The Burg Square is the political center of Bruges. It is a lovely place where architecture lovers can enjoy the amazing mix of beautiful buildings and styles that tell us the long and amazing history of Bruges.
A few meters to the East side of the Grote Markt we will find the Burg Square, the cradle of the city of Bruges. “Burg” in Dutch means “fortress” and the square takes this name because just in this place, Baldwin Iron Arm, the first Count of Flanders, built a castle in the IX century to stop the Normand invasions. .
This square has become an architecture and art class, where we can see and enjoy some buildings that take us on a journey through more than 1000 years of history.
MIX OF STYLES
If we have to highlight something about the Burg Square, we would have to choose the mix and the diversity of architecture styles inside, nothing less than one thousand years of architectural history.
Unfortunately, the first constructions are no longer in the square. For instance, we don’t keep the castle ordered in the IX century by Baldwin Iron Arm, the first Count of Flanders. The purpose of this fortress was to stop the Normand invasions coming though the North Sea.
In the north side of the Burg Square we will see a tree-covered area. This current empty space was the place for the former cathedral of Bruges, Saint Donaas Cathedral, destroyed by the Napoleon armies in 1799. This former cathedral was built during the Carolingian period, shortly after the founding of the city, and when it was destroyed a lot of treasures disappeared with the building, such as the tomb of the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck, or the tomb of the Spanish philosopher Juan Luis Vives. We can see some remains of the crypt of the Cathedral inside the Crowne Plaza Brugge Hotel.
The best possible example of this mix of architectural styles is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, the building located in the southwest corner of the Burg Square. This building has two parts: on one hand we have the oldest building in Bruges, a lower chapel from the XII century on Romanesque style and dedicated to Saint Basil. On the other hand, the upper church is a Neo-gothic Basilica built during the XIX century, because the French troops destroyed a former one located in the same place. The church is named after the relic kept inside this upper part, the relic of the Holy Blood. The Holy Blood is believed to be drops of Jesus Christ’s blood taken and carried to Bruges by Joseph of Arimathea in 1150, when he came back from the Crusades. Once a year, the city holds a procession dedicated to the Holy Blood along the city center.
The second oldest building in the square is the city hall of Bruges, located just on the left of the Holy Blood Basilica. This building was built in Flamboyant Gothic style, between 1376 and 1426 and it is the oldest city hall in the country. The most remarkable points are the three façade towers and the large number of sculptures and shields covering the front of the city hall. The masterpiece inside is the Gothic Hall, richly decorated and with a polychrome wooden vault.
On the left of the city hall, we can see the Palace of Justice (Gerechtshof) built in the XVI century in Renaissance style. It was enlarged with the neoclassical building just next to it in the year 1727. Nowadays, the building hosts the museum Het Brugse Vrije, where you can find the city’s history and the masterpiece of the building, a magnificent black fireplace in Renaissance style decorated with wooden statues.
THE SQUARE NOWADAYS
Today, the Burg Square is the second busiest and most crowded square in the city, just after the Grote Markt. The square is a meeting point for local people and for tourist, who are normally looking around with their cameras looking overwhelmed by the mix of architecture and indecisive about the best place for their pictures. In any case, all the photos will be important and beautiful, just as all the buildings there.
The Burg Square in Bruges is not only an outdoors museum, but it is also one of the places where you can assist to concerts and summer activities allowing people to enjoy the short Belgian summer. And, as could not be otherwise, the Burg Square is the starting and the finishing point of the Holy Blood Procession, held in the Ascension Day. Because of its cultural and touristic interest, this Procession is, since 2007, a part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Anyway, in any time of the year you will enjoy people and tourist from everywhere around the world just walking around or sitting in a terrace, tasting the Belgian specialties.
Burg Square 8000, Bruges, Belgium.
HOW TO GET THERE
The easiest way to get to the Burg Square is following the way proposed by us along the other monuments in Bruges mentioned in this website. So, from the Groeninge Museum , we arrive to the Dijver Canal and then we will turn right, walking along the canal under the shade of the trees. We will continue for 300 meters until the canal turns left and then we will take the street in our left, as we were following the canal. We will be in a little square with a column in the middle and restaurants in one of the sides; this is Tanners’ Square. We will cross the square and we will see a bridge on the left. Cross that bridge and continue by the alley called BlindeEzelstraat. At the end of the alley you will be amazed by the view of the Burg Square.
- Fish market and Tanners’ Square (70 m).
- Grote Markt (100 m).
- Groeninge Museum (500 m).
- Saint Salvator’sCathedral (600 m).
- Church of Our Lady (700 m).
- Zand Square (850 m).