Brugse Vrije

Historic Building in Burg, Markt & North Bruges
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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.