There is even no need for me to say that Bruges is photogenic, charming, pretty, too good to be true.
But in addition to my stories about the myth of the frog prince and the legend of swans, a few more secrets and legends lurk in its medieval and cobblestoned lanes that gives it a more mysterious and enigmatic feel.
Come, let’s take a walk down Bruges’ most interesting lanes and alleys…
1. Legends of the Minnewater Bridge
Minnewater Lake is an oasis of this fairytale-like city. Surrounded by trees and located in the south part of the city, the area is tranquil and a hands-down romantic spot, so much so that it is proclaimed as one of the “kissing spots” in local maps 🙂
Little did I know that legends abound this place.
It is said that Minnewater Lake got its name from the Middle Dutch words “Minne” which means “water spirit”, based on the belief that an evil spirit lived under the bridge.
Another version says that it got its name from “minne” which also means “love”. Once upon a time there was an impossible love between a warrior, Stromberg, and a fisherman’s daughter, Minna. Minna refused to get into an arranged marriage and fled home. When the love of her life came back from war, he found Minna exhausted in the river and she died in his arms.
Superstitious belief says that walking over the bridge with your partner will have you experience eternal love (sigh…).
One day, I might go back, hopefully with my partner with me. I’m not sure how eternal love will come into picture then. All I am certain is that it will surely be a romantic walk to remember 🙂
2. Stoofstraat, Bruges’ Red Light District
Following the same Bruges map that I used to find my frog prince, I went to search for Bruges’ Red Light District in the olden days.
In the Middle Ages, Stoofstraat is the place where the rich would come and take a bath in the big bathhouse. The map says “the rich could get cleaned up and at the same get dirty with the ladies”, earning this street the title Bruges Red Light District.
Today, the bathhouses are gone and Stoofstraat is no longer the Red Light District of Bruges. Now it is considered the narrowest street in town. Look! You can touch both sides of the road with your own hands!
3. The Blind Donkey Alley
The alley connecting Burg Square and the Vismarkt is called Blinde Ezelstraat, or Blind Donkey Alley.
They say that the alley got its name from a legend that says that locals from Bruges stole a dragon that used to be an emblem of Ghent. The people of Ghent came to take the dragon back with a cart attached to a donkey. The donkey didn’t want to pass the gate so they had to blindfold it so they can pass and take the dragon back.
Another legend says that the house in the left-hand corner hugging the canal used to house a mill driven by a donkey. To preserve the animal from the thought that the only thing it had to do was turn endless rounds, the donkey was blindfolded.
However the alley got its name, it is one alley that I’m sure will never be missed by a tourist or photographer in Bruges. As you pass by the alley from Burg Square, look back to the lovely arch connecting the City Hall and Old Civil Registry with Solomon in the center, Statue of Prosperity to its left and the Statue of Peace to its right.
4. Cannon in Wollestraat
Another interesting puzzle in the Bruges map that caught my eye is to look for the cannon.
The map says that it was used in the olden times to protect the buildings against horse carriages. Other readings says it was left behind by Dutch troops in 1631.
It wasn’t easy to spot as I had no clue what to look for. But glad to know when I stumbled into the blog post where I took the photo above, that I found it.
See? There’s more to walking the streets of Bruges than meets the eye!
Enjoy your trip and please share more legends you’ll learn about this place!