Things to do in Bruges, Belgium and Day trips from Bruges

Though it is a small city, there are a number of tourist places in Bruges. There are numerous churches, museums, squares (9 of them), bridges (the town has over 54 of them), parks, greens, lakes, canals, city gates, windmills, bell tower, city hall et al. It’s one amazing “medieval” package!

Bruges can be visited as a day trip from Brussels. It takes a little more than an hour’s drive from Brussels to Bruges. The drive is scenic and exceptionally beautiful. Bruges can also be visited as a day trip from Antwerp. It takes about an hour and a half from Antwerp to Bruges.

What is the best time to visit Bruges? The best time to visit Bruges would be the late Spring to early Fall. The summer months are great for outdoor exploration and activities. Typically the summer months have temperatures hovering around the 70s (in Fahrenheit). It is hence very pleasant and perfect for walking and cycling.

Things to do in Bruges  –

1 )The Belfry and the Cloth Hall  in the Markt Square

2) The Basilica of the Holy Blood in Burg (Heilige Bloed Basiliek)

3) Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwkerk)

4) The Beguinage (Begijnhof)

5) Jerusalem Church, Bruges

6) The Town Hall /City Hall / Stadhuis of Bruges (Brugge)

7) Groening’s Museum

8) Gruuthuse Museum

9) The Hospital of St. John (Sint-Janshospitaal) 

10) St. Saviour’s Cathedral (Sint Salvators-Kathedraal)

11) The Diamond Museum

12) The Choco-Story

13) The Lace Centre (v.z.w. Kantcentrum)

Apart from these places one can just go around – walking on the winding cobbled streets within the city, have a ride in the horse carriage, boat rides in the canals etc. There are the medieval gates to city which though not such a beauteous architectural wonder, is interesting due to the historic importance. Originally constructed in the 13th-14th centuries these were part of the city fortifications. They include Blacksmith’s Gate (or Smedenpoort – which has a metal skull stuck to it), Cross Gate (or Kruispoort), Ghent Gate (Gentpoort), Blind Donkey’s Gate (or Ezelpoort – near the Town Hall). The city has number of spots for just hanging around absorbing the natural and historic environment – like the Grote Markt, Minnewater Lake, Wijngaard Square, the Burg square, Grunrei (a street approachable from an alley next to the City Hall), the Vismarkt (Bruges Fish market), Queen Astrid Park (in the memory of Queen Astrid, a popular young queen who died in 1935) et al.  There are other places like St. Anne’s Church in St. Annakerkstraat (consecrated in 1624 and has a beautiful interior much in marble), St. Walburgha’s Church in St. Maartensplein (a baroque church built by Brugean Jesuit in 1619-1642), the Museum of Lighting (Lumina Domestica) on Wijnzakstraat, St. Sabastian’s Archers’ Guild, St. Trudo Abbey Male (former castle of the counts of Flanders and now convent of the canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre), Public Observatory Beisbroek – a well equipped observatory and planetarium located at Zeewag 96, 8200 Sint-Andries, Ter Doest (a 13th century gothic barn), Bladelin Court (built c. 1440)

Depending on the time of visit there are events in Bruges (Brugge) which people can check out. In May the procession of the Holy Blood have enactments of Biblical stories etc. Every year from November to January there is a snow and ice sculpture festival held on the station square of Bruges. This exhibit is conducted in a hall with temperatures maintained at -6°C  (21°F). A number of various cultural events take place at the Concert Building.

Bruges tourist office address:
In&uit – Toerisme Brugge
The Concert Hall
Concertgebouw Brugge
‘t Zand 34, 8000 Brugge
Phone: +32 50 47 69 99 / 50 44 46 46
Timings: Daily 10am – 6pm; Thursdays  till 8pm.

Also for tourist information –
In&uit – Toerisme Brugge
PO Box 744
B-8000 Brugge
Tel. +

Day Trips from Bruges (Brugge)

One can have day trips from Bruges to nearby towns.  The journey is exhilarating due to the wonderful scenic beauty of the countryside.  Some of these places include –

Damme – a scenic picturesque village which can be accessed by a cruise or bus or even bike.

Oostende – about twenty minus by train, this is a 19th century beach resort built by King Leopold II (1865-1909).

Ieper/Ypres – an important site of Great War (1914-1918) battles, cemeteries and monuments. People interested in wars would find it interesting. On Armistice Day (11th November), a number of commemorative events are held here every year including a service of Remembrance, the Poppy Parade, the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial etc.

Atlantic Wall – about 10 minutes away in the direction of Raversijde, there are trenches and galleries dating back to the World Wars.

Zeebrugge – the port of Bruges, 20 minutes away.

Places to see in Bruges –

The Markt (Market) Square-Bruges, Belgium

The first place any tourist will land up in Bruges is the Markt (Market) Square, the Grote Markt of Bruges. Next to it is another square called Burg. From Markt to Burg one can take the Breidelstr in the Wollestraat direction. There are number of lanes/streets leading to all directions from the squares. These are areas one can just walk and soak in the feel of the city. There are restaurants and stores too in these streets.

The place looks medieval with gothic-style architecture. But some constructions are fairly modern though they have adhered to the old existing design and architecture of the city. There have been a lot of repairs and reconstructions following fires and wars.  Statue at Market Square, Bruges, Belgium
In the Markt Square of Bruges, the centre has a statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. This commemorates the memory of the two leaders of the 14th century who led the Flemish revolt against French occupation in 1302 A.D.
To the north of the square is the Provincial Court. This is a beautiful neo-gothic structure. Its predecessor was in Classical style in the early 1800s. But an 1878 fire destroyed the building and the new structure was built in neo-gothic style matching the rest of the city. It is flanked by the Bruges Post Office on the eastern side.

The southern side of the square has a stretch of houses and guilds in medieval style. Though they look medieval, not all are so old. Some are relatively recent reconstructions. There are restaurants, cafes and stores here.

However, the main attraction of the square is the Belfry and the Cloth Hall. This imposing structure attracts attention immediately.

There are horse carriages on which one can take a ride – its fun! The square looks splendid at night with all the lights coming on. This is a great place to start and end the day’s tour – since one can just hang around. Sometimes there are concerts held here (we didn’t get a chance to enjoy it however).

Belfry (Belfort) of Bruges – Belgium

The Belfry of Bruges or Belfort is a bell tower with history dating as far back as 1240 when construction was started on the halls and the tower. By 1280 it was ready. The structure included the four wings of the cloth hall and the square parts of the belfry.  The square tower was crowned with a wooden spire. But in August 1280 a fire destroyed the wooden crown. By 1300 it was repaired. The bells were used by the residents
during various occasions – good and bad. There were bells with different sounds meant for announcing different things. They were used to announce the time, weddings, judicial hearings, work hours, opening and closing of the city gates, wars and fires, entry of the King, start of the fair, the new Church year etc. Thus the bells were an integral part of the people’s lives. In the 16th century the tower got a carillon with the help of which the bells could be played with a hand keyboard. Today the bells number 47. Apart from these, the tower also used to house the city’s important documents and municipal archives many of which were lost in the first fire. The octagonal top of the tower was built between 1482 and 1486. This had a wooden spire with the image of St. Michael with banner in hand and dragon under the feet.

In 1493 another fire broke out (due to lightning) which destroyed the woodwork, the St. Michael image and the bells. It was rebuilt and the wooden spire crowned the tower again. More reconstruction and renovation took place in 1542 and 1560. In 1741 again a fire caused much damage! But in the rebuilding thereafter, the wooden spire was not replaced. This reduced the current height of the tower from what it was earlier with the spire. The tower was restored by 1822.

The tower is actually a part of a rectangular building (the halls) with a courtyard. This was the cloth hall when Bruges was the center of Flemish cloth industry centuries ago. Today it dominates the square and is a symbol of the city. One can (for a fee) climb the steep 366 steps up the tower and enjoy the view of the city from the top.

  Location of the Belfry in Bruges – The Markt Square, Bruges.
How to reach the Belfry – Walk from the station or take the frequent buses running every 10 minutes from the station to the centre of the City.

Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek)-Bruges (Brugge), Belgium

This church is located in the Burg square near the Town Hall. It has two chapels. It has an ornate façade and has some small golden hued statues atop. It is a small chapel. The lower one is the St. Basil (a figure of the Greek church) chapel and a wide staircase leads to the first floor to the chapel of the Holy Blood.  This dates back to the 12th century (circa 1139-1149) but was promoted to Basilica in 1923. The Basilius chapel in the lower part is in the Romanesque style. This is a comparatively darker and simple chapel than the one above it. It indeed looks very medieval! 

Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek)-Bruges (Brugge)
Of this double chapel the main tourist attraction is the Chapel of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek).  It has been damaged twice – once in the 16th century and then in the 18th century, this time by the French Republicans, only to be rebuilt both times. It was originally built in the Romanesque style but when it was rebuilt it was completely changed into the gothic style. Later in 1823 more renovations were done.  The mural decorations and much of the stained glass windows date to the renovations in the 19th century. The original stained glass windows were removed after the attack by French republicans. Some have landed up in museums in London. It’s beautiful inside – the paintings and the stained glass windows make it colorful. The rounded wooden carved pulpit placed much above the ground also draws one’s attention. What I found striking was the difference between the lower floor and the first floor. The lower part was so austere while the upper part was lot more decorated and ornate.

The Chapel of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek) is where the small vial is kept which is believed to contain a piece of cloth stained with the blood of Christ said to have been wiped from his body by Jeseph of Arimathea, after the crucifixion. It was brought to Bruges in 1150 by the Count of Flanders, Diederik van de Elzas, after the second crusade. Paintings depicting the count handing over the relic to the bishop can be found in the town hall nearby. There is a silver tabernacle where the relic is kept. It is said to have been presented by Albert and Isabella of Spain in 1611. The public can see the relic every Friday (8 AM to 3 PM).

While from the 3rd to 17th May it is shown everyday. On Ascension Day (in May), it is taken on a procession in the streets of Bruges (Helig-Bloed processie). It is a major event for the city when people dress up in medieval dresses and costumes and join the procession and enact scenes from the Bible. The relic is preserved inside a rock-crystal vial which in turn is inside a cylindrical glass container with ornate gold crown at both ends.

Beside the upper chapel there is a one room museum housing the chapel treasures, paintings and the reliquaries (containers or repositories to store sacred relics) for the relic. The prominent reliquary is the one created by a goldsmith, Jan Crabbe, in 1617. It is an exquisite piece made of gold and silver and embedded with precious stones. The second reliquary almost evolved over three centuries. It is originally from 1612 while its sliver lid is from 1716 and in 1890 a golden flower garland was added to the lid.

Recently historians have been interested in learning more details about the rock crystal container and the blood. It was found that the container dates back to the 11th or 12th century from the area of Constantinople (present Istanbul in Turkey). It is thus thought to have come from there and not from Jerusalem as is believed by believers. The container has never been opened after its arrival to Bruges.

The timings of the Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges – 
April-Sept.: 9:30 AM – 12 PM and 2 PM – 6 PM
Oct- March: 10 AM – 12 PM and 2 PM – 4 PM
Closed on Wednesday afternoons, Nov. 1, Dec 25 and Jan 1.
The entry to the Basilica is free but there is a small entry fee for the museum. Free for children under 12.

Church of Our Lady & Statue of Madonna and the Child – Bruges, Belgium

A good walk further south of the Markt Square, off Mariastraat is located the Church of our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk), famous for the amazing Michelangelo Sculpture of Madonna and the Child. The church dates back to the 13th century and even today this remains the tallest structure in the city with its tower at over 400 ft. (122m). This church has the tombs of Charles the Bold and his daughter the duchess Mary. Inside the church it’s magnificent. The artwork, the imposing high ceiling, the sheer feel of the place are amazing. You can actually “feel” the antiquity of the place. And of course the famed statue – it’s remarkable.

The Bruges Madonna was one of Michelangelo’s early works and the only one to leave Italy during his lifetime. It was sculpted around 1504 A.D. shortly after the Pieta. It was bought by two brothers who were cloth merchants in Bruges. This family, the Mouscrons, donated the statue to the Church. The sculpture has had its own share of adventure over the centuries – initially, in the late 16th century during the “Counter-Reformation” or “Catholic Reformation” this statue remained covered because it depicted nudity. Later, the French seized it after they took over Belgium in 1792. The statue was returned after Napoleon’s defeat. Then in 1944 (during Second World War), the Germans took it and was later retrieved by American troops after the end of war. 

The Madonna of Bruges depicts Mary with the infant Jesus. It is sculpted in marble.  The statue depicts a seated Mary with the toddler Jesus trying to take a step and being lightly supported by Mary’s left arm and leg. It is exactly what toddlers do when they have just learned to walk. It is a very comfortable and secure position for the child.

According to the art experts this sculpture is different from the normal depictions of Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus in her arms with a serene expression. In this sculpture Mary does not look at her son and does not cling to him. The interpretation has been that she already knows what is in store for son even as he is trying to step way from his mother and into the world.This is a truly moving sculpture. 

  There is a certain amount of melancholy attached to it – almost like when I saw the Pieta (in Vatican). I don’t know whether it’s my imagination or whether it is actually so – I felt that there was some resemblance between the toddler’s and mother’s faces. It was, I think, the lips which were slightly similar. It’s almost like there is a possibility that when the toddler’s face is aged it will look like the mother’s. Hey – this is just what I felt. Maybe it must have been my imagination. I wonder if anybody else thought so too. After all it is Michelangelo! Anything is possible! I have been a great admirer of Michelangelo – hence absolutely loved Florence (but that’s for later).
There is a nice article I came across on this sculpture. It is called “A Michelangelo in Belgium? The Bruges Madonna” – by Jerry R. Hobbs

The Church of Our Lady location –  Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerkhof Zuid
Timings – Mon-Fri- 9 AM to 12:30 PM & 1:30 P.M. to 5 P.M; Sat – 9AM-12:30PM & 1:30-4PM; Sun – 1:30-5PM.

There is a museum here where entry fee has to be paid. But entry to the church and Madonna and Child alter is free.

The Beguinage (Begijnhof) of Bruges, Belgium

A little walk down Mariastraat onto Katelijnestraat and turning right into Wijngaardstraat one would come upon the Beguinage of Bruges and Wijngaardplein. The Beguinage is across the bridge over the canal. This is located just north of Minnewater. It is essentially rows of dwellings which were earlier used by the “Beguines”. There is a church, a small museum and these dwellings surround an area of grass and poplar trees.

The Beguinage of Bruges was established in  1245. It was set up by the Countess of Flanders, Margaretha of Constantinople who brought together the beguines of Bruges. “Beguines” (Beghards) were semi-monastic communities of Roman Catholic lay women.  It is said to have had its origins in Liege (in Belgium) around 1170-80 A.D. In the 12th-13th centuries there were women in the region of Netherlands, Belgium, western part of Germany, north-eastern parts of France etc. who lived alone engaged in prayers and good work. But they did not take any formal vows or renounce the world. They could return to the world and wed if they wanted to. She also could own property. The Beguines never took alms; they worked for a living. They made lace, taught children, gardened, became nurses etc. They came from all social echelons thus contributing to their diversity. They increased in number in the 13th century. This was mainly due to the crusades where a lot of men lost their lives thus leaving increased number of women alone. The Beguines gradually started grouping their dwellings together to form the Beguinage. The Beguinage would be often protected by a wall and were located away from the town centers. The Beguines were headed or “ruled” over by the “grand mistress” or “grand dame”.  In fact at the Beguinage of Bruges one can see the house originally occupied by the “grand dame”. It is the larger than the others and is the most striking one too.

The Beguinage (Begijnhof) of Bruges, Belgium

The original church here dates back to the 13th century. However it was destroyed in a fire in 1584 and rebuild in 1609. Its current baroque style was obtained after a renovation later. Most of the current houses here date back to 17th-18th centuries. Some were built in the 19th century too.

In 1937 this became a monastery for the Benedictine nuns. Today part of the dwellings is occupied by a group of Benedictine nuns. Some ordinary single women of all ages also stay here. Apart from Bruges, Beguinages can be seen in other cities in Belgium like Gent, Kortrijt, Mechelen, Leuven,  etc. and also in Amsterdam and Breda in Netherlands, Cambrai in France etc. 

Actually for the tourists there isn’t much to see here. If you have come for a short time it is better to finish with other places and then pop in here if time permits.
Location of Beguinage, Bruges: Wijngaardstraat, Brugge, Belgium

Jerusalem Church, Bruges (Brugge), Belgium

Location of Jerusalem Church, Bruges – Corner of Balstraat, Jerusalemstraat, Peperstraat, Rodestraat. These streets converge at this point. This falls on the route to see the windmills which can be done by taking the Stijn Streuvelsstraat from the church. Next to it is the Lace Centre where lace-making demonstrations take place in the afternoon and also lace materials are available for purchase.

Jerusalem church in Bruges

Privately owned, this church dates back to the 14th century when a chapel was built. The church was completed in 1470. It was built by the Adornes family who were merchants from Genoa in Italy. They came to Bruges in the 13th century. Even today the church is owned by their descendents.

The design of the church is supposed to have been taken from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Inside the church is a tomb of Anselm Adornes and his wife, Vander Banck. The tomb is rather unsettling with embossed life-sized images positioned as lying on their back. There is an artificial tomb here suggesting the tomb of Christ. This church also has stained glass windows dating back to 1482-1560 which provide a colorful relief for the interiors. The church does look its age. This church has largely been preserved as it was in the earlier centuries.

The City Hall/ Town Hall/ Stadhuis, Bruges, Belgium

The City Hall of Bruges is located in the Burg Square close to the Bruges Tourist Office and the Basilica of Holy Blood. Tourists can visit the Gothic Chamber in the first floor which can be accessed through a  staircase from the entrance. This along with the Historical Chamber contains a number of works of art, documents, paintings and murals which shows the grandeur of the city’s past. The ceiling and artwork in the Gothic Hall would delight any visitor. It is splendid.

The outside artwork of the building reminded me of the Town hall in Brussels. I thought maybe it is copied from the Brussels Town Hall. But it seems actually the Bruges (brugge) Town Hall is the predecessor.

Location of  The City Hall/ Town Hall/ Stadhuis, Bruges:
Burg 12, 8000 Bruges (Brugge)
Timings: 9:30am – 5 pm (Mondays Closed)

The City Hall of Bruges dates back to 1376 – 1421. In 1376 Count Louis gave the order to demolish the existing edifice and replace it with a good City Hall. The City Hall was built under the supervision of Jan Roegiers and it was completed in 1421. It was one of the oldest of such buildings and later led to being imitated in Brussels, Ghent etc. This gorgeous building is evidence of the prosperity of the city in the 14th – 15th centuries. The façade of the building is highly detailed with images of Biblical and historical figures. The historical figures represent the rulers/counts/countesses of Flanders and a knight. These figures however have undergone repair and retouching over the centuries. Especially after the French Revolution when many of the original images were destroyed. Some of these original pieces are with various museums. The destroyed images were replaced by new and updated images. The latest changes were as recent as 1989. The roof and towers also have art work.
Town hall Bruges, Belgium

The interior was also had a grandiose look. A fire in 1887 damaged much of the interior. The renovations thereafter, took place between 1895-1905 and was conducted under the aegis of Louis and Jean-Baptist Delacenserie Bethune. The current Gothic Hall is a result of the merger of big and small halls. This is a beautiful hall, highly decorated and has an unusual oak ceiling. This place stores medallions with images of prophets, saints and evangelists. The neo-gothic huge chimney is a later addition. The building is beautifully lit at night. Overall it is a must visit place.

Nearby is the tourist office of Bruges. The address of tourist office of Bruges
11 Bruges, 8000 Brugge
Tel. 050/44.86.86- fax 050/44.86.00

The Groening Museum, Bruges

There are a number of Museums in Dijver street. The Groening Museum has one of the best collections of medieval art in Europe. It is also known as the “City Museum of Fine Arts”. Though it has paintings from the 15th century onwards, the building itself dates back to 1929-30. The name Groeninge it seems refers to the nearby Groeninge fields in the city of Kortrijk (Courtrai). Here the French army was defeated by the Flemish in 1302. There is also a street named Groeninge nearby (towards Gruuthusestraat). It has Flemish works from the 15th century onwards and is especially known for the works by the Flemish Primitives.

The “Flemish Primitives” nomenclature actually refers to artists who were the “first” to use new painting techniques of the middle ages. They essentially came from the Lower Countries region. There are works of Jan van Eyck, Bosch, Rogier van der Weyden, Bram Bogart, Paul Delvaux, James Ensor, Emile Claus, Hans Memling, Raveel etc. The range of exhibitions includes paintings of the Renaissance and Baroque schools, works from the Neo-Classical and Realistic periods (18th & 19th centuries), several pieces from Symbolist and Modernist times, from Flemish Expressionists, and post-1945 modern art. The display of the exhibits changes regularly.

Address of Groening’s Museum, Bruges (Brugge):
Dijver 12, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Ph. – 050-44-87-51
Wakable distance from the Markt Square.
Timings – Everyday 9:30 am – 5 pm
Closed on – Mondays (except Easter Monday & Whit Monday), 25th Dec, 1st Jan, Ascension Day

In 2009 the museum will be closed from February 2nd to march 26th. Then on March 27th new expositions will be opened viz. ‘Karel de Stoute (1433-77), Pracht en Praal in Bourgondië (Charles the Bold (1433-1477), Splendour in Burgundy. These will be at the Groeninge Museum and the Welcome Church of Our Lady.

Gruuthuse Museum, Bruges (Brugge), Belgium

Further down on the Dijver from Groeninge Museum, is the Gruuthuse Museum. It is located behind Church of Our lady. The building is a former 15th century palace (House of Gruuthuse) of the Lords of Gruuthuse. They made their fortune through the monopoly of “gruut”,  blend of spices and herbs  used in making beer. This kind of beer where instead of hops, gruut was used is called Witbier or White Beer or Witte and was mainly brewed in Belgium. The Archeological Society of Bruges started the current exhibit in 1865. In 1955 it was acquired by the city of Bruges which expanded the collection and the museum.

Address of Gruuthuse Museum:
17 Dijver, 8000 Brugge
Timings: Everyday 9:30am – 5 pm
Closed on – Mondays (except Easter and Whit Monday)

This museum has a wide range of items on display –from weapons to silver ware and musical instruments. It also has 16th-17th century furniture, tapestries etc. Sculptures, metal ware, ceramics, glass etc. are also included in the exhibits. And there is also a French Guillotine.

The Hospital of St. John (Sint-Janshospitaal), Bruges (Brugge), Belgium

The St. John’s Hospital of yester years is now the Memling in Sint-Janshospitaal Museum. It is one of the oldest Hospital buildings in Europe. It gives a poignant view of the medieval hospital. A tribute to those times the exhibits include paintings, statues, furniture, silver works, etc. The works of the famous artist Hans Memling are featured here. The hospital chapel and the St. Ursula Shrine are his creations. There is an old apothecary and an herb garden which people can visit.

Address of Sint-Janshospitaal (Hospital of St. John):
Mariastraat 38, B-8000 Bruges
Timings: Everyday 9:30am – 5 pm
Closed on – Mondays (except Easter and Whit Monday)

Memling (1430-1494) though born in Germany, spent much of his adult life in Bruges where he came in 1465. Memling worked under Roger van der Weyden. Memling’s works are seen not only in Belgium but also France, Germany and England. Some of the notable masterpieces are The Seven Griefs of Mary (in Turin), Seven Joys of Mary (Munich), Crucifixion, Christopher and Saints, etc.

Hospital of St. John, Bruges, Belgium

St. Saviour’s Cathedral (Sint Salvators-kathedraal), Bruges, Belgium

Towards the south-west of the Market Square, is located the St. Saviours Cathedral on the Sint-Salvatorskerkhof  . The Heilige-Geeststraat leads from this street to Mariastraat where the Church Of Our Lady is located. One can visit these two churches one after the other.

Address of  St. Saviour’s Cathedral (Sint Salvators-kathedraal), Bruges:
Sint-Salvatorskerkhof, 8000 Brugge
Timings: Sunday – Friday – 2 pm – 5pm
Church Service – Saturday – 4pm & Sunday – 10:30am

The Sint Salvators-kathedraal is the oldest Parish Church in Bruges. It dates back to the 10th century. Originally it was just a parish church and only obtained its Cathedral status only in the 19th century. This church has been damaged and repaired a number of times  over the centuries. In fact the lower level is distinctly different form from the upper ones – a result of building on top of an existing structure. Like many other structures in Bruges, the French destroyed this church in the late 18th century. Bruges became independent in 1830 and in 1834, a new Bishop was installed and the Sint Salvator became a cathedral. However it did not have an impressive construction for a cathedral. In 1839 a fire damaged much of the cathedral’s roof. The subsequent restoration process aimed to make it the highest tower in the city in neo-gothic style. But the English architect William Chantrell built it in the Romanesque style. The pyramidal roof on top was added later since the flat roof was not accepted.

Attractions here include the Gobelins (tapestry rich in pictorial design, originally from 15th century Paris), rood-loft (a gallery for reading and chanting) with organ, Choir stalls and also a number of paintings, gold, silver and copper art works.

The Diamond Museum (Diamantmuseum Brugge), Bruges, Belgium

This Museum housed in an unassuming building is one of only 5 diamond museums in the world. Since Bruges has an important place in the evolution of the diamond trade in Belgium, it is only fitting that such a museum is established here. It has been known that it was in Bruges that the art of diamond polishing was invented in the 15th century when a local goldsmith Lodewijk van Berquem invented a diamond polishing wheel.

Address of Diamantmuseum (The Diamond Museum)Bruges :
Katelijnestraat 43, 8000 Bruges
Timings: 10:30 am – 5:30pm
Diamond polishing demonstration: 12:15 pm
Phone: + 32 50 34 20 56

The exhibits inside the museum are – a replication of the workshop of Lodewijk van Berquem, a replica of the crown of Margaret of York, sample of the early middle age Bruges imports and exports, original mining equipment , a mining shaft and manufacturing tools for sawing, bruting and polishing and a 1:1 scale model, in cubic zirconium, of the entire quantity of world diamond production. The museum also has scores of real diamonds.

Daily at 12:15 pm there is a diamond polishing demonstration done by a diamond polisher in the museum’s polishing workshop. This is located in the basement (now restored) dating back to the middle ages.

The museum takes one through the journey of the diamond over the centuries starting with origins of the gem in India to the 15th century Bruges, the moving of the diamond industry from Bruges to Antwerp in the 16th century and then to Amsterdam in 17th and 18th centuries to the diamond mining in South Africa today. Other interesting objects are Flemish jewellery during the middle-ages, exhibit on the formation of diamond within the earth, the industrial use of diamonds.

For buying diamonds in Bruges, on Katelijnestraat itself there is a diamond showroom. Another one is in Cordoeaniersstraat.
Official site.

Choco-Story (Chocolate museum) – Bruges (Brugge), Belgium

This deals with the history of chocolates starting from the Mayans and Aztecs of the ancient Americas who used the cocoa beans extensively. The choco-story deals with the journey of chocolate from that era to the present times- a 2500 year history. The details of the production of various kinds and forms of chocolates can be seen here. There are over a thousand original artifacts related to chocolate production. After the tour one can get to sample the museum’s in-house chocolates creations.

Address of Chocolate museum in Bruges:
Sint-Jansstraat 7b, 8000 Bruges
Timings: Daily 10 am to 5 pm

The most famous and “official” chocolate of the city is the “Brugsch Swaantje” (Bruges Swan) which is available at almost all chocolatiers in the city who are members of Bruges Chocolate Guild.

The Lace Centre (Kantcentrum), Bruges (Brugge), Belgium

Address of Kantcentrum (The lace centre), Brugge:
Peperstraat 3A, B-8000 Bruges
+32 (0) 50 33 00 72
Timings: Weekdays- 10 am – 12 noon and 2 – 6 pm
Saturdays- 10am – 12 noon and 2-5 pm
Closed: Sundays and public holidays

In the afternoon lace making demonstrations take place in the open lace atelier . Combined tickets available for lace museum, open lace atelier and the Jerusalem Church.

The history of lace in Bruges dates back to 1717 when the Sisters Apostoline set up a lace school in Ganzestraat. Subsequently Bruges became famous for its laces.
Kantcentrum (Lace centre) a non-profit entity was founded in 1970 to continue encouraging this traditional art in the city. It is an authority on hand made lace, it has a museum, it organizes lace making demonstrations for visitors, runs courses on lace making, publishes its own quarterly lace magazine, sells lace related books and materials.

This is next to the Jerusalem church. Hence a combined visit is possible.