The medieval heart of Bruges, the Market Square (Grote Markt) contains the Provincial Palace and Neo-Gothic
Ministry of Public Works, the 13th c. Bell Tower and Cloth Market, and is surrounded by restaurants and shops.

The Bruges display images have been created directly from the images that are available for purchase
(with a few exceptions), so the title bar text is smaller than title bars which are normally seen on this website.

Click an image to open a larger version.
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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Bruges Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 6 Galleries in the Photoshelter Bruges Collection (Direct Links):

Bruges: Burg Square
Market Square and Bell Tower
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw and Gruuthuse
Canal Scenes and Street Scenes
Bruges: Houses and Buildings
Statues and Sculptures


Breydel deConinck Market Square 2087
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Restaurants and Shops of Market Square (Grote Markt) and the Neogothic Ministry of Public Works (right).

The statue in the center of the square commemorates Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, the leaders of the Bruges Matin and heroes of the Battle of Golden Spurs in 1302. The French King wanted to take over Flanders, which was formally a part of the French Kingdom, but which resisted French rule. Philip IV appointed a French Governor of Flanders and took hostage the Count of Flanders, instigating unrest.

Rebel citizens of Brugge (Flemish for Bruges) who were part of the local militia led by Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, relocated outside the town before the French troops arrived. Their families and other remaining citizens were harassed by French troops. The rebel militia returned to the city one morning and murdered every person who could not properly pronounce a Flemish phrase. This incident known as the Bruges Matin led to the Battle of the Golden Spurs (Battle of Courtrai).

Philip IV sent a strong force under Robert of Artois, which was defeated by two groups of Flemish militia in a field outside the city of Courtrai (south of Bruges), primarily due to poor strategy of the French and a sound position by the Flemish. No prisoners were taken, and the name of the battle is derived from the large number of golden spurs taken from the bodies of at least 1000 French knights. The battle killed over 40% of the French nobility and the heads of over 75 French noble families, forcing all military leaders to rethink the use of cavalry in future battles. It was one of the worst defeats in French military history.

The successful tactics led to the Infantry Revolution, and additional defeats of the French by the English at the Battle of Crécy in 1346 and the Battle of Agincourt  in 1415 (both important defeats of the French during the 100 Years War). These and other defeats of cavalry along with large numbers of archers armed with the English longbow in the 13th and early 14th centuries led to the gradual reduction of expensive mounted knights and greater reliance on heavily armed infantry.


Breydel deConinck Market Square 2089
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Detail of the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, with the Neo-Gothic Ministry of Public Works (background right).


Breydel deConinck Market Square 2391
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The statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, Heroes of the Battle of the Golden Spurs, was installed in Market Square (Grote Markt: Great Market) in 1887.


Bruges Market Square Restaurants 1935
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Market Square restaurants and shops (right), with the tower of the Ministry of Public Works at right,
which was built in 1910-1914 from an Eclectic Neo-Gothic design by architect J. Coomans of Ypres.
The Late Gothic facade with Neo-Renaissance elements replaced a late Classicist building from
1789-91 which was partially destroyed by the fire of 1878. The staircase tower was inspired by
the tower of Poortersloge (Burgher’s Lodge, shown further below in the aerial shots section).


Bruges Market Square Restaurants 1941
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Diners at the Taverne Brugeoise brasserie and tea room on Market Square at Geernaartstraat, with the Neo-Gothic Tower of the Ministry of Public Works in the background at right.

The image at right is a view down the narrow medieval street Geernaartstraat, which links Grote Markt with Eiermarkt (the Egg Market). Most streets in Bruges (Brugge in Flemish) are quite narrow... some are so narrow that you can touch walls on both sides of the street, e.g. Stoofstraat (Stove Street) on the Canals and Street Scenes page (example linked below).

Stoofstraat, one of the narrowest streets in Bruges.


Bruges Market Square Restaurants 1940
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Geernaartstraat and Belfort 1943
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The view down Geernaartstraat from the far end of the Eiermarkt (Egg Market).

The Geernaartstraat entrance to Grote Markt is directly opposite the 13th c. Belfort (bell tower).


Eiermarkt Entrance to Market Square 1950
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The Eiermarkt (Egg Market) entrance to Grote Markt (Market Square), with the 13th c. Belfort (bell tower, 1240) at the right.


Bruges Eiermarkt 1944
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The Eiermarkt (Egg Market) behind Market Square, with the monumental pump by Pieter Pepers in the background.


Bruges Market Square 1928
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Medieval towers, stepped gables and horse-drawn carriages on the Grote Markt. Stepped gables are common in Bruges.


Market Square at Sunrise 2282
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Market Square sans tourists, preparing for a new day. The crenellated building at left (with tower) is Craenenburg House.

The current Craenenburg house was built on the site of the medieval house where the Counts of Flanders used to watch tournaments from the windows, and where Maximilian I (later Holy Roman Emperor) was arrested for 22 days in 1488.


Provincial Palace 2082
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At left, the Neo-Gothic Ministry of Public Works. Center is the Provincial Palace, housing the
offices of the Governor of the Province of West Flanders, and at right is the Posteruen (Post Office).

The Neo-Bruges Provinciaalhof replaced the late Classicist building which had caused controversy
due to its incompatibility with the character of the architecture on the square. It was heavily damaged in
the 1878 fire. The principal construction was completed by 1909 under the direction of Louis Delacenserie.


Provincial Palace 1933
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The Provincial Palace, formerly the Water Hall (1294-1787), which was used for offloading cargo carried on the canals.


Provincial Palace 2195
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The Provincial Palace was rebuilt in Gothic Revival style by Louis Delacenserie, the Architect of Bruges (1881-1921).


Provincial Palace 2200
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Provinciaal Hof (Provincial Palace on Grote Markt) at sunset.


Provincial Palace 2203
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Light in Bruges can change radically from moment to moment.


Bruges Post Office at Sunset 2199
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Side facade of the Posteruen (Postgebouw or Post Office) at the
corner of Wollestraat and Briedelstraat in the golden rays of sunset.

Built between 1885 and 1891 by Louis Delacenserie in Neo-Bruges style.


Provincial Palace at Night 1205
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A tremendously difficult 2/3 second hand-held shot of the Provincial Palace at night.

As tripods would not be allowed in many places where one would be needed, and would
be a dangerous obstruction on the narrow streets of Europe, I did not bring one with me.
Most of the time I used a very fast wide angle lens (28mm f/1.4), but this one was taken
at 22mm, 2/3 second at f/8 with the 17-35mm f/2.8 (for those who may be interested).


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Bruges Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 6 Galleries in the Photoshelter Bruges Collection (Direct Links):

Bruges: Burg Square
Market Square and Bell Tower
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw and Gruuthuse
Canal Scenes and Street Scenes
Bruges: Houses and Buildings
Statues and Sculptures


Bruges Belfort 2076
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The Belfort (Bell Tower or Belfry) of Bruges, taken from a block away on Wollestraat with
an 85mm telephoto lens. The early 17th century building at left is on Kartuizerinnenstraat
(Carthusian Nuns Street). The square lower section of the Belfort was built in 1240 atop
the Cloth Hall, the indoor market for Flemish Lace and textiles built during the height of
prosperity (Bruges was important in the Flemish textile industry from the 13th century).
The octagonal upper section was built 1482-86, and the parapet was added in 1822.

The 1240 construction of the current bell tower replaced a wooden tower from 1211.
In 1280, a fire damaged the upper section, which was rebuilt with a square tower
 (with new timbers and bells) in 1345-46. This section was heavily damaged by a
severe storm (1389), restored by master mason Jan van Oudernaede (1395).
Various work was performed on the tower and bell chamber from 1420-1450,
until in 1482-86 the octagonal sandstone section was built, with a wooden
spire topped with a statue of St. Michael. The fire of 1493 destroyed the
spire, clocks and mechanisms, and woodwork. In 1499-1502, a new,
more elaborate three-section spire topped with a lion was built. In
1523, due to the tilting of the tower to the Southeast, designs for
reinforcing sandstone pillars were drawn up, and these were
installed in 1554. In 1741, the spire, woodwork and carillon
were destroyed when the tower was struck by lightning.
The repairs did not include a spire this time, and the
carillon and the clock mechanism were replaced.

The Belfort was rebuilt three times after the fires in 1280, 1493 and 1741.
This was referred to by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ”The Belfry of Bruges”:

In the market-place of Bruges stands the belfry old and brown;
Thrice consumed and thrice rebuilded, still it watches o'er the town.
(a link to Longfellow’s entire poem at


Cloth Hall Courtyard Entrance 1922
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The south entrance to the Cloth Hall Courtyard on Oude Burg. The Gothic arch and rib-vault is inside of a 13th c. colonnade.


Bruges Belfort 1926
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The south side of the Belfort (Bell Tower)
looming over the Cloth Hall Courtyard.


Bruges Belfort 1932
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Bruges Belfort 2092
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Two images of the north side of the Cloth Hall and Belfort
(Bell Tower) taken from Market Square (Grote Markt).
The Belfort is the most well-known landmark of Bruges.


Bruges Belfort 2205
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The Cloth Hall and Belfort in the golden rays of sunset.

The Belfort housed the Municipal Archives and Treasury and acted as a
watchtower and carillon. The tower leans about a meter to the east (left).

The Cloth Hall was an indoor market which housed the primary outlet for
Flemish Cloth manufactured in the entire area. Bruges was an important
medieval trade center until the silting up of the Zwin in the 15th century.


Bruges Belfort Detail 2206 M
1000 x 1600 (367 KB)

A large detail crop of the North side of the Belfort.

M-sized detail crops were specially created for this website,
and have larger text in the title bars than other images in this section.


Bruges Belfort Sunrise 2285
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A dramatic low-angle oblique taken at sunrise.


Bruges Belfort Sunrise 2288
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The Belfort stands 83 meters (273 feet) tall.


Bruges Belfort Night 1213
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A ridiculously difficult 1.3 second hand-held shot of the Belfort at night.

Those among you who are photographers will realize that getting a clean
long exposure hand-held shot requires a steady hand and lots of practice.


Bell Tower Carillon Movement 2922 2925
1588 x 1250 (374 KB)

I climbed the 366 steps to the top of the Bell Tower to get some aerial shots of Bruges.

This composite image shows the 16th century Carillon movement controlling the bells
(they also employ a full-time Bell Ringer who occasionally gives impromptu concerts).

The peals from the 47 bells are unbelievably loud from inside the bell tower.


Aerial Bruges North View 2930

North view from atop the Belfort with the docks in the distance. The church at center left is Heilig-Hartkerk. The Gothic tower of the Ministry of Public Works is at the bottom center. The slender tower in the center is Poortersloge (Burgher’s Lodge).


Poortersloge and Sint-Gilliskerk North View 2958

A telephoto closeup of the area shown in the right center of the previous image, with detail of the Poortersloge (15th c. Burgher’s Lodge, left) and Sint-Gilliskerk (St. Giles Church, 13th century, seen at the upper right).


Poortersloge North View 2958c
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A detail crop of the early 15th century Poortersloge (Burgher’s Lodge).


Heilig-Hartkerk and Docks North View 2954

A telephoto shot of the upper right section of the first image (2930), with detail of Heilig-Hartkerk
(Sacred Heart Church, the former Jesuit Church in Bruges) and the Lodewijk Coiseaukaai docks.


Onze-Lieve-Vrouw and Sint-Salvator 2938
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The southwest view, shooting nearly into the sun,
with Onze-Lieve-Vrouwkerk (Church of Our Lady)
at left, and Cathedral Sint-Salvator on the right.


Sint-Salvator Southwest View 2932
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Cathedral Sint-Salvator was originally built in the 9th century as a parish church (the Cathedral was Sint-Donatius, which was destroyed by the French during the French Revolution).


Cathedral Sint-Salvator 2945
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The oldest surviving part of the cathedral is the base of the tower (12th C.), much of the rest was built over the later centuries. The upper part of the tower was built after the fire of 1839, when the English architect R. Chantrell restored the cathedral under the direction of Bruges architect P. Buyck.

Cathedral Sint-Salvator contains many works of art from the Sint-Donatius cathedral (destroyed by the French), including tapestries manufactured locally, the original paintings which the tapestries were made from (an unusual combination), and the weapons of the Knights of the Golden Fleece.

The Order of the Golden Fleece is an Order of Chivalry similar to the English Order of the Garter. It was founded in 1430 by Philip III, Duke of Burgundy when he was elected to the Order of the Garter but had to decline to avoid offending the King of France. The weapons on display in Sint-Salvator are those of the original 24 Knights elected at the meeting that founded the Order of the Golden Fleece.


Prinsenhof Duke’s Palace Kempinski Hotel 2944

The West view from atop the Belfort showing the Prinsenhof, the former Palace of the Counts of Flanders and the Dukes of Burgundy. This shot was taken when it was being restored and converted to the Kempinski Duke’s Palace Hotel. It was originally built in the 14th century, which is the period of construction of the circular tower with the conical peak.


Prinsenhof Duke’s Palace Kempinski Hotel 2956

West view from atop the Belfort (Bell Tower), with the Prinsenhof (Duke’s Palace) at right.

At the end of the 16th century, Philip II sold the domain and the Palace was fragmented. In the
17th-19th centuries, the Palace was used as a girl’s boarding school by the English Sisters of
the Third Order of St. Francis. In the late 19th century, the Palace was acquired by the Dames
de la Retraite du Sacre-Coeur uit Boulogne and renovated in the French Gothic Revival style.


Town Hall and Rozenhoedkaai East View 2933
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East view from atop the Belfort with Burg Square and Town Hall (Stadhuis, 1376)
at the lower left and center, and Rozenhoedkaai (Rose Hat Quay) at the lower right.

The Rozenhoedkaai is one of the most scenic areas of Bruges, and is shown in
detail on both the Canals and Street Scenes and Houses and Buildings pages.


Town Hall Tower Detail 5x4 2949
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A telephoto detail shot of the Gothic Towers of the Stadhuis (Town Hall, 1376).

Three of the towers on the Burg Square side of the Stadhuis end in octagonal turrets.


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Bruges Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 6 Galleries in the Photoshelter Bruges Collection (Direct Links):

Bruges: Burg Square
Market Square and Bell Tower
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw and Gruuthuse
Canal Scenes and Street Scenes
Bruges: Houses and Buildings
Statues and Sculptures


Click the image above to return to the Bruges Index page