Italy has Venice, West Flanders has Bruges. Surely you have heard of this wonderful city, and perhaps you’ve already visited it? What did you think of the Belfry, the old City Hall or Church of Our Lady? Did you see Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges?
- 8.3 million visitors per year
- €708 million revenues form tourism
- Belfry - 83 metres high and 47 bells
- 14 museums and 845,000 visitors
West Flanders also has a long tradition in textiles. During the Middle Ages, cities like Bruges, Ypres and Courtrai made the region famous for its cloth industry. Today the textile industry is still very much present in West Flanders and represents a mix of tradition and innovation.
- 58% of Flemish exports in textiles
- 55% of Flemish turnover in textiles
- Lace was invented in the 16th century
- Belgian linen is a registered trademark
West Flemish people excel in the arts. Throughout our history we have been home to many world-renowned painters. Who doesn’t know Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling or James Ensor? Clearly West Flanders is the ideal location for inspiration and innovations.
- 34 world-renowned works by Flemish primitives
- 100 attractions and museums in West Flanders
- 340 X 440 CM - the size of Jan van Eyck's masterpiece
- 13 UNESCO world heritage sites
Did you know West Flemish is one of the oldest Dutch dialects, and that it dates back more than 700 years? Many current West Flemish words haven’t changed for centuries, so you could speak of lochting (garden) and wrochten (to work) and our ancestors from the 15th century would understand you perfectly.
- Still speak dialect
- 12 different dialect words for a 'swing'
- Wikipedia language option for West-Vlams
- 1.5 Million speakers
Each year, the ‘martyr’ town of Ypres, in West Flanders, attracts thousands of World War I visitors from the UK. Every night at 8 p.m., a moving ceremony takes place under the town’s Menin Gate. This ‘Last Post’ ceremony has been a daily ritual in Ypres since 1928.
- 8 P.M.
- Menin gate: 54,896 names of soldiers with no known grave
- Played on bugle
The Longest Tram Line in the World is in West Flanders. The Kusttram is one of the most interesting and unique tourist attractions on the Belgian coast. Built in 1885, this tram line lets you travel from La Panne (on the French border) to Knokke-Heist (on the Dutch border).
- 67 kilometres
- 2 hours 21 minutes
- 67 stops
- Every 10 minutes
The Mercator barquentine was designed by the Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlache, who led the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897–99. Originally a training ship for the Belgian merchant fleet, it is now moored in front of the City Hall of Ostend, and since 1996 has been given National Heritage status.
- Built in 1932
- Brought home father Damien's remains from Molokai
- 15 sails - 1,600 m²