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The Colorful Historic City Center of Bruges, Part 2 of 2

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A thriving textile trade began in the 13th century, and for the next two centuries, Bruges experienced a golden age. Merchants from all over the world began to settle in Bruges, and in 1309, what is thought to be one of the world’s first stock exchanges was established.

By the 15th century, Bruges had reached its commercial peak, and its weavers were considered some of the finest in the world. When the Duke of Burgundy chose Bruges as one of his royal courts, a stream of high society flowed into the mercantile city. The population bulged to about 200,000 residents, even becoming a haven of choice for some of England’s exiled kings.

The Englishman, William Caxton, set up a printing press in Bruges in 1472 with Colard Mansion, a Flemish calligrapher, and produced one of the first books ever printed in the English language, “Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye,” or “A Collection of the Histories of Troy.” During its golden age, Bruges attracted many artists, and a group of painters known as the Flemish Primitives found inspiration in the city.

Near the end of the 15th century, Bruges’s golden age drew to a close. Over the next few centuries, Bruges became a forgotten relic of a past age, until the end of the 19th century, when an illustrated book appeared written by Belgian author Georges Rodenbach. The book showcased the postcard-perfect images of Bruges, which in turn prompted an influx of tourists.

Unfortunately, the Belgian coastline and its pretty seaside towns are extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels. As a result of climate change, some of the world’s most cherished cultural monuments, including the city of Bruges, may disappear beneath the sea.

In 2009, Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke of the solution to saving our beautiful planet. “The smartest way would be to stop the worsening of global warming by being vegan. It sounds very simple, but it is the best solution, the most effective, and the effect of it will be felt almost immediately.”

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