In the heart of Bruges is the grote markt, or grand market. This is market is the most lively area of the city. Here you’ll find a lot of Bruges most famous and historical buildings. Above are some of the colorful shops in the market and the flag of Bruges. On the left side is the provincial palace, or locally known as the provinciaal hof. On the right is probably the most famous building in Bruges, the Belflry. When the Belfry was originally built in the market square in 1240 it was quite small. After being destroyed in a fire only 40 years later, it was rebuilt to a much larger size. in the 1400s additions were made, and the Belfry build up by men and taken back down by fire several times. The modern version you see now was built in the late 1800s.
|The best part about the Belfry is that you can climb it! There are 366 steps to climb to the top of the tower with a few floors that you can stop on in between. The first photo above shows the inside of one of the first floors in the tower. The second is one of the smaller bells at the very top. There are a total of 24, but the main one is hard to photograph since they enclosed it in a locked cage. The climb is a good challenge because the steps get so narrow at the top. You’re likely to run into people in both directions, and the higher you go the more challenging it is to pass someone. Below are photos of the climb in order from the bottom to the top. The steps had plenty of room until it began to narrow in the center of the tower. At the very beginning there was enough room for a railing, but that changed to a rope almost immediately. The right hand photo shows the very last section where it’s especially narrow.|
|The view from the belfry is well worth climbing the tower. The weather I had was on the gloomy side so it wasn’t as nice as it could have been. It’s a bit difficult to photograph anything because they put a wired net over the window slightly obstructing your view. The left is a photo from the Belfry where you can see the entire city and its river. On the right is a photo I took from the ground when I saw the Church of Our Lady from a distance. This church is one of the most prominent buildings in Bruges.|
|The city of Bruge is famous for its medieval history and its canal system. Although I’ll admit that it’s a very beautiful city, it definitely is no comparison to Venice. My visit to Bruges wasn’t organized and I never ended up taking a tour as I should have. Above is a photo of one of the main sections of the canal, with a tourist boat passing through on the right. Below are the canals on the outskirts of the city and a large swan I saw during the evening.|
|The canals aren’t brightly lit up or decorated in the evening, but there’s enough light that it’s definitely an enjoyable walk. I needed to practice my night shots for my trip to the arctic in the following month, so walking around Bruge at night was the perfect opportunity.|
|The city center is packed with restaurants, pubs, and food stands. Some of them are pretty expensive as you can imagine. I saw a few places advertising during the day for about 30 euros, or over $40 just for lunch! The restaurant you see on the left was on the outskirts of the city center, the cafe and pub were nearly dead center.|
|While I was in Brussels I woke up too late to get a Belgian waffle for breakfast. Actually I woke up too late again in Bruges, but fortunately Belgian waffles are everywhere and available even at night. Above are some of the gourmet Belgian waffles that are popular in the country. The one I purchased was from a small stand and even included a Beglian Flag.|
|The’re a lot of shopping to be done in Bruges for those that are interested. As a matter of fact there are so many tourists and shops to accommodate them that locals have complained that they feel they’re living in Disneyland rather than Bruges. Above shows a man doing some window shopping at a store selling souvenirs and Christmas gifts. On the upper left is a large cafe and shop that’s located right outside the grote markt. Below are some local musicians and a large chocolate store that I visited.|
|I had heard that in Bruge there is an ice sculpture festival from November through January. Being that temperatures were above freezing I found this hard to believe, but took a leap of faith and walked across the city to the location it was supposed to be at. I had imagined guys with saws cutting away random ice creations and displaying their talents to fellow tourists. As it turns out there is a festival here inside an indoor facility kept at a temperature of -6C or 21F. Beyond that, it’s actually run by Disney and shows most of their most famous characters
Above is what I thought was probably one of the most difficult creations, a giant detailed ship with lots of small delicate pieces. Of course Mickey and Minnie are on the upper right. I’m not sure what the lower left guy is. The blue ice and red coloring is created by lighting by the way. When using my flash to provide my own light you can see the true crystal clear ice.