The Historic Centre of Brugge – a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage site
Added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites in 2000, Brugge has been described as “an outstanding example of a medieval historic settlement, which has maintained its historic fabric as this has evolved over the centuries, and where original Gothic constructions form part of the town’s identity. As one of the commercial and cultural capitals of Europe, Brugge developed cultural links to different parts of the world. It is closely associated with the school of Flemish Primitive painting.”
Despite its small size, Brugge represents one of the most important landmarks on any European’s tourist map. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the town each year and mingle with the locals – there are only 120,000 inhabitants. It represents one of the best samples of a pre-motorised European city. Brugge is definitely a charming little town, its quaint architecture, narrow cobblestone paved streets, cozy boutiques all contribute to a picture-perfect landscape which should be on everyone’s bucket list for places you must see at least once in your lifetime.
The Criteria for Inscription on the UNESCO list
Criterion (ii): The Historic Town of Brugge is testimony, over a long period, of a considerable exchange of influences on the development of architecture, particularly in brick Gothic, as well as favouring innovative artistic influences in the development of medieval painting, being the birthplace of the school of the Flemish Primitives.
Criterion (iv): The Historic Town of Brugge is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble, illustrating significant stages in the commercial and cultural fields in medieval Europe, of which the public, social, and religious institutions are a living testimony.
Criterion (vi): The town of Brugge has been the birthplace of the Flemish Primitives and a centre of patronage and development of painting in the Middle Ages with artists such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.
I visited the beautiful town of Brugge on a late November, probably one of the best times to explore it, considering this is somewhat outside the touristic season. Even so, there were plenty of people around. As Christmas was close, there were already Christmas markets packet with delightful souvenirs set all over the main squares and the small streets around them. I only got to spend around 3-4 hours there, but I was very impressed by the beautifully preserved architecture, the many canals, the cheerful Christmas atmosphere, the multitude of bicycles, of how popular with tourists the place is, even outside the season, the chic boutiques and the artistic feel all around (art galleries, modern statues and monuments wonderfully incorporated with the medieval architecture). It was hands down my favorite town to visit in Belgium, it is the perfect example of Europe at its best, a gorgeous town.
Anyone who has a chance should see this town which was rightfully recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Bare in mind though that it is one of the main tourist spots in Europe and, given its small size, it will be packed to annoyance during the tourist season. Also, this is not a cheap destination, so I’d recommend it for a day trip, but if you’re traveling on a budget, pack some snacks.
This article was submitted by Iulia of The Pink Moustache travel blog, a collection of sophisticated travel stories. A perpetual expat and wanderer, Iulia is now temporarily back in Romania, her home country, where she is spending her last months on the old continent, preparing for her biggest adventure to date: backpacking all the way to China, where she is to spend the next couple of years.