Is the Historium in Bruges worth a visit?
Is the Historium Brugge worth a visit? It’s hard for Captain Ulysses to give a definite answer.
One thing is certain though: if you’re expecting to visit yet another history museum, you are in for a surprise! You won’t find anything remotely resembling a dusty exhibition about the city’s history here.
The Historium is all about new technologies: that’s both the museum’s greatest quality and biggest flaw! Because while the tour is truly impressive and interactive (virtual reality…), you’ll get out not quite sure whether you have truly learnt anything new about Bruges’ history.
In a nutshell, if you’re visiting Bruges with kids, then the Historium is most definitely worth a visit. If you’re not, the answer is slighly more complex. The Historium is an interesting experience, but not necessarily an enriching tour, and history lovers might just not be all that impressed.
It up to you to decide whether you’ll enjoy this type of museum or if you’d rather just pass!
Visiting the Historium
The Historium’s building
The Historium is housed in a stunning Neo-Gothic building in Bruges’ city centre, on the Market Place (the Markt).
Though it dates back to 1902, it is located on the exact spot where the Medieval Waterhalle used to stand. This old warehouse was the hub of local trade. It was knocked down in 1787 and a Provincial Palace was built in its place, but the building burned down less than a century later.
The Historium Story: an interactive tour experience
The Historium Story takes visitors on a journey to 15th century Bruges through the story of Jacob, an apprentice of famous painter Jan van Eyck.
Based on Van Eyck’s iconic painting ‘Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele’, the story follows Jacob’s quest throughout the city.
The tour takes visitors through 7 thematic rooms as Jacob’s story unravels. Each room offers a multi-sensory immersion in Medieval Bruges and gives visitors an overview of what the people’s lives were like in 1435, from the city’s docks to Jan van Eyck’s worksop, and even Bruges ancient bathhouse.
Though Jacob’s story is quite compelling, Captain Ulysses regretted the lack of actual historical information provided throughout the tour.
The Historium Exhibition
After the Historium Story, the museum includes a short, factual exhibition on the city’s golden age. It briefly presents the people’s daily lives, Bruges’ architecture and fortifications as well as the city’s economic vitality in the Middle-Ages.
One of the Historium’s greatest assets is also its panoramic terrace, which offers a magnificent view on the Market Place.
While visitors must pay to access the Historium Tower (the Captain will tell you more about that in a minute), access to the panoramic terrace is included in the standard ticket, so you might as well enjoy it!
The Historium Tower
You’ll have to pay an extra 7 € to access the Historium Tower, which is located right by the Historium. The tower is 35 meters (115 ft) high, and offers a 360-degree view of the city’s historical centre. But you’ll have to earn it and climb 145 steps to get to the viewing platform, which is perched 26 meters (85 ft) above the ground.
Be warned: the stairway and the viewing platform are quite narrow. If you’re afraid of heights or claustrophobic, you might want to pass!
Children under 14 are not allowed to visit the Historium Tower.
The Historium Virtual Reality: a virtual tour of Medieval Bruges
Visitors are invited to step in a virtual reality booth where they can travel back in time and spend 8 minutes in Medieval Bruges.
As Captain Ulysses is quite the beer lover, he most definitely enjoyed the Duvelorium, a bar sponsored by beer brand Duvel and housed within the Historium.
As is to be expected, the drinks are quite expensive but feel free to drop by, if only to have a look. The interior design is gorgeous. Captain Ulysses particularly enjoyed the chandelier made of empty beer bottles.
The Historium is located on the Market Place, in the very centre of the city. It is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Final admission is at 5pm, one hour before closing time.
Visitors are free to chose between 3 different types of tickets:
The Explorer Ticket gives acess to the Historium Story and the Historium Exhibition. Prices are:
- €14 for adults
- €10 for students
- €7,50 for children aged 3 to 12
- Free admission for children under 3
The Time Traveller Ticket gives access to the Historium Story, the Historium Exhibition and the Historium Virtual Reality (children must be over 6). Prices are:
- €17,50 for adults
- €13,50 for students
- €11 for children aged 6 to 12
The Thirsty Time Traveller Ticket gives access to the Historium Story, the Historium Exhibition and the Historium Virtual Reality (children must be over 6), as well as a drink in the Duvelorium. Prices are:
- €19,50 for adults
- €15,50 for students
- €13 for children aged 6 to 12
To avoid queuing, the Captain recommends booking your tickets online.
If this tour has whetted your appetite, feel free to have a look at the Captain’s suggestions of restaurants in Bruges. And if you’re looking for more tours and activities in Flanders, check out the Captain’s articles: on Bruges Princely Beguinage, Bruges Beer Experience. and Ghent’s waterways.
If your looking for a hotel in Bruges, Captain Ulysses highly recommends you to check out Booking.com. From cheap accommodation to luxury hotels, you’ll find a wide selection of options. If your budget is a little tight, the Captain recommends Hotel ‘t Putje: the rooms are a bit simple but the staff is lovely and the localisation is great. However, if you want to stay in a luxurious hotel, be sure to check Heritage Hotel.
As far as skip-the-line tickets and attractions are concerned, Captain Ulysses recommends checking out the websites Tiqets and GetYourGuide. Guided tours, cruises, skip-the-line tickets, unique activities … here’s plenty to chose from!
A lot of visitors travel to Bruges from Amsterdam or Brussels. If that’s your case, you can easily book your transfer from Amsterdam here. You can also opt for a guided day tour: from Amsterdam or from Brussels.
Bruges is a rather small city that is quite easy to explore on foot. The city centre is actually a pedestrian area. If you don’t like walking or if you’re tired of your long day wandering the city, you can also opt for a guided rickshaw tour!
If you are planning on renting a car in Belgium, Captain Ulysses suggest having a look at the website Rentalcars,which compares countless offers to find the best deal (Hertz, Europcar, Avis…).
If you’re planning on flying to Bruges, the Captain recommends that you check Skyscanner, an online comparator which is perfect for finding the best prices If your dates are flexible , you can even compare prices over several weeks to find the best option. Bruges is also easily accessible by train and bus. To book your tickets, we highly recommend Trainline, which integrates the offer of 207 train and bus companies in 44 countries.
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