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  • Writer's pictureErin

Best Medieval City of Northern Europe

One of the few canal cities in Northern Europe is the old city of Bruges. This city is not one of the most visited in all of Belgium, especially compared to the capital of Brussels. However, there is no shortage of great activities to experience. One of the aspects of the city that I found most interesting is the incredible history of Bruges.

Rozenhoedkaai canal in Bruges with the Belfry in the background
Rozenhoedkaai Canal

A Bit of History of Bruges

Bruges has had a very varied history ranging all the way back from the Bronze Age. The height of Bruges' history happened in the medieval period between the 12th and 15th centuries. The canals and walls were built to establish the city as a trade center along two trade routes. It quickly became the center of trade for spices, clothes, and other industries. All of this booming economic activity made for an ideal destination for many people during the Golden Age.

Belfry of Bruges, Belgium
Belfry of Bruges

Belfry of Bruges

As you visit the town, you will learn that the majority of the activity in the city took place at the town square. Back when the town was in its heyday, a tall tower was added to the market square. Within a few years, the original tower burned down. What took its place was the Belfry of Bruges. This tall bell tower served as a communication system for the town. It even stood as an observation tower that provided the perfect spot to find the devastating fires that once destroyed the centerpiece of the town.

Belfry of Bruges, Belgium
Belfry of Bruges

The beautiful tower is the tallest building in the city of Bruges. However, the tower stands shorter today than it has in the past. Several spires have been added to the top of the tower, but due to lightning and other natural forces, it has been destroyed several times. The final time was in the 18th century, due to another fire, and it was never rebuilt again. Nonetheless, the 47 bells still ring every 15 minutes.

Bruge Canal, Belgium
Bruge Canal

Today you can experience some of what it would have been like during the medieval period when visiting the Belfry of Bruges. One of the most incredible ways to take in the tower is by climbing the 272 feet or 366 steps. As you begin your climb, you'll come to a room that will help you learn about the medieval city's founding documents. Here you can see the city seal, coffers, and charters. As you climb the rest of the way up the tower, you will get a stunning view of the city, canals, and medieval architecture. This is a must-visit on a tour of Bruges.

Are you ready to travel back in time to learn what Bruges would have been like when the tower was built? Schedule a consultation to plan your perfect trip to Belgium, and learn more about what the city of Bruges offers an explorer like you.

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