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Brugse Vrije

The Beguinage was recognised as a World Heritage site in 1998. One year later, the Belfry was also added to the World Heritage list, followed by the entire historical city centre in 2000. After all, Bruges boasts a valuable structural heritage and is a fine example of an architecturally homogeneous city, particularly famous for its brick Gothic buildings. What’s more, the authentic and organically grown medieval city fabric has remained well preserved, while Bruges is also the ‘birthplace’ of the Flemish primitives. Reasons enough for UNESCO to grant Bruges the label of ‘World Heritage City’, something the city and its people are rightly proud of.

Intangible heritage

But the city’s intangible heritage is also greatly valued. Since as far back as 1304, the relic of the Holy Blood has been carried around the city in the Holy Blood Procession on Ascension Day each year. This folk tradition involves everyone in the city and was recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009. In November 2014, Belgian carilloneurs were also given significant international recognition when Belgian carilloneur culture - and all the people committed to it - was recognised as best practice in order to safeguard it as Intangible Cultural Heritage. The sound of the carillons can be heard all around Bruges throughout the year, but one of the best places to listen is on the Market Square or in the Belfry courtyard.

Brugs Beertje
Jan Dhondt

In 2016, Belgium’s diverse beer culture was added to the Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The historic city of Bruges boasts two breweries and a beer museum, and Bruges’ woodlands and wetlands is home to many traditional brewers who are passionate about their craft. There are also many cafes, bars and restaurants in Bruges where you can appreciate beer culture.

The role of mediaeval international trade should certainly not be forgotten either, according to UNESCO. Several European records relating to the Hanseatic League (a mediaeval trade network) have been entered into the 'Memory of the World' register since 2023. Also recognised are 26 records from the Bruges City Archives dealing with the relationship between the city government and the Hanseatic merchants during the 15th century.