OUR GUIDED TOURS IN BRUGES
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BRUGES: "THE VENICE OF THE NORTH"
The existence of Bruges is linked to sand. Thousands of years ago the North Sea coast did not have the same configuration as it does today.
In the past the tide burst destroying the fragile barrier of dunes that protected water invasion to the land.
Tribes that lived there had barely been Christianized and Cesare had not been bothered to civilize. In one of those natural dams (brigghia) a population of free peasants built a fortress to defend themselves against the incursions of the Normans.
A mercenary named Baldwin Iron Arm kidnap the daughter of the king of France, Charles the Bald, grandson of Charlemagne to get the dowry of the land uncultivated. Flanders would join the possessions of the King of France.
In the eleventh century, a wall was built, and in the 12th century a storm created a natural channel to the North Sea.
The growing wool industry would make from Bruges a prosperous city. The city belonged to the Hanseatic League, a federation of the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia.
In the late thirteenth and beginning of the fourteenth century the city experienced a difficult period with the French, the famous Bruges’ Matins by Joan and Peter de Coninck Breydel, make allusion to the custom of killing everyone who would speak with a French accent. The Battle of the Golden Spurs would give fame to Flanders and legends of battle would be written.
In 1369 a marriage would be crucial for the city. The marriage of Countess Margaret de Male of Flanders and heir of the Duchy of Burgundy Philippe le Hardi. The city knew with the Dukes of Burgundy its golden age, but also its decline. The Zwin natural channel was filled with sand.
In the city the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good established his court in Prinsenhof (now reputed hotel), in 1429 his marriage to Isabella of Portugal, is celebrated with great splendor and the Duke would create the famous Order of the Golden Fleece.
After the death of Mary of Burgundy the city would be left to Maximilian of Austria. His chief adviser Pieter Lanchals (long neck in english) was beheaded under the gaze of the Duke by bruges people. Today the swans remember him.
Meanwhile, the Zwin, lifeblood of the economy, disappears leaving Brugge without landlocked.
In the last three centuries Bruges stays away, all traders abandon it, and its inhabitants live periods of authentic famine. Bruges waited patiently for a channel to give access to the sea as a solution. King Leopold the II fulfilled that dream and the channel ‘Blankenberghe’ was inaugurated in 1907.
It was nevertheless destroyed during the First World War.
We thank Bruges’ revival to its own past glory! In the second half of the 19th century, English writers and artists visited the mainland and fell in love with it.
Bruges represented the answer to their quest for medieval times. The British remained in the city buying and restoring houses, changing its architecture by recycling and reusing bricks. Bruges is reborn then.
In 1949, recognizing its legacy, the city of Bruges is chosen to join the elite of the European Union.