Historic Town of Brugge is a statement, over a long era, of a considerable exchange of influences on the development of architecture, particularly in brick Gothic, as well as favoring innovative artistic influences.
It 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.
Brugge has conserved spatial and structural organizations that characterize its different phases of development, and the historic centre has continued covering exactly the same area as the perimeter of the old settlement.
The Brugge fair was established in 1200 and contacts with Britain were the first to develop, particularly related to wool. The growing prosperity of the city was reflected in the construction of public buildings, such as the imposing belfry in the Grand’Place, and Brugge was quickly established as an economic capital of Europe.
Under Philippe le Bon (1419-67) Brugge became a centre of court life, as well as that of Flemish art, involving Jan van Eyck, who contributed to the development of the Flemish Primitive school of painting as well as exercising an influence on European art in general.
The most important of the squares are the Burg and the Grand’Place. For some 1,000 years the Burg square has remained the symbol of the alliance of religious and civic authorities, as well as the seat of several public institutions, including the dispensing of justice. The Grand’Place, on the other hand, is the site of the halls, the belfry and the Waterhalle, symbolizing municipal autonomy.
Bruges received its city charter on July 27, 1128, and new walls and canals were built. Since about 1050, gradual silting had caused the city to lose its direct access to the sea. A storm in 1134, however, re-established this access, through the creation of a natural channel at the Zwin.
Such wealth gave rise to social upheavals, which were for the most part harshly contained by the militia. In 1302, however, after the Bruges Matins (the nocturnal massacre of the French garrison in Bruges by the members of the local Flemish militia on 18 May 1302), the population joined forces with the Count of Flanders against the French, culminating in the victory at the Battle of the Golden Spurs, fought near Kortrijk on July 11.
The statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, the leaders of the uprising, can still be seen on the Big Market square. From the 13th century onwards, Brugge became an international trading center.
The produce of cloth and the role of Hansean wharehouse brought the city its wealth. The heydays resulted in the construction of numerous Gothic buildings and churches.
It is worth-visiting Brugge for everybody who wants to enjoy a medieval urban landscape. The historical center is so large that one can find picturesque places without crowds of tourists.
As one of the commercial and cultural capitals of Europe, Brugge developed cultural links to different parts of the world. In the center of Bruges, at the large Market Square, the enormous Belfry Tower and Cloth Hall dominates the scene.