In Bruges – Canals, Chocolate & Churches

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Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country.

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The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is egg-shaped and about 430 hectares in size. The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge (meaning “Brugge aan Zee” or “Bruges on Sea”). The city’s total population is 117,073 (1 January 2008), of which around 20,000 live in the historic centre. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km² and has a total of 255,844 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008.

 

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Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, it is sometimes referred to as “The Venice of the North”.

 

Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact. The historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

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Many of its medieval buildings are notable, including the Church of Our Lady, whose brick spire reaches 122.3 m (401.25 ft), making it one of the world’s highest brick towers/buildings. The sculpture Madonna and Child, which can be seen in the transept, is believed to be Michelangelo’s only sculpture to have left Italy within his lifetime.

Bruges’ most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry, housing a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells. The city still employs a full-time carillonneur, who gives free concerts on a regular basis.

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Belgium’s association with chocolate goes back as far as 1635 when the country was under Spanish occupation. By the mid 18th century, chocolate was extremely popular in upper and middle class circles, particularly in the form of hot chocolate. Among them was Charles-Alexander of Lorraine, the Austrian governor of the territory. From the early 20th century, the country was able to import large quantities of cocoa from its African colony, the Belgian Congo. Both the chocolate bar and praline are inventions of the Belgian chocolate industry.
The composition of Belgian chocolate has been regulated by law since 1884. In order to prevent adulteration of the chocolate with low-quality fats from other sources, a minimum level of 35% pure cocoa was imposed. Adherence to traditional manufacturing techniques also serves to increase the quality of Belgian chocolate. In particular, vegetable-based fats are not used. Many firms produce chocolates by hand, which is laborious and explains the prevalence of small, independent chocolate outlets, which are popular with tourists. Famous chocolate companies, like Neuhaus and Guylian, strictly follow traditional (and sometimes secret) recipes for their products.
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These four modern sculptures of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse can be found in a small park just close to the Gruuthuse Museum and the Bonifatius Bridge in Brugge, Belgium.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, called the Book of Revelation of Saint John the Evangelist at 6:1-8. The chapter tells of a scroll in God’s right hand that is sealed with seven seals. Jesus Christ opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons forth the four beasts that ride on white, red, black, and pale horses which each symbolize Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, respectively.

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The Markt (“Market Square”) of Bruges is located in the heart of the city and covers an area of about 1 hectare. Some historical highlights around the square include the 12th-century belfry and the Provincial Court (originally the Waterhall, which in 1787 was demolished and replaced by a classicist building that from 1850 served as provincial court and after a fire in 1878 was rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style in 1887. In the center of the market stands the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck.

In 1995 the market was completely renovated. Parking in the square was removed and the area became mostly traffic-free, thus being more celebration friendly. The renovated market was reopened in 1996 with a concert by Helmut Lotti.
Around the Markt are numerous restaurants, cafes and bars where you can sit and take in the sights of the many historic medieval buildings and sample some of the Belgian food and beer.

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Passionate Photographer …. Lost in Asia

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Stuart can be available for a variety individual assignments or projects and he specialises in areas such as photojournalism, commercial, architectural, real estate, industrial, interior design, corporate, urbex, adventure, wilderness and travel photography. Stuart can also offer some innovative and advanced techniques such as HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Panoramic Photography.

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