Bruges Historic Centre

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Bruges Historic Centre

Bruges' elevation is just 10 feet (3 meters) above the North Sea.

Christof Koepsel/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

If you've seen the 2008 black comedy "In Bruges," then you probably already know that this scenic Belgian town's stunning array of Gothic architecture makes a good backdrop for a dark buddy film about two hapless hit men who take in the sites while awaiting a call from their foul-mouthed, easily irritated boss. The center of the city (spelled "Bruges" in English and "Brugge" in Dutch) just so happens to be a charming medieval historic settlement that served as the launching point for Flemish primitive painting. The first mention of the city was in ninth century. The 401-foot (122-meter) Church of Our Lady is among the world's tallest brick buildings, as well as home to Michelangelo's "Madonna and Child," the only one of the artist's sculptures to leave Italy during his lifetime [sources: UNESCO, Codart].

The city's elevation just 10 feet (3 meters) above the North Sea leaves it susceptible to climate change-related increases in water levels [sources: IOP Science, Travel Journals].

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