My favourite place: Bruges, Belgium

In the June 2018 issue of BBC History Magazine, Nicola Tallis selects Bruges, Belgium, as her favourite place. History Extra caught up with her to find out more...

A picturesque scene in Bruges, Belgium

When did you last travel there and why were you there?

I was last in Bruges in January as part of a New Year cruise with my family. There were thirteen of us indulging in Belgian beer and tucking into the tasty treats on offer at the Christmas market – the atmosphere was very jolly and full of New Year’s cheer!

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Why do you love the location?

Bruges exudes history, and it doesn’t take too much imagination to envisage yourself back in the medieval period. Aside from its museums, churches and historical buildings, it’s full of cobbled streets, dainty squares and quaint shops – a true medieval gem!

What top 3 sights would you recommend people visit there, and why?

Belfort (Belfry) – the climb is well worth it for the stunning views over the city’s main square.

Church of Our Lady – this beautiful church houses a marble sculpture of Madonna and Child by Michelangelo, and the magnificent tombs of Charles the Bold and Mary of Burgundy.

St Bonifacius Bridge – one of the most picturesque spots in the whole of Bruges.


During what period of its history would you most have wanted to have visited this location?

The 15th century. I’d love to have witnessed the nine days of elaborate celebrations that were staged in the city to mark the wedding of Charles the Bold to Margaret of York in 1468. It was said that the fountains flowed with Burgundian wine, and a whole host of pageants and jousts were staged.


Where else in the world would you most like to visit?

Vienna is high on my list, as I’m dying to take the Grand Tour of the opulent rooms at the Schönbrunn Palace. I’m also really keen to visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum to check out the Habsburgs collection. The city’s musical background is really appealing – I enjoy Mozart so I’d love to go to the opera! Palaces, art and music: the perfect combination!

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Nicola Tallis is a historian. She is author of Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth’s Rival (both Michael O’Mara, 2016 and 2017)