As I wrote about yesterday, PJ and I were recently in Belgium. I had one day at the end of the trip to be just a tourist, so we took the train up to Bruges and spent most of a day walking around this historic city.

Bruges saw its heyday in the late Medieval and early Renaissance periods. By the fifteenth century it was one of the cultural centers for art in Europe. Amazingly, Bruges survived both world wars in tact, making it an almost pristine glimpse into the art and architecture of the early Renaissance.

Bruges is an incredibly beautiful city — it was cold but mostly clear while we visited. It must be heavenly in the summer! The architecture combined with the canals make it a uniquely beautiful place. Many of the streets are cobblestones, and the oldest houses and buildings are built so as to form continuous walls and fortifications. I could almost feel what it was like to have lived here hundreds of years ago. Cars and other signs of modernity seem so out of place in these streets.

After we left the train station, we made out way to the Market Square, which was being decorated for the holidays. After walking around it, we decided to climb the bell tower, which was built in 1300.