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Published: August 6th 2013
Weather forecast was for a cool, cloudy day with a possibility of showers but we ended up with a glorious, mild, sunny day. First stop was the Markt, a large open square in the Centre of the city ringed by step-galled street cafes and dominated by the 84 metre high Belfort, Belgium's famous medieval bell tower. This is 'the' bell tower in the black comedy 'In Bruges'. The Belfort has 366 steep, narrow steps that lead to the top of the tower. It was quite a claustrophobic experience climbing them especially given that there were people passing you on their way down. Fortunately every so often there is a landing that allows you to take a breather! The 360 degree view from the top was unbelievable. Photos will not do the view justice but hopefully will give you some idea. Climbing down the tower was perhaps even more challenging. There is very little to hold on to so I made Clive go first so if I fell he would break my fall. (Sadly I'm not having a lend here. I really did make Clive go first!) Fortunately (for Clive) I didn't fall.
Next it was off to the Stadhuis (City
View of the Markt from the top of the Belfort.
Hall, built in 1420) which has a magnificent Gothic Hall followed by the Landhuis van het Bruge Vrije (Palace of the Liberty of Bruges). The Renaissance Hall within the Landhuis was used as a court house in the 16th Century and is decorated with a black marble fireplace with an alabastor frieze and oak chimney piece carved with statues of Emporer Charles V. It is beautifully preserved as are most of Bruges landmarks. I can not get my head around how they have managed to survive the centuries and remain in the condition that they are now.
Another must was the Basilca of the Holy Blood, a 12th Century Basilica that houses a phial believed to contain a few coagulated drops of Christ's blood. It was really quite beautiful. A very serene place in spite of the hundreds of tourists that were there.
We ended our day of sight seeing with a canal boat cruise which was the perfect way to see Bruges pretty clusters of historic houses, again, beautifully preserved.
The day finished at wine o'clock in one of the gorgeous little cafes surrounding the Markt. Not shabby!
Oh and did I mention Bruges' chocolatiers,
View from the top of the Belfort.
lace shops and beer? Everywhere you turn . . .
Off to Paris bright and early tomorrow!
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