What attracts six million tourists annually to this tiny Flemish city? The answer to this and more in my guided tour of Bruges. I will show you the best of what’s to see in the city’s Golden Triangle and tell you the most relevant tales from the past and the present about the Venice of the North: how splendor and poverty succeeded each other in the city’s history; how Bruges became a tourist destination and culinary Mecca; and how it’s now dealing with its heritage and the millions of tourists it attracts every year.
The tour starts at the entrance to the Belfry tower on Market square. We will walk through downtown and see the city’s main monuments and some of its hidden gems. We will visit the medieval business center of Bruges where merchants from all over Europe used to buy and sell their goods in the busy markets of the continent’s chief trading hub. You will hear about one very resourceful Bruges family that left its mark on many European languages. If you are interested in architecture, then we will spend more time on Burg square, where stunning examples of the most prominent European architectural styles compete for your attention. And, of course, I will tell you about the relic of the Holy Blood, coveted by the great and small alike, from the Counts of Flanders to the hitman Ken from the 2008 movie In Bruges. You will hear some of the many local legends and discover how the people of Bruges got the nickname “fools”. We will visit the Bruges beguinage, and you will learn the difference between a beguinage and a monastery, and why of all European beguinages, only these ones in the historic Netherlands survived. We will stop by one of the two operational Bruges breweries where you will see how contemporary artisans creatively solve the problem of expanding production facilities in a medieval, UNESCO world-heritage-site city. If there is such a thing as a Bruges expert, then you’ll become one after taking my walking tour.