Groenerei or Green Canal of Bruges, Belgium

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Brugse Vrije


Eye-catching with its early baroque gables, gilt highlights and golden statuettes, this was once the seat of the ‘Liberty of Bruges’, the large autonomous territory and administrative body that ruled from Bruges (1121–1794). Much of the building is still used for city offices, but you can visit the former aldermen’s room, the Renaissancezaal, to admire its remarkable 1531 carved chimney piece. Admission also includes entry to the stadhuis.

Above a black-marble fireplace and alabaster frieze, an incredibly detailed oak carving depicts a sword-waving Emperor Charles V. Charles is flanked by his grandfathers, Ferdinand of Aragon and Maximilian of Austria, both of whom sport extremely flattering codpieces.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bruges attractions

1. Gotische Zaal

0.03 MILES

Within the stadhuis, this hall's polychromatic ceiling almost drips with medieval carvings. Murals depicting the town's history add to the room's…

2. Stadhuis

0.03 MILES

The beautiful 1420 stadhuis features a fanciful facade that’s second only to Leuven’s for exquisitely turreted Gothic excess. Inside, an audioguide…

3. Burg

0.03 MILES

Just east of the Markt, the less theatrical but still enchanting Burg has been Bruges' administrative centre for centuries. It's in this area you'll find…

4. Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed

0.05 MILES

The western end of the stadhuis morphs into the Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed. The basilica takes its name from a phial supposedly containing a few drops…

5. Sint-Donaaskerk Foundations

0.05 MILES

In the 1990s, when excavating for the foundations of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, workers literally hit a wall. This wall, it turned out, belonged to the 10th…

6. The Beer Experience


The Markt's newest attraction will appeal to the many who love a Belgian beer. Guided by a multilingual iPad app, the museum takes you through the history…

7. Museum-Gallery XPO Salvador Dali

0.11 MILES

Located within the Belfort, this small gallery has one of the largest private collections of work (primarily sketches, painting and sculpture) of the…

8. Markt Hallen

0.11 MILES

The 13th-century former market halls occupy a rectangular building at the base of the Belfort, only 44m across but 84m deep. The halls have been at the…