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Bruges is situated in the north west of Flanders in Belgium, about 70km west of Antwerp and 40km north west of Gent. The port of Zeebrugge is 14km to the north and Ostend 25km west. The present city dates from the middle ages and largely escaped the destruction wrought on many Belgian cities by two world wars. During the first world war the German commander set his defensive line against the British south of the city but when his lines were broken he retreated to north of the city so that no fighting took place in Bruges.
During the second world war the German commander in the area facing the advance of the allied armies was ordered to shell Bruges. He refused to obey the order saying that he could see no strategic advantage in destroying such a beautiful city and so Bruges was once again saved by this brave man.
We have visited Bruges on occasions before but this is the first time we have been here in Harmonie and have a winter berth in the Coupure French for "cut" only a 10 minute walk from the city centre.
In the year , Bruges was declared a World Heritage Site encompassing 10, buildings of which half are of great architectural or urban value. We always liked Bruges and for some unknown reason we refer to it by its French name rather than its Flemish name of Brugge. Brits first came to live in Bruges after Napoleon was defeated by Wellington at the battle of Waterloo. When visiting the famous battlefield they often passed through Bruges and many liked it so much they decided to live here.
It grew to a community of several thousand at one time but most left with the onset of the first world war. Perhaps that is why it is unusual to find anyone in Bruges who does not speak English but more likely because they welcome four million tourists every year, many of them English speaking. There are more than 50 Chocolatier here and restaurants by the hundred!