The weather here in Europe is well and truly on its way into winter. The lovely Autumn leaves are mostly on the ground and the air is growing crisper each day. It seems amazing that only a few short months ago we were visiting Bruges in the height of summer. The night before we left for our holiday to Belgium and France we watched the film “In Bruges” to put us in the mood for our first destination. “In Bruges” is a weird and darkly funny movie, and one of the main reasons a lot of people know of, and want to visit Bruges. Bruges is a lovely old medieval town, with cobbled streets and beautiful old buildings. However the Bruges of the film is vastly different from the Bruges we visited, because of the season. Wandering the streets and canals in 35 degree heat (celsius) is a very different experience to the romantic image of cold, snow and Christmas lights we see in the film. Now all this doesn’t mean summer in Bruges is bad, but it was certainly a very hot and sweaty way to explore this pretty town!
Let me take you on a photographic tour of Summer in Bruges:
We walked into the city from the train station. The outer streets are lovely and quiet before you get into the main part of the city where suddenly the place is packed with tourists. The houses are lovely, and even the big shops are placed in gorgeous old buildings with intricate facades and details.
The most recognisable part of Bruges is the markt (main square) which is dominated by the Halle and Belfry. This is the tower that Ken climbs in the film, and Ray offends some American tourists by telling them they’re too fat to climb it. It’s also where (spoilers if you haven’t seen the film) Ken eventually plummets to his death in order to warn Ray that their boss is there to kill him. We didn’t climb the belfry because we were both so darn hot just walking around that we didn’t think we’d survive 366 steps to the top as well!
To the right of the above photo is the belfry, the statue in the middle is of two heroes from the Battle of the Golden Spurs, and the Neo-Gothic building to the left is the Provinciaal Hof building which is the seat of the provincial government. It had so many beautiful details on it, including these little lions:
We found lots of interesting sculptures as we wandered through the streets. We also spotted lots of yummy looking chocolate shops (of course) and a lovely Christmas shop full of beautiful wooden toys and ornaments.
There are lots of those horse-drawn carriage rides that you see in tourist spots. I always feel sorry for the horses, especially on such a boiling hot day they are just out in the sun, dragging people around all day in a carriage. A much better option for sight-seeing would be to go on a canal cruise, or simply walk. Bruges is quite small, apart from it being hot it is very easily walkable.
In the ‘second market square’ can be found more impressive old buildings covered in statues and beautiful details. The gothic town hall dominates the view but you should also pause to look at the Renaissance-styled Old Civil Registry, the Neo-Classicist former Court of Justice building, the Baroque-styled Deanery house, and the late-Gothic Chapel of the Holy Blood.
We then wandered towards the Dijver mansions which sit next to the Dijver canal at what is known as the Rozenhoedkaai; the most photographed point in Bruges. Part of the mansions are now home to the Gruuthusemuseum and the Brangwyn Museum. Opposite this spot is where a lot of the canal tours depart from. We didn’t choose to go on one as we felt like we would just be sitting in the sun the whole time. We basically spent our entire time in Bruges trying to stand in some shade!
Bruges is a beautiful city filled with lots of museums and shops worth exploring. However, we were soon a bit sick of the heat and decided to return to our accommodation nearby and visit the beach instead of sightseeing any more! For more about our lovely accommodation (and the beach!) make sure you come back next week for my second post on Summer in Bruges. Until then, enjoy this last shot of the Minnewaterpark on the outskirts of the town.
Have you ever been to Bruges? Do you think it would be better in winter or summer? Let me know in the comments and pin this for later if you enjoyed reading!