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3 Great Things to See in Flanders

Aug, 06 || No Comments | Tags: , , , ,

According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the most visited country in Europe is France. It’s no surprise, given the fact that this country is where Paris is, the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur), the Burgundy wine region, etc. What’s surprising is that Belgium is not even on the list of 10 most visited European countries!

Belgium, especially its northern part, is a tourist treasure hidden in the very heart of Europe. The region called Flanders is the land of art, history, and beer. If you’re planning to visit Flanders, here are 3 things that will make you fall in love with this region.

Historic Center of Bruges

The fact that Bruges is a UNESCO world heritage city seems as enough of recommendation for everyone to visit it. On top of that, the capital of Flanders was crowned the Best Citytrip in Belgium. If you’re still not convinced that Bruges deserves a visit, here are a couple of facts that will change your mind.

First of all, most of the buildings in the historic center date back to the Middle Ages, which was the golden era of the city. In fact, Bruges‘ historic center might be the best-preserved example of medieval architecture in the world. The most famous structure from this period is the Belfry of Bruges, towering more than 80 meters above the ground. Speaking of tall buildings, we mustn’t forget to mention the Church of Our Lady, which is one of the tallest brick structures on the planet.

It’s not all about the buildings when it comes to Bruges. This city is also famous for a number of traditional festivals, most notably the Procession of the Holy Blood, which involves more than three thousand people. The procession has been taking place on the Ascension Day every year, for almost a whole millennium. It’s about carrying the Relic with the blood of Christ, which was given to the city by Thierry of Alsace upon returning from the Second Crusade.

WWI Memorials

The whole of Flanders was a huge battlefield during the World War One. This is the area where some of the fiercest battles of the Western Front happened. More than 17 million soldiers died in this war, and many of them saw their final moments in the trenches of Flanders. That is why it’s not a surprise that many cemeteries and war memorials lay in the area, especially near the cities of Nieuwpoort and Diksmuide. In fact, the latter one is where the Dodengang, the Trench of Death is located.

Today, Dodengang is a WWI memorial, but in October 1914 it was the scenery of one of the greatest battles in Belgian history, the Battle of the Yser. Belgian army of 50 thousand men managed to halt German invasion, something for which more than 3,500 people needed to give their lives. Many of them died inside the bunkers of Dodengang.

Apart from Dodengang, the tourists can pay their respects to the victims of war at many other sights of Flanders, including the Hooge Crater Museum, the Yser Memorial, the Nieuwpoort Memorial to the Missing, the Ijzertoren (Yser Tower), etc.

Ghent City Center

Same as Bruges, Ghent is a reminder of the glorious past of the Flanders. The city center is full of medieval structures, such as the Belfry, Saint-Nicholas Church, and Saint Bavo Cathedral. You can enjoy the view of the city from the Saint Michael’s bridge. Speaking of great views, you must not miss the opportunity to visit Gravensteen, a 12th-century castle, located in the Ghent city center. Apart from the city’s panorama, this castle has another awesome thing to offer – a torture museum, with a real guillotine.

Another reason why people love visiting this city is great night life. There are many cool restaurants around the city, not to mention lots of pubs where you can taste traditional Belgian beer. In fact, if you are a beer-fan, your destination should be the historic port of Graslei and Korenlei, which is the home to dozens of traditional bars.

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