The ramparts of Bruges are a spacious six-kilometer park which almost completely surrounds the old town.The miles of fortifications which surrounded the old town, the many parks in the city and the green belt around the town make it pleasant to live and to visit.
While the picturesque town center is endlessly fascinating we mustn’t forget Bruges’ city ramparts. The green lung encircles almost the entire town and offers a variety of interesting locations worth discovering. You can for example admire the four remaining windmills as well as four medieval town gates. The modern Conzettebridge spans the entrance to the small marina and is just one of many bridges that frequently open for boats.
On the north-east side of the city four ancient windmills can be found.
In their current ’green’ form, the ramparts go back till the second half of the 19th century. But their origins lie much further back in time: they were at the end of the 13th century as a city wall.
On the north-east side of the city four ancient windmills can be found. They stand on the remains of the earthwork bastions of the inner fortification line.
The park construction was made possible by the fact that, around that era, the windmills were systematically demolished. For centuries about 25 to 30 windmills stood along the canal. They produced the flour needed for the daily diet of the numerous urban population. During the 19th century, the steam mills made that windmills were becoming obsolete. By the end of the 19th century they were almost all disappeared. Only at the Kruispoort stayed out two. Since 1970, there were two historic windmills from elsewhere in the province moved to Bruges, so that there are now four mills at Kruisvest: a unique windmill landscape in Flanders!
In the south, the 15th century Poertoren (powder tower) and the adjacent bridge have survived and are found near the Minnewater park. The Poertoren was built in 1401 by Jan van Oudenaerde. This is where the people of Bruges stacked their supply of gunpower. It is about 18 metres high and it is a remnant of the late-medieval city walls. Nearby is a cute garden, right next to the river. This is where the best picture of it can be taken. Quite enjoyable!
Bruges' remaining four town gates were a part of the second defensive walls that were built at the end of the 13th century.
The Ezelpoort (Donkey Gate)
In its present state, this gate dates back to 1369. The first Ezelpoort was built during the construction of the second defensive girdle at the end of the 13th century. This gate is a so-called watergate, which means it is built on an embankment in the canal.
This gate is located on the old road to Ghent, from which is derived its name. It was built in the beginning of the 15th century on the same location of a previous gate that was erected at the end of the 13th century.
In its current condition, this gate dates back to the start of the 15th century (begin construction in 1401), the same time that also the Gentpoort and the former Katelijnepoort were being built. During its lifespan the gate has had quite a bit of alterations. Originally, the complex was much bigger,
This gate shows many similarities with another surviving gate: the Ezelpoort. They were both built in the same period (Smedenpoort in 1368). A new upper part was added to the gate in 1615. In 1944, the building was severely damaged by an explosion. In 1948 it received an intensive restoration.
Althought the Dampoort doesn't exist anymore (demolished in 1871), it is worthwhile mentioning because it was the largest bulwark in medieval Bruges. The Dampoort was actually a complex of no less than three gates that were interconnected: the Speipoort, the Sint-Niklaaspoort and the Sint-Lenaartspoort. It was no surprise that this massive defensive stronghold was built here since this was the place where ships entered the town.