The Legend of the Bruges Swans

One of the first things I saw, and I think added a lot to the charm of Bruges, are swans.

During the photo tour, my photo tour guide, Andy, mentioned about the legend surrounding the high visibility of swans all over Bruges. And so the legend goes something like…

The swans have been in Bruges canals and waters since 1448 when Emperor Maximilian was imprisoned in the city and the town administrator, Pieter Lanchais, was beheaded. The Lanchais family’s coat of arms featured a white swan, taken from their name which means “long neck”. The Emperor ordered the swans be kept on the canals of Bruges as a reminder of the dreadful crime.

Andy told me that 100 swans has to be kept in the city at any given time. Today, the city keeps 120 swans to make sure that they do not fall below the required 100. He says that penalty or tax or something to that effect will be imposed on the city if the number of swans fall below 100.

True or not, urban legend or truth, there’s only one thing I can say. The swans definitely add to the charm and tranquil atmosphere of Bruges. The canals are more delightful to watch with them and ducks playing on the waters.

Look at these photos. Don’t you think so?







3 thoughts on “The Legend of the Bruges Swans

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