City of arts and crafts
Country Life UK|February 19, 2020
Bruges, Belgium

AS the medieval trading capital of Flanders and the home of the world’s first stock exchange, Bruges was a leading centre of the finest craftsmanship, Arts and luxury goods by the 15th century—the golden age of the Dukes of Burgundy, whose court was the most fashionable in Europe. Anybody interested in the cultural and religious world of the early Flemish Masters should come to this restored Gothic city and wander the network of waterways that connected it to the sea, explore the cobbled streets of the mercantile Hansa quarter, listen to the carillion of 47 bells ringing out from the belfry towering over the cloth hall and marvel at the inventiveness of the step-gabled facades.

William Caxton, an English merchant in Bruges, published the first book printed in English here in 1473 and the city gave refuge to two exiled English kings, Edward IV and Charles II (who raised the first troop of the Life Guards in Bruges in 1658). Today, the city is a magnet for tourists, but there’s still much evidence of its medieval glory.

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