Bruges, Belgium

Bruges became important due to the Golden Inlet, a tidal inlet to the coast that was important to local commerce. Since about 1050, gradual silting had caused the city to lose its direct access to the sea. A storm in 1134, however, re-established this access, through the creation of a natural channel at the Zwin.

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Bruges always had a strategic  location but when the old system of fairs broke down the entrepreneurs of Bruges innovated. They developed, or borrowed from Italy, new forms of merchant capitalism, whereby several merchants would share the risks and profits and pool their knowledge of markets. They employed new forms of economic exchange, including bills of exchange (i.e. promissory notes) and letters of credit. The city eagerly welcomed foreign traders, most notably the Portuguese traders selling pepper and other spices. In 1277, the first merchant fleet from Genoa appeared in the port of Bruges, first of the merchant colony that made Bruges the main link to the trade of the Mediterranean. This development opened not only the trade in spices from the Levant, but also advanced commercial and financial techniques and a flood of capital that soon took over the banking of Bruges. The Bourse opened in 1309, most likely the first stock exchange in the world, and developed into the most sophisticated money market of the Low Countries in the 14th century. Starting around 1500, the Zwin channel, the Golden Inlet, which had given the city its prosperity, also started silting and the Golden Era had ended.

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Provincial Palace, Markt
Statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, Markt
Belfry viewed from the Markt

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Statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, Markt

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Gate of The Palace of the Liberty of Bruges viewed from the Blinde Ezelstraat
Belfry viewed from the Dijver
Golden statues on The Palace of the Liberty of Bruges

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Statue on the Johannes Nepomucenusbridge
Emblem of the old fish market, Vismarkt
Mother and child statue near Walplein
Column topped by a pair of lions, Huidevettersplein
Mural on the Huidevetters House, Huidevettersplein
Mural on a house of the Rozenhoedkaai

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The Minnewater
Women in medieval clothing along the Minnewater
The Poertoren
Minnewater Bridge

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Main entrance to the Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde viewed from Wijngaardplein
House and courtyard of Begijnhof Ten Wijngaerde
Main entrancegate to the Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde viewed from Wijngaardplein
Main entrance to the Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde
House and courtyard of Begijnhof Ten Wijngaerde

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St John’s Hospital and Church of Our Lady
Statue of the painter Jan Van Eyck, Jan van Eyckplein
Poortersloge, Jan van Eyckplein

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Murals and scupltures in the streets of Bruges
Brugs Beertje, Poortersloge
Coat of Arms of Bruges
Mother and child statue
Crest, Academiestraat
City Shield, Old Tollhouse
Female bust

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Religious ornamental statues throughout the streets of Bruges

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The Four Horsemen of the Acopalypse by  Rik Poot in the Arentshof

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Gate to the Gruuthuuse and the Church of Our Lady of Bruges
Cavalry of the Church of Our Lady of Bruges
Tower of the Church of Our Lady of Bruges

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Wooden house of the Bourgoensch Hof
Belfry viewed from the Dijver
Huidevettershuis along the Dijver

 

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