Bruges (Dutch: Brugge) is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium in the northwest of the country. The city’s total population is 117,073 of which around 20,000 live in the city centre. The metropolitan area has a total of 255,844 inhabitants. Because of it numerous canals it is sometimes called ‘The Venice of the North’. Brugge has a significant economic importance thanks to its port. At one time, it was considered the “chief commercial city” of the world. It received its city charter on July 27, 1128.
After 1965 the original medieval city experienced a renaissance. Restorations of residential and commercial structures, historic monuments, and churches generated a surge in tourism and economic activity in the ancient downtown area.
Many of its medieval buildings are notable, including the Church of Our Lady, whose brick spire reaches 122.3 m (401.25 ft), one of the world’s tallest brick towers. The sculpture Madonna and Child, which can be seen in the transept, is believed to be Michelangelo’s only sculpture to have left Italy within his lifetime.