Bruges, I have concluded, is best seen in one day. The morning can be spent getting lost around the narrow streets (a very easy task); lunchtime can provide a respite accompanied by beer, while the afternoon is best spent visiting the churches, walking alongside the canals, or sampling the local taste trinity: waffles, chocolate and more beer.
I did all this and more, since I had 48 hours in Bruges.
To be fair, this is a pretty town. It is, however, quite lacking in serious cultural entertainment, unless your travel interest include the history of chocolate, fries and beer, as all these have dedicated museums. Much as I enjoy all those food items, however, my interest in them does not go beyond the tasting, so, I didn’t go to visit any of those museums.
I did go to see the churches, though, I simply had to. The Church of Our Lady, for one, is a must on any art lover’s itinerary, as it houses the only statue of Michelangelo in its intended location (i.e., not in a museum) outside of Italy. His Madonna is believed to have been meant for the Sienna Cathedral, but was insteaad bought by two merchants from Bruges and donated to the city in 1504.
The Bruges Cathedral, on the other hand, called St Salvator’s Church, is not home to world renowned treasures, but has the most impressive stained glass windows’ I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, both churches are currently undergoing extensive renovation, which dampens the experience a little.
Other than that, I spent the rest of my time walking the narrow streets and wandering alongside the canals.
I did like Bruges, overall, but I think its loving nickname, the Venice of the North, is a huge exaggeration! Bruges, to me, is a town to visit after you have run out of other beautiful European towns and cities to visit. As is, indeed, Belgium.
Go in for the beer, enjoy the waffles, buy handmade chocolate and take your photos, by all means. But don’t go to Bruges expecting anything like Venice, or you’ll be rather disappointed.