Sunday 20 April 2014

In Bruges

... the bold modern Concertgebouw stands out in what may be Europe's most perfectly preserved medieval city. 

When I visited in late November last year (yes, my blog has suffered serious neglect) the central market square was just opening its Christmas market stalls, surrounded by colourful flags and buildings.

The burgers of Brugge and their dogs were out and about, looking unimpressed by seasonal tourist trappings, but maybe appreciating like me the amazing smells of fresh baked goodies. 

The Markt is surrounded by cosy bookstores, cafés and restaurants

and towered over by the 12th century belfry, unforgettable (to me, at least) as the site of some particularly grisly scenes involving darkly comedic Irish hitmen in In Bruges.

Sint Salvators cathedral and Church of Our Lady (bottom right)

I loved the Groeninge museum's collection of Flemish Primitive art and the walled gardens of the Arentshuis next door which has these sculptures of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Wandering the cobble-stoned streets surrounding the centre, it's all picture-perfect canals and bridges. 

You begin to see how, compared to many other European cities, Bruges has endured its long history as a prosperous trading port (and focus for Flemish art) pretty much unscathed by both world wars or major upheavals.

 It's friendly, fabulously photogenic, civilised,  almost literally crammed with some of the world's best chocolatiers and restaurants  - I'd go back in a hearbeat.

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