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Experience Medieval Art and Architecture in Picturesque Brugge

First settled by Vikings, this Flemish city grew into a nexus of medieval trade routes. It has withstood economic downturns and world wars and remains one of the best-preserved examples of a medieval European settlement. Brugge is located in Belgium’s Flanders region. The town’s strategic location on the North Sea made it into a major commercial center. Traders from around the continent met here, bringing a hodgepodge of languages and cultural influences. The city grew into a hub of art and architecture during the Renaissance. It was the center of the Flemish Primitives painting school and home to master artists, Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling. However, over the years, the city’s fortunes turned. By the 1500s, Antwerp had supplanted Brugge as a trading center. Just three hundred years later, the city was one of the poorest in Europe. Today, guests flock from around Europe and beyond to float down the city’s historic canals and under its picturesque stone bridges. Many of the original Gothic structures remain, including the imposing 13th-century belfry overlooking the town square. Enterprising visitors can climb 366 steps for a panoramic view of the city. The medieval structures blend harmoniously with the neo-Gothic buildings and facades constructed in the late 19th century, preserving the town’s Old World atmosphere. Brugge is easily accessible from the Ostend-Bruges International Airport or a short day-trip from Brussels. Late spring and early fall are the best times to visit this picturesque Flemish town.
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