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Bruges (in Dutch: Brugge), is one of the most visited towns in Belgium. It is the capital of the province of West Flanders, and is also the seat of the Bishop of Brugge. Bruges has a population of just over 117,000, of which around 20,000 live in the old city centre, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, because of the many special buildings in that area. Most of the visitors are attracted to Bruges because of its charm. The channels sometimes make you wonder if you are not in the Netherlands. Not a crazy thought as Belgium was part of the Netherlands until 1830. If you are on a longer trip it makes a perfect break in between cities, like Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.
The Bruges region has a lot of smaller villages. The main city excists of the old inner city, and the neighbourhoods of Sint-Jozef and Sint-Pieter. The most important other piece of the city lies on the shores of the Northsea, and is called Zee-Brugge.
In the old centre there are a couple of buildings that date back until the middle ages. The old centre is a perfect place just to wander around in, and to explore by foot the often narrow streets.
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The tower of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Kerk (Church of our lady) is the highest building in Bruges, as the tower reaches a height of 122 metres. This makes it one of the heighest brick buildings in the world. It houses the sculpture Madonna and Child by Michelangelo. The sculpture was looted two times in history. The first time by the French in 1794, and the second time by the Nazis in 1944. Both times the piece could be recovered.
Another famous landmark of Bruges is the Belfry (or Belfort), also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first tower that stood on this place at the Market square and was build around 1240, but was destroyed in a fire 40 years alter. The tower was rebuild, and in the 15th century the octangular top of the tower was added. In the first years it was topped with a wooden spire, but that also was destroyed by a fire. In the tower there is a carillon, that has 47 bells and is played on regular times. For a great view over Bruges, you can climb the 366 steps to a height of 83 metres. On the bottom of the tower stands the Cloth hall.
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The Basilica of the Holy Blood (Dutch: Heilig-Bloedbasiliek) is a small but beautiful Basilica, next to the City Hall, of which the first part was build in the 12th century. It has two chapels, the lower and the upper chapel, and it was promoted to Basilica in 1923. The lower chapel is dedicated to St. Basil the Great and remained a Romanesque structure. The relic of the holy blood, after which the basilica is named is in the upper chapel, which was rebuilt in the Gothic style during the 15th century.
As the name suggests it is claimed that the blood of Jesus Christ is preserved in a small container in the church. The legends tells us that the relic was brought to Bruges during the second crusade (1147-1149) by Thierry of Alsace. However there is no evidence to back this story, and it's more likely that the relic came to Bruges after the fourth crusade, where it was loothed during the siege of Constantinople. Other evidence suggests that it's even younger. Each Ascencion Day the relic is carried through Bruges at the procession of the Holy blood in which around 3000 people participate, and many times more are present as spectators.
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The weather is hugely influenced by the proximity of the sea; Bruges has a maritime climate with generally mild conditions. Summers are relatively cool with average daytime temperatures around or just above 20 °C and nights of around 12-14 °C. Winters are mild and temperatures stay above 0 °C on average, also during the nights. The driest days occur in the first part of the year, although the difference with the wettest part of the year is not that big.
Ostend-Bruges International Airport is about 25 kilometres from Bruges, located near the coastal city of Ostend, but serves mainly as an airport for charter and package holiday flights to southern Europe. Destinations include Antalya, Bodrum, Izmir, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Alicante, Corfu, Djerba, Crete, Kos, Palma de Mallorca, Rhodes, Tenerife, and Monastir (Tunisia).
Of much more use the Brussels International airport (BRU) and Brussels South Charleroi Airport are the nearest international airports, located near Brussels, which is just about an hour away by car/train/bus.
Bruges’ train station is 1.5 kilometre south of the city centre. There are trains every half-hour to Brussels (one hour) and Ghent (20 minutes). Hourly trains go to Antwerp (70 minutes), De Panne (one hour), Knokke (15 minutes), Kortrijk (40 minutes), Ostend (15 minutes) and Zeebrugge (10 minutes). To get to Ypres (two hours), take the train to Kortrijk and change trains for the hourly connection to Ypres.
There are a few connections by ferry to/from nearby Zeebrugge:
Bruges is a small city with few places to park your car in the centre. Better to leave the car at the train station for just €2.50 a day or €0.50 an hour, including bus tickets to the centre!
De Lijn provides some bus connections in and around the city.
Bruges is small enough to negotiate on foot.
|Andre's Bed & Breakfast||Velodroomstraat 126 St-Michiels||guesthouse||87|
|Bed and Breakfast Ter Brugge||Stationsstraat 119 8490 JABBEKE Bruges||Guesthouse||-|
|Charlie Rockets||Hoogstraat 19 West-Vlaanderen||hostel||77|
|Guestroom Aquarius||Witte Beerstraat 31||Guesthouse||86|
|Het Colettientje||Colettijnenhof 3||Guesthouse||89|
|Het Wit Beertje||Witte Beerstraat 4||Guesthouse||87|
|HI Europa Brugge||Baron Ruzettelaan 143||Hostel||81|
|Hotel De Castillion||Heilige Geesttraat 1||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Flats Leopold||Hoogste van Brugge Nº 2||hotel||84|
|Hotel Gasthof Groenhove||Gulden Peerdenstraat 30||hotel||85|
|Hotel Gulden Vlies||Kon. Elisabethlaan 40||hotel||86|
|Hotel Het Gheestelic Hof||Heilige Geeststraat 2 8000 Brugge||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Notre Dame||Mariastraat 3||hotel||83|
|Lybeers Travellers' Hostel||Korte Vuldersstraat 31||hostel||82|
|Passage Hotel and Hostel Bruges||Dweersstraaat 26||hostel||82|
|Snuffel Backpacker Hostel||Ezelstraat 47-49, Brugge, Flanders B-8000||hostel||80|
|St Christopher's Inn-Bauhaus Budget Hotel||Langestraat 133-137||hotel||82|
|St Christopher's Inn-Bauhaus Hostel||Langestraat 133-137||hostel||81|
|Belgium Bed and Breakfast Woodside B&B Bruges||Mosselstraat 26 TORHOUT Bruges||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel Bryghia||Oosterlingenplein 4||Hotel||83|
|Hotel Europ||Augustijnenrei 18||Hotel||-|
|Hotel t'Zand||'t Zand 21||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Egmond||Minnewater 15||Hotel||-|
|Hotel De Goezeput||Goezeputstraat 29||Hotel||-|
|Jacobs Hotel Brugge||Baliestraat 1||Hotel||84|
|Inn Bruges Bed & Breakfast||'s Gravenhof 10||GUESTHOUSE||85|
|B&B Fort Lapin||Fort Lapin 25||GUESTHOUSE||85|
|Hotel Olympia||Magdalenastraat 16||Hotel||-|
|B&B Verpoest||Zandstraat 28||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hoeve Westdijk B&B||Westdijk 17 Oostkamp||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Pickery Guesthouse||Werfstraat 103||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Maison Printaniere B&B||Kapelweg 7||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel Jose||Vissersstraat 16 Blankenberge||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Malleberg||Hoogstraat 7||HOTEL||-|
|Riche Terre||Bruggesteenweg 38 Sijsele||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel Bruges Inn Center||Dweerstraat 28 B||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Asiris||Lange Raamstraat 9||HOTEL||-|
|Best Western Hotel Orchidee||Aard 1 Aalter||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Cavalier||Kuipersstraat 25||HOTEL||-|
|Villa des Raisins||Torhoutse Steenweg 22||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel Académie||Wijngaardstraat 7||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Van Eyck||Korte Zilverstraat 7||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel De Castillion||Heilige Geesttraat 1||HOTEL||-|
Internet is widely available in Belgium, but internet cafés are not common, because most people have internet access at home or through wifi. There are multiple internet access points in all cities and it is free in most libraries. Also in multiple gas stations, train stations and diners on the highways there is Wi-Fi available. Many cafés offer free Wi-Fi nowadays and if you can't find any you can always fall back on Quick or McDonalds which both offer free Wi-Fi.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to Belgium is: + 32. To make an international call from Belgium, the code is 00.
Belgium has a modern telephone system with nationwide cellular telephone coverage. Belgium uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are three main companies (Proximus, Mobistar and Base, and a large number of MVNOs) offering wireless service. The country is almost totally covered. If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 MHz bands. Then incoming calls and SMSes are free. You can get sim cards for the three main companies in dedicated phone shops. Sim cards from the MVNOs are readily available at supermarkets (Carrefour, Aldi, Colruyt to name a few all have their own brand). All networks provide UMTS and HSDPA (3G) mobile internet coverage, and are rolling out a 4G network, mainly in the big cities and eventually in the whole country.
De Post is the national postal service of Belgium, with Dutch, French and German versions. They offer generally fast, reliable services. It's a relatively expensive service though, with normal domestic post (cards, letters etc) up to 50 grams costing €0.61. To other European countries it costs €1.03 and outside Europe it's €1.34. At the post offices, you can buy stamps and they have other services as well, including international money transfers. The opening times of post offices are 9:00am or 10:00am until 4:00pm or 5:00pm, depending on whether it's the main central one or a smaller branch or in towns. Some of them might be open on Saturday mornings, and remember that quite a few still close for lunch break! De Post also offers the sending of parcels, but you could also use private international companies like UPS, TNT or DHL, as they offer roughly the same services and prices, but are generally faster.
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