Lying just next to the Central Square (Grote Markt) of Bruges, the Burg Square is not only another important meeting point of the locals and expatriates in the city, but also the centre of various historical monuments. If you are keen to know the history of Bruges, take the free walking tour named ‘Can You Handle It’ to get a thorough main picture of the most important buildings in Burg Square through time.
The massive City Hall
As soon as you enter the Burg Square from the direction of Bruges’ Main Square (Grote Markt), a massive medieval building standing in the middle of the City Hall, and the Basilica of the Holy Blood will catch your eyes. Originally built in 1376, the City Hall building is still used for administration paperwork, with offices on the top floor. There’s a museum with a free multimedia exhibition on the first floor. Come upstairs to take a look at the impressive Gothic Hall - an absolute masterpiece, with many century murals, a polychrome vault, authentic documents, and other various works of art.
City Hall through time
In 1946, a major fire started in the City Hall, spreading from the Registry Department to the rooms upstairs. The rebuilding started in 1950, with the walls being decorated in 1980 with mural paintings salvaged from a mansion on the Garenmarkt. In 1972, the French Revolution did not leave Bruges unscathed. On the 13th of December (1972), all statues, coats of arms, and other symbols of the Old Regime were removed from the Town Hall, and locked up in St. Basil’s Chapel.
The golden Palace of Justice
Standing next to the City Hall is the Palace of Justice, the outer part, in fact, is painted with real gold. Nowadays, the palace’s space is used for a couple of offices,and a museum. Here you can find the largest fireplace in Europe. The ticket price to the City Hall is 3 EUR/3.50 USD for youngsters under 26, and 4 EUR/4.50 USD for adults, this also includes a free visit to the palace. The Town Hall and Palace of Justice is open everyday from 9.30AM to 5PM, except for national holidays.
Brugse Vrije Museum
Nowadays, a part of the Palace of Justice is used for the Brugse Vrije Museum. The liberty of Bruges, or the castellany of Bruges, was a territorial subdivision of the county of Flanders, with its own administrative, financial, and judicial powers.
In 1528, the Liberty of Bruges commissioned the Bruges artist Lancelot Blondeel to design the monumental fireplace in honor of Emperor Charles V. This is considered one of the most important Renaissance artworks in Bruges. To build the fireplace in wood, alabaster, and marble, the councillors relied on the skilful hands of the sculptor Guyot de Beaugrant.
The spiritual Basilica of the Holy Blood
Lying on one side of the City Hall, The Basilica of the Holy Blood is certainly the most famous church in Bruges, but not because of the famous movie, In Bruges, being shot outdoors here. During the making of In Bruges, film director Martin McDonagh was not allowed to film inside the Basilica. Thus he had to film the interiors of the Jerusalem Church for a certain scene.
The church is famous for the old holy blood that was claimed to be Jesus’s blood after his crusade. This is very important for the catholic community in Bruges, as the blood is taken out once a year for a big ceremony in May. National Geographic once did a DNA study on the blood a few years ago, and proved that the blood does date back to centuries ago when the crusades happened. However, the blood does not belong to Jesus, due to at least a one thousand year difference!
The Historic Centre of Bruges - A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Located in the Historic Centre of Bruges, the city’s public, social, and religious institutions illustrate important stages in Bruges’ history during the Medieval time. The history of the town is well presented in the urban and architectural structures that unify all periods of history since the origin of the city.
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.