East Bruges

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Home Page > Travelogues > Belgium > Bruges > East Bruges

Other Chapters in the Bruges section:  Center Market and Burg ] Minnewater and South ] [ East Bruges ]

East Bruges 

This final chapter on Bruges covers parts of the city less traveled by tourists.  In fact, parts of it seemed rather abandoned, perhaps left out of the city's revitalization in preparation for the tourist industry.  While it includes several very busy blocks just east and south of the Burg and the well-traveled Bonne Chiere region at the eastern wall, the area in-between is loaded with history but not so many visitors.  In fact, among the suggested walking tours included in the Bruges home page (referenced at bottom of page), this region was not even included.  So, I added this chapter to hopefully arouse your curiosity.

This chapter begins in the southern end, not too far away from the Burg.  The first photograph shows the Gruuthusemuseum, the brownish building at left.  This was originally a manor but now an art museum.  It was located just north of the Walplein and led me back toward the Burg, but I would move eastward toward the canals. 

The second photograph was one of my favorite canal shots.  I believe it was from an interesection of the canals facing the Guildhouse of the Tanners.  Numerous tour boats passed from the left of the photograph across my front along the edge of the canal then following the structures along the right wall.  One of those tour boats is just entering from the right of the photograph.  The white building in the center, which appeared to be a hotel, was one of the few buildings that seemed almost out of place compared to the scene.

There were a number of monuments I passed as I circled to the north.  There was the Bruges City Theater, very simple in comparison to theaters in other cities.  It was made of red brick, and was small and square with gray columns.  Next was Vaneyckplein, a a square at the end with a statue of Van Eyck in the center.  Nearby was the Old Customs House and Sint Annarei Church.  This brought me to a residential zone along one of the wider canals with full roads on both sides.  It reminded me a lot of the canals in Amsterdam that were bounded by narrow cobblestone roads available for car traffic, but only a compact could traverse it reliably.  The side streets were very narrow, almost like a maze with old-time establishments scattered about.  One that I took a picture of was a place called the Cafe Vlissinghe, a simple old house converted into a cafe.

I reached Carmerstraat and headed east.  Immediately, the character of the city changed from its renovated and fresh character to purely 'old'.  Despite the thousands decended on the town, there was literally no one with me on the road although the street was loaded with parked cars.  The buildings were umkempt and the bricks were very faded.  A particularly intriguing structure was the old English convent, a massive round structure that at the time was badly in need of a facelift.  That may have changed since 2002, which I would hope as it looked like it was originally a gorgeous building.  But as I neared the eastern wall, the scenery regained its beauty as grassy areas appeared and the bricks were back to their original red color.  At the end of Carmerstraat was the scene in the third photograph, that of the Saint Sebastian Archers' Guild.  This guild house now serves as a museum of royal art.  The surrounding buildings looked like upper-scale residences or restaurants and establishments that catered to the tourist scene.

The eastern wall was one of the most beautiful parts of Bruges, although there wasn't any wall left.  As the fourth photograph showed, this was a wide open grassy park bounded by a main road and the exterior canal that served as the city's moat.  Scattered along the eastern wall was a series of windmills built on earthen mounts, separated at two or three hundred-meter intervals.  The windmills were not in service when I was there, although I doubted they were serviceable -- I believed they were strictly decorative.  They were also clearly recently rebuilt.  I followed the walking path to the south for a stretch, then moved back westward.

This area was very residential and again a different character.  For the first time, I saw long stretches of tiny single-family residences painted white.  And I meant tiny, probably just a couple hundred square meters apiece, but they were occupied and the residents were out and about conducting their routine.  There were other streets that maintained renovated and modernized row houses painted bright white, although I don't think they were enlarged.  I wondered how much houses there would go for.

There were a few small monuments and points of interest in the area.  The fifth photograph shows the Jerusalem Kerk, a tiny brick church in the middle of this residential district.  Indications were that it was still in use.  Next to it, off the right of the photo, was a string of buildings that appeared to be an old monastery or something like that, although I saw no specific reference to it in the Bruges tourist information.  Only a block away was an old Orthodox Church, also very small and nestled within a residential neighborhood.  From there, I returned to the canals and back to the Center Market.

Getting off the beaten path was always a goal of mine whenever I had plenty of time to visit someplace in depth.  I enjoyed this part of my journey because it gave me a truer glimpse of some of Bruges' history, and to get away from the tourists for a while.  It also showed me that it wasn't only the touristy areas of Bruges that were kept clean, all of the city was clean ... and worth checking out.

Other Chapters in the Bruges section:  Center Market and Burg ] Minnewater and South ] [ East Bruges ]

Trip Taken 16-17 March 2002 -- Last Updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2002, 2006 Tom Galvin.  The Bruges City Homepage used for fact checking in 2006.  


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