Poetry and letters in the streets of Bruges

Poetry and letters are integrated in Bruges literary culture. Graffiti on the wall may be a premonition of failure or disaster but the writings on the walls of Bruges’ streets contribute a warm feeling and convey information to passers-by. Besides the intriguing architecture of ages gone, you’ll notice symbols, writings or poetry written, painted or sculpted on buildings and walls throughout the city.

Bruges does not run out of inspiration to light up its literature. In 2002, poet, novelist and theatre maker Peter Verhelst graced the backs of all the seats in the Concertgebouw with a thematic poem called ‘Op Een Dag’ (‘One Day’).  It is now part of the permanent collection, but most visitors only read it in part, when they occupy a certain seat during one of the many concerts or performances.

Also in 2002, a poem by Bruges’ poet Jan van der Hoeven (‘De Ontmoeting’ / ‘The Encounter’) was painted on the vaulted ceiling of the 16th century city halls by five reputed calligraphers, including Brody Neuenschwander, who lives in Bruges. It was part of the open air exhibition ‘Een Stad Vol Letters’ (‘A City Full Of Letters’) and can still be seen nowadays in Oude Burg.

Groeninge  may be famous for its museum, but walking through the eponymous street, you will notice a wall with writings imprinted in glass from different poets and writers.


Hidden along the ramparts (next to Katelijnepoort) you’ll find one of the most beautiful questions by visual artist Robbert Ritmeester. It’s an ode to the famous Flemish poet Guido Gezelle (1830 – 1899) as part of the Gezelle-year in Bruges in 1999. It was recently repainted and still is an ideal place for a romantic photoshoot:
“Als je weggaat kom je dan weer terug?”
“Als ik terugkom ben je er dan?” (“If you leave will you come back?” “If I come back will you be there?”)

The beautiful streets also have a rich supply of bookshops, publishers, illustrators and the amazing artwork made by talented crafts(wo)men of Bruges. The ‘Handmade in Brugge’-label reinforces and supports craftmanship with an emphasis on innovation and creativity. They come in different shapes and design in this city thanks to the experienced masters of literal material ranging from creating their own paper, letter sculpting, calligraphy to digital letter design. You can find them on

All this poetry, letter expertise, a busy calendar of literary events and a vibrant community of readers and writers make Bruges a must-visit for people with a great passion for literature.