The city’s Golden Age stretched from the 12th to the 15th centuries. Merchant ships from Genoa and Venice, Germany and England, Portugal and Russia cast anchor in its port, and local merchants sailed as far as Calcutta. The exquisite and fabulously expensive Bruges lace was coveted by the rich and noble across Europe. The fine cloth and garments made of English wool were of such high quality that they were exported all over the known world. People in the city lived in luxury, purchasing exotic goods to indulge their fancies from as far away as the Levant. Italian bankers set up branches here. Bruges became a commercial and financial hub of mediaeval Europe.
the Church of Our Lady
As the city flourished under the dukes of Burgundy, so did the arts. Painters and sculptors from all over Europe came to work in flocked to Bruges. The first printed book in English, Recuyell of the Historyes of Troy, was published in the city in 1475. Strolling around the historic centre, you can’t miss the Church of Our Lady, famous for its 122 m (400 ft) tower. Its foundations were laid in the 13th century, while the Portail du paradis (‘gates of paradise’), through which all funeral processions passed, date from 1450.
A half-hour excursion by motorboat on the canals of Bruges will help you discover the city from an entirely different perspective. The drivers are licensed guides who speak Flemish, French, English and German, and while you chug along the canals, they will tell you all about the sites on the tour, shouting to make themselves heard above the roar of the engine.
The Lake of Love