Is it Brugge or Bruges?
Tourists love Bruges but they get confused of name : Is it Brugge or is it Bruges ? Confused by the change in spelling ?
Just so you know what you’re looking for, it is best to remember the French/Flemish language sharing arrangement in Belgium. It’s Bruges in French as well as English, and it’s Brugge in Flemish (or Dutch). As one of the smaller countries in Europe, many visitors to Belgium are surprised to learn it has not one but three official languages: Dutch, French and German.
Brugge (Bruges) is a great city, it seems to have been frozen in time and, in fact, it was. Back about 5 or 600 years ago, it was a busy river port town, but then the harbor silted up and traders moved on. This little walled city didn’t change for centuries, and because it is so well preserved, it’s thriving today.
The Historic Centre of Brugge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The current city is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble, illustrating significant stages in the commercial and cultural fields in medieval Europe.
Brugge in medieval times was known as a commercial metropolis in the heart of Europe. The city reflects a considerable exchange of influences on the development of art and architecture, particularly in brick Gothic, which is characteristic of northern Europe and the Baltic.
This architecture strongly determines the character of the historic centre of the city. The medieval street pattern, with main roads leading towards the important public squares, has mostly been preserved, as well as the network of canals which, once used for mercantile traffic, played an important role in the development of the city.
In the 15th century, Brugge was the cradle of the Flemish Primitives and a centre of patronage and painting development for artists such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.
Many of their works were exported and influenced painting styles all over Europe. Exceptionally important collections have remained in the city until today.
Even after its economic and artistic peak at the end of the Middle Ages, building and urban development continued, although Brugge mostly missed the 19th-century industrial revolution. In the 18th and 19th centuries, many medieval parcels were joined to larger entities and new quarters were also developed.
Brugge is characterized by a continuity reflected in the relative harmony of changes. As part of this continuity, the late 19th century renovation of facades introduced a Neo-Gothic style that is particular for Brugge. The Brugge ‘neo’ style of construction and its restoration philosophy became a subject of interest, study and inspiration.