In recent years, the cobbled city of Bruges is best known as the backdrop for Colin Farrell’s sulking in crime comedy In Bruges, but you only need to set foot on its spider-web streets to see the heritage flowing in each direction. Home of fine art and finer wines (and fantastic beers) the rich history of Bruges is easy to get swept up in.
As one of the most well-preserved medieval cities in Europe – and home to the world’s first stock exchange – the former superpower is the perfect business destination. Known as the ‘Venice of the North’, taking a tour through the city by boat is the easiest way to take in its many sights and get a feel for just how much is on offer. Across the cityscape, the eras of architecture sit side-by-side, marking centuries of achievement and giving even the smallest event spaces a seal of quality.
Central to the city is the Markt, a great market square, and it’s a perfect example of what Bruges offers. The square itself was named in the ninth century and the architecture on display ranges from Neo-classicism and Renaissance to its great Gothic Town Hall, all welcoming the business world. Just around the corner, you’ll find the market square Place De Bruges, overlooked by the Belfry tower, where you can climb the 366 steps to find a working bell and see the city from a completely new perspective.
If viewing the city from land, sea and air aren’t doing it for you, there’s one more trick the World Heritage Site has up its sleeve, and unsurprisingly it involves embracing its history. Within a grand building on Place De Bruges is the Historium, an immersive museum that sets out to give visitors a sense of what the city has looked like through the last 900 years in a virtual world.
Wearing goggles and looking around a computer-generated 13th-century Bruges sounds about as surreal as it feels, and stretching out an arm to find that you can naturally interact with some of your surroundings is even more peculiar. Taking the goggles off and exploring the Historium’s interactive tour is just as immersive, and it helps emphasise the love, care and pride oozing from residents wherever you turn.
Venues and sight-seeing aside, Bruges wouldn’t fly the Belgian flag if it didn’t champion all things chocolate and beer, and it doesn’t disappoint on either. Offering soft, delicate and rich chocolates from renowned chocolatiers and more beer than you can imagine proudly displayed along the renowned Beer Wall, the city flaunts a condensed and authentic history unique to itself. Within walking distance, Bruges invites businesses to do everything from exploring classic sites to entering virtual worlds and even organising a knees-up at a brewery.