Canals/Bridges ., Brugge
Maybe I'm going to be a little bit nasty when I'm asking how would have Brugge been like without its canals? Well .. maybe you can picture it, but I can't .. it would have been just like other normal little town with great architecture.
What I do want to say is that the canals adds and multiplies to the city beauty. They offer - beside the view - opportunity of boat tours, and a place for swans, ducks and other water animals. Yes, canals are one of my fondest memories of Brugge :)
There was a time when the Romans started the invasion of Gallia. An old sailor said goodbye to the sea when he got old. He had a single child, a daughter, and a very beautiful daughter.
Bruges then was a small village surrounded by woods and wetland. Because he was old he thought it would be best to search for a good husband for his daughter.
His choice was soon made: Horneck, a young guy who often came to visit.
But how does it go in love? Aaah our beautiful girl has fallen in love with
Stromberg, a young warrior from a neighbouring tribe. She never told her father
because she knew he had not much sympathy for these neighbours.
Her father kept insisting and she kept postponing.
When the Romans finally marched into the country, the warrior of all tribes set
of to fight them and stop them. Stromberg was one of the many warriors, but before he left to the battlefield, he promised Minna his everlasting love.
For a while Minna still could convince her dear father that a marriage was not
really suitable for her but he finally lost his patience. He was getting old and
wanted to be assured of her future.
He decided that when the sun would rise for the 3rd time, he would give her away
to his favorite Horneck.
Minna was really desperate. She was torn between the love for and her promise to
Stromberg and the will of her father.
Before the sun set on the 3rd day, she run away during the night, into the woods
she ran, not to return again.
Some time later, when the acute danger of the Romans was gone, Stromberg
returned. Soon he found out about he disappearance of Minna and he started a
difficult and hard search.
At last, after many fearful hours he found his lover but she was total exhausted
from the lack of food and endurance. She just survived to die now in his arms.
First thought of Stromberg was to take his own life as well but then he made up
He decided that he wanted to be remembered the place where his true love Minna
has died. He would cherish and honour this place as long as he lived.
He built a cabin and then a dam in the middle of the stream to block the water
getting in. Then in the dry bed (?) of the river he digged a grave for his lost
love. Then he removed the dam to let the water run in free.
At the shore he found a huge rock and he incurved in remembrance of Minna
It is said by the legend that much time later in history, this exact place is
the location where the present tower has been built.
In the first chapter of Bruges-la-Morte we learn that the widower Hugues Viane lives on the Quai du Rosaire, which in Dutch is the Rozenhoedkaai and in English the Quay of the Rosary.
The author doesn’t say which house it was, but since there are only seven houses on the Rozenhoedkaai it must have been one of those in the photos.
In the nineteenth century this must have been a bleak and deserted place, enlivened only by the occasional religious festival.
In the twenty-first century this short street is said to be the most-photographed place in Brugge. It has two souvenir shops, a dreadful touristy restaurant, a café and a landing for tourist boats.
Also there are lots of lively people riding around on bicycles (third photo), so this would no longer be the ideal place to settle in for a life of eternal grief and mourning.
Location of Rozenhoedkaai on Google Maps.
Chapter Two: Quai Vert = Groenerei
However, from the 19th century, it appeared far more alluring for tourist to call the Minnewater "the lake of love". It is indeed a very romantic setting.
The other side of Minnewateris dominated by the Poertoren, or Powder Tower.
This city you have to discover by feet.
Behind the Gruuthuuse Museum and the little square with the statues of the knights of the apocalypse, you have the most romantic bridge of Bruges.
This pictures is taken from that bridge.
Be warned: on busy days it is queueing here!
Still in the second chapter of Bruges-la-Morte, Hugues Viane continues his solitary walk and comes to the Quai du Miroir, which in Dutch is called the Spiegelrei and in English would be the bank or canal of the mirror.
Nowadays the street signs are only in Dutch, which is the only official language in Flanders.
The Spiegelrei is the street on the right side of the canal, and the Spinolarei is the one on the left.
On the Spiegelrei there are some very old buildings (which look their age), for instance the one in the second and third photos, which was built either in 1494 or 1595 or 1797, depending on how you decipher the numbers on the wall.
Location of Spiegelrei on OpenStreetMap
Chapter Two: Church of Our Lady
The second chapter of Bruges-la-Morte describes Hugues Viane’s solitary evening walks, starting from his house on the Quai du Rosaire and proceeding from there to the nearby Quai Vert, which in Dutch is the Groenerei and in English the Green Bank or Green Canal.
This is a part of Brugge which still has its medieval buildings largely intact, so it is still a beautiful place for walking or cycling. Also there are lots of swans on the canal, which contribute to the mournful or at least picturesque atmosphere.
Location of the Groenerei on OpenStreetMap
Chapter 2: Quai du Miroir = Spiegelrei
Make a long lazy walking tour from the Grote Markt via the Dijver to the Minnewater. This walk will take you along the most prominent sights and give you a good overview of all the beautiful things Brugge has on offer.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory is of wandering around Brugge on a cold and bright February morning (this pic was made in the fall, however!). There was still some snow left and hardly anyone was in the streets. I felt as if I was walking 700 years back in time, expecting to see knights or princesses coming around every corner. Around noon, the city came to life more, and the spell was broken, but the experience was magical!
was trying to take a picture of a bridge, the one that allows to cross the canal from OLV-Gruuthuse to Arentpark. This one is the very one located near the OLV cathedral and the Gruuthuse. Nothing special except from the fact that I couldn't snap a picture of it "naked". There was always someone walking on it... ah! That's Brugge !
In a moment of despair, I looked a round and found something nice to have on a picture: the wooden houses along the water & the gablestone of a house just across the bridge. I had to have noticed the wooden houses, for sure but the gablestone, not sure...
Ah! and not to forget, the smallest window ever ! In the past, whenever I mentioned to my entourage that I was going to Brugge, there sure had to be someone who would remark that "you're going to see the smallest window in the world, then.". Indeed, I was going to see the smallest window in the world.
Fondest memory: Indeed, who says canals says bridges but there are also
*the picturesque wooden houses.
Ah! wooden houses.. fascinating but recent history in Madagascar reminds me how fragile this material is. To be short, criminals set fire to one of our most important buildings (if not THE MOST!) in history. That wooden palace and other buildings in the royal complex in Tana were totally destroyed. Of the palace -the main building-, only the stone facade stood. At its construction era, the then Queen was advised by English architects and technicians to build the palace in stone, "in case of fire". In vain. One of reasons the Malagasy houses used to be in wood was that, by tradition, only tombs could be built with stone.
That's one reason why seeing a wooden house in this style from the Middle Ages just leaves me in awe.
*the gablestones although Mechelen has more of them than Brugge does.
Favorite thing: Minnewater is a charming and romantic spot. It is widely referred to as the "The Lake of Love", "Liebessee", "Lac d'Amour" etc Which I was told is an incorrect, but more interesting translation for the tourists.
at feet or on a bicycle... don't just stay in the busy centre but go discover the adjuncted streets! They are so quiet but nevertheless very pituresque!
Fondest memory: escaping the touristic centre and find an oasis of rest a few streets away.
The gingerbread/candy-looking houses are unique in the world. The city is like from a fairy tale.
The canals - like a mini-Venice.
Very good athmosphere.
Fondest memory: The athmosphere, the nice people, the Belgian HUGE variety of different (good) beers, the town that is so beautiful that it made me feel like I was in the middle of a fairy tale. The colouring and shapes of the old houses. The size of the city (not too big).
Some people call Brugge the Venice of the North, because of its many charming canals - however, in my opinion, it should be called differently... maybe the Stockholm or Copenhagen of the south. Why, you ask? Because, unlike venice, it's inland (and not an island) - but especially because it seems that the name comes from a scandinavian word: 'Bryggia', which more or less means 'mooring place'.
Fondest memory: Taking the very touristy canal tour... it's a real tourist trap - but a charming one. Seeing the town from the water really gives you a different perspective
As I said before everything is beautiful in Brugge, even the little details, like the Blinde Ezeltraat, near the TownHall in the 'Burgplein', the Burg Square. In the Justice Palace (Het Gerechtshof) visit the wonderful rooms... finally, it's possinle to visit Brugge by boat, throught its canals (When I was there the water was frozen so I must return!).