KMC Destination – Bruges, Medieval charm in modern Belgium

Ron and Maureen Cunningham
Contributing writers

***image1***A short three and a half hour drive from Ramstein is the beautiful city of Bruges, Belgium.

Once you are inside the walls of the old city, you will want to get an overview of some of the outstanding sites to see. One way to do this is a boat trip on the canals. The charm of this unspoiled medieval town comes alive as you view the fine buildings and bridges from the canal network. The city was occupied during both world wars yet escaped major damage.

There are several churches worth a visit. The Basilica of the Holy Blood holds one of the most sacred reliquaries in Europe. A veneration schedule is available in the Basilica museum. The Church of Our Lady has a marble statue, Madonna and Child, by Michelangelo. It is the only sculpture by the artist to leave Italy during his lifetime. The Jerusalem Church is a copy of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and contains a reconstruction of Christ’s tomb.
The Lace-Making Center is next to the church. Almost a lost art, there are still a good number of lace shops in town.

***image2***If you are up for a stroll, out the Dampoort Gate are four wind mills that sit on top of the city wall.The ‘Sint-Janshuis’ mill is open for tours daily except Monday.

For a quiet respite seek out the “Godshuis,” God’s houses. These white front homes surround a quiet garden. Built as a form of public housing in the Middle Ages, they still accommodate the old and poor.

As you close your day in this World Heritage Site city, take time to enjoy the unique food of Belgium. The seafood is renowned. If you enjoy fine beer, the brews of Belgium are famous – each served in its own unique glass.

To help you arrive at the outskirts of Bruges, you will need to get around Liege and Brussels with the least amount of delays and confusion. As you approach Liege on the A-27, you will need to pickup the A-3 to Brussels. This north bypass around the city is fairly well marked. As you get to the outer ring around Brussels, the challenge will be to get on the north bypass and find the A-10 (E-40) toward Bruges. It is not well marked but heading toward the airport signs will help keep you out of downtown Brussels. Once past Liege and Brussels, set your course for Bruges.

***image3***Coming off the A-10 (E-40) at the Bruges exit, head for the main railway station. Don’t try to drive into the walled city of Bruges without a good map. The railway station has parking for 1,500 autos and, most importantly, a tourist information booth. There is short-term parking if you just want to go inside and get the booklet and map of the city. With the booklet in hand you can use a cell phone to make your own reservations to stay inside the wall. There is listing for a full range of hotels and the map will show you how to drive to your hotel. The map has an English section with driving and parking rules in the city. If you are just in the city for the day, public transport from the railway parking area is available.