 bells chime the hour.

Our friend Oskars was awaiting our arrival in Brussels that evening and so our time in Brugges was short. But, I would like to believe there will be a “next time” that will allow us to further explore the storybook canals and time-worn cobbled streets.


  1. I've always wanted to visit Brugge, my husband however, would much rather explore the canals of Venice. Le sigh.

  2. It looks like a fairy tale village and the legend of the swans just adds to it all :)

  3. Liene,
    It's so pretty! Much prettier than in the movie. I want to go to Belgium. You're doing so much traveling lately,lucky you. Are you back home now?
    aidan xo

  4. This brings back happy memories of our short trip to Bruges several years ago. I was astounded by its beauty and loved the chocolate shops too! Great post and I liked the story about the swans. What a lovely surprise to see that you are my newest follower. Thank you! I'm delighted to be following you too now!


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