Beautiful Bruges: Old-world Europe in the present; John Marshall; AP

Belgium – Historic Centre of Brugge

BRUGES, Belgium (AP) — Walking through central Bruges is like a romantic journey into the past.

With centuries-old gabled buildings lining a web of canals and cobblestone streets, the vibe is quintessential old-world Europe.

Bruges also is one of the most beautiful cities in Western Europe, a place that has been called the Venice of the North.

Located about an hour northwest of Brussels not far from the North Sea, Bruges is the capital of West Flanders in the Flemish region of Belgium. The city was spared major damage during the two world wars, so much of its medieval architecture is intact, earning the historic center of town a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 2000.

Just walking the streets and along the canals is worth the trip, but there are a few must-see sites around the city, including an early work by Michelangelo.

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