Bruges started as a fortress built upon the order of Charles the Bald of France by his son-in-law Baldwin, count of Flanders, at the top of the “Zwin”-estuary where some coastal rivers were reaching the sea. This to counter the Vikings who were using the spot as their “brygghia” or “landing-stage” to plunder the hinterland. Centrally situated, accesible by land and sea, Bruges soon became the leading trading place of Europe.
After the 14th century though, things changed. Still, in the 15th century, Bruges witnessed the splendour of the court of the Dukes of Burgundy. It was the age of the “Flemish Primitives” with amongst others, Jan Van Eyck, Hugo Van Der Goes, Hans Memling and Gerard David. The accidental death of Mary of Burgundy cast a death-spell over the city.
Slowed down by two world-wars, the revival of the “sleeping beauty” came with the 20th century. Now the future is bright for this old historical city.