About city: Bruges

Bruges has preserved in full the atmosphere of the Middle Ages, which make it very attractive for tourists worldwide. There are huge cathedrals and towers in the squares of the city, however, it isn't them that lend it the atmosphere of romance, which is so attractive for tourists, but a great number of canals, and small, literally toy houses facing the canals. The streets are cobbled in the Old Town.

Canals are very picturesque, so you should sail on them in a pleasure boat. This creates an atmosphere of medieval romance. There are about 54 bridges in the Old Town, with 12 of them being made of wood. Most canals have no quays, so buildings are directly facing the water. Some buildings have small landings, as in Venice, allowing to enter them or discharge cargo.

You should start your Bruges tours from Grote Markt or Grand Market Square. You must be aware that Bruges was one of the most important commercial and financial centers in Europe during XI-XIV centuries. The city was mainly engaged in wool trading. In 1309 there was opened the Exchange, which is one of the oldest existing exchanges in Europe. Of course, all trade and financial buildings were located in the Grand Market Square.

The main buildings in the Grand Market Square are the Old Town Hall and Belfort. The latter was built in 1240. At the Old Town Hall you may see the Gothic Chamber and, if you have time, climb 366 steps to get atop Belfort (its height is 83 meters). The belfry com-mands the entire Old Town, so from it you can have a very beautiful view. Each of its 47(50) bells has a distinct sound and function. Cloth Hall (Lakenhalle) is also in the square.

The Church of the Holy Blood (Heilig-Bloedbasiliek) is near the Market Square. It was built in 1150. There is a legend that in 1148, during the Second Crusade, Count of Alsace was presented with a sheepskin by the king of Jerusalem. The sheepskin was preserved by Joseph of Arimathea after he had washed the dead body of Jesus Christ. There remained the blood of Christ on it. Now it is kept in a phial that became the relic of Catholic Christiani-ty. The church has two floors. The phial is on the first floor, and the chapel of St. Basil is on the ground floor.

You should go to ‘the lake of love’ (Minnewater) and surrounding beautiful park. There are always a lot of swans, which are the symbol of Bruges. As to the other sights, you may visit the Gothic Church of Our Lady featuring a high spire. It houses the sculpture of Ma-donna by Michelangelo. There are two interesting museums of Flemish painting in Bruges – the Groeninge Museum and the Memling Museum.

Bruges is very famous for its chocolate and lacework. The city is called chocolate capital of Belgium. It has specialized restaurants where chocolate is added to all dishes. As to lacework, it originates from the Middle Ages, so you can buy wonderful pieces of lacework just in Bruges.

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