The 5 most unexpected animals in Bruges

1) Bear

The statue of a bear on the wall of the 15th-century Poortersloge is described as the oldest citizen of Bruges. It refers to a mediaeval legend in which the Count of Flanders, Baldwin of the Iron Arm, killed a white bear in the woods near Bruges. Ever since, the bear has been the symbol of the city.

Statue of Bear at Poortersloge

Academiestraat 14

2) Dog

Until he died in 2016, a Golden Retriever called Fidèle was the most famous dog in Belgium. He could be spotted with his head resting on an old pillow on the window ledge of the Côté Canal guesthouse overlooking the Groenerei canal. He even had a small role in the film In Bruges.

Fidèle the Dog in Bruges


3) Swans

It is often said that Emperor Maximilian punished the people of Bruges for executing his loyal official Pieter Lanchals by ordering them to keep 52 swans on the canals of Bruges. It is an unlikely story, since there were swans in Bruges long before Maximilian, but the legend is too romantic to go away.

Swan in Bruges


4) Sheep

Dogs you expect. But not sheep. You find them grazing in the little Hof de Jonghe park, and along the Damse Vaart leading to Damme. Every year, a herd of sheep is brought to Bruges to join the Holy Blood Procession and occasionally one or two will wander off into a local shop.

Sheep during the Holy Blood Procession

Langerei 75

5) Horses

Horses pulling carriages are a familiar sight in the streets of Bruges. They slow down the traffic and annoy local residents. Some would like them banned, but their owners point out the horses are kept in luxurious stables located in the farmland outside Bruges where they are given showers and two days of rest for each day they spend taking tourists around.

Horses with a carriage in Bruges

Buy this book

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.

Go to bookshop

Join the community

Sign up for free to gain unlimited access to the website. Plus, you'll receive a 10% discount in our online bookshop.

Sign up