The 5 most interesting historic places in Bruges
1) Centrale Begraafplaats
The city cemetery is a quiet, romantic graveyard filled with crumbling stone tombs of eminent locals like poet Guido Gezelle and sculptor Henri Pickery. Look out for the strange tomb of Antoine Michel Wernaer, known to the grave diggers as Pirate Piet (with an ivy-covered stone skull on top) and the English cemetery hidden away in an overgrown corner.
2) Bruges to Damme
This beautiful route follows the wide Damse Vaart canal built by Napoleon in the early 19th century. The 30-minute ride to Damme takes you along a quiet rural road shaded by tall Canadian poplars. From Damme, you can continue along the canal to the Dutch border town of Sluis. Follow the fietsnet cycle network numbers 23, 60, 10 and 6 to reach Damme.
3) Fort van Beieren
The Fort van Beieren is a curious relic of the wars fought in this region in the early 18th century. The fort was constructed in 1705 by French troops fighting in the Spanish War of Succession. It was torn down in 1956, leaving just the vague outline of the earth ramparts.
4) Seafront Zeebrugge
The huge industrial sheds in Zeebrugge where fish used to be auctioned have been turned into a maritime theme park. The main attraction is a former Soviet submarine from the Cold War era where you can crawl through claustrophobic compartments past narrow bunk beds while hidden speakers play patriotic Russian songs.
5) Loppem Castle
Located in the countryside just outside Bruges, Loppem Castle is not too well known. You can sometimes be the only visitor. Yet this 19th-century Flemish neo-Gothic castle designed by the architect Jean de Bethune has a fascinating interior. The castle also has a maze planted in 1873 at the far end of the estate.
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The 500 Hidden Secrets of Bruges reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Bruges' best-kept secrets.
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