Our next destination after Brussels was Bruges. It is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish region of Belgium.
The city's history made it great, showing still well deserved recognition as a Unesco World Heritage. It is also refereed to as the Venice of the North as it one of the canal-based northern cities. It has significant economic importance thanks to its port and was once one of the world's chief commercial cities.
The author also came to Bruges as it is well known as the seat of the College of Europe, an elite university institute for European studies regarded as the EU's first Oxbridge.
Taking history, Bruges was a location of coastal settlement during prehistory. This Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement is unrelated to medieval city development. In the Bruges area, the first fortifications were built after Julius Caesar's conquest of the Menapii in the first century BC, to protect the coastal area against pirates. Then it was took over from the Romas around the 4th century, the Viking incursions of the ninth century prompted Flanders to reinforce the Roman fortifications; trade soon resumed with England and Skandinavia. Early medieval habitation starts in the 9th and 10th century on the Burgh terrain, probably with a fortified settlement and church.
Bruges became important due to the tidal inlet that was important to local commerce. Bruges received its city charter on in 1128, and new walls and canals were built. In 1089 it became the capital of the County of Flanders 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. As the city had a strategic location at the crossroads of the northern Hanseatic Legue trade and southern routes. It was already in the circuit of floth fairs at the beginning of 13th century, and then started to develop new forms of mechant capitalism from Italians, employed new forms of economic exchange, including bills of exchange (i.e. promissory notes) and letters of credit. The city welcomed foreign traders, most notably the Portuguese traders selling pepper and other spices. In 1309 mostly likely that the first Stock exchange center which was established and developed into the most sophisticated money market.For the author, walking through Bruges left the memory of a romantic and inspiring fairy tale with breathing of the past, cobblestone streets leading to countless historical, architectural and artistic works.