Chocolate shops abound in Brugge (Bruges in English). In something of the fashion of chocolates in a box, they fill the ancient streets. I am dumbfounded. How do they all make a living? There are, of course, many repetitions of flavour but most have a few specialties.
Belgium is also home of the waffle and possibly the chip (a bit like icecream, its origin is hard to pin down).
The Brugge belfry is part of a halls building which was used in the middle ages for storing and displaying Flemish cloth and other goods. The bottom two square layers were built in the thirteenth century whilst the top, octagonal lantern tower was added from 1482-86.
Belfries are typically found in Flanders, Northern France and Wallonia (southern Belgium).
With a concentration of 2.915 per 1000 square kilometres Belgium has the second highest density of carillons in the world after the Netherlands (4.383).
The carillon in Brugge consists of 47 bells with a combined weight of 27.5 tonnes. Needless to say, a carillon is the largest extant musical instrument.
Make sure you arrive early for a tower visit as, when we were there, the cashiers closed admittance fifteen minutes before the advertised time. There can be a bit of a wait as there is a maximum number of visitors allowed up at one time.
These splendid wrought iron doors had no less than ten padlocks (with keys held by ten people in authority) when they were in use from the late thirteenth century. What treasures lay within the padlocked chests they protected? Gold? Jewels? Chocolate recipes? No, city charters and other documents. Any opening was quite an event.
I find these plaques very soulful. It is a way of claiming and naming a building, of addressing the essence, if you will. And, in doing so, beauty and art are an integral part of function. This building, unsurprisingly, is beside a river. A small arched footbridge crosses to the entrance on the left.
Upon entering this small and lovely park, it takes a moment or two to realize these beautifully executed horse statues are actually quite threatening.
From the roadworkers and from me: “…that’s it. Have a good trip and thank you for your understanding.”