Before explaining the role of the city of Bruges as a hanseatic city, the term ‘Hanse’ should first be defined. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a hanse should be considered as “a league originally constituted of merchants of various free German cities dealing abroad in the medieval period and later of the cities themselves and organized to secure greater safety and privileges in trading.”
Bruges, also known as the Venice of the North, was from the 13th to the 15th century the trading hub between the Hanseatic cities of the Scandinavian countries, England and Germany and the most important trading centres in France, Spain and Italy. The Spanish merchants settled themselves at the Spaanse Loskaai (‘Spanish Unloading Quay’), whereas the Scandinavian, English and German traders were active at the ‘Oosterlingenplein’ (‘Easterners’ Square’).
Today, tourists can still experience the atmosphere of this period in various places in the city.
Tolhuis (‘Old Toll House’)
In the Middle Ages tolls were collected at the Sint-Jansbrug (‘the saint John’s bridge’), now the Jan van Eyckplein (square). Pieter van Luxemburg, a knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, used this money to rebuild the Toll House in 1477. His coat of arms was depicted in the late Gothic porch. On the left is the natural stone facade of the guild house of the stevedores. Four porch statuettes reflect the trade.
Florentijnse loge (‘House of the Florentines’)
This 13th century corner house was once the base of the Florentine traders. Just like the nearby Genoese lodge and House Ter Beurse the ‘House of the Florentines’ was around 1430 enriched with an impressive screen façade and corner turrets.Today the restaurant “The Florentines” is housed in this splendid historical building.
Jan van Eyckplein (‘Jan van Eyck Square’)
On the website of the city of Bruges, this square is labelled as ‘the Manhattan of the Burgundian Middle Ages’. In the bustling port, merchants from all over Europe traded in every conceivable language. Today this square is dominated by the statue of the painter Jan van Eyck. From there, visitors can stroll through the working-class neighbourhoods.
Woensdagmarkt (‘Wednesday Market’) & Oosterlingenplein (‘Oosterlingen Square’)
Both squares are close to each other. On the Wednesday Market the visitors can observe the statue of Hans Memling, one of the famous Flemish Primitives. The term ‘Oosterlingen’ (“Easterners”) in the name of the other square covers the merchants of the Hanseatic League who had their basis here.
Are you ready to discover Bruges as an as a hanseatic city?
Book your Early Bird ticket now (deadline 17th of December 2021) and be ready to discover the anseatic city – next to a great conference experience off course ;-).