Brugge, as it is known in the native Dutch tongue, or Bruges, as it is often referred to by English and French speakers, was Flanders' most teeming port from the 13th to the 15th century. During this glory period, the city produced several of the most famous Flemish master painters: Jan Van Eyck, Hans Memling, and Gerard David all practiced their art in Brugge. However, in the mid-16th century, the Zwin river on which the city is located began to fill with silt, making trade impossible and causing a downturn in the fortunes of the city which would last for several centuries. Brugge remained in a sleepy state until the twentieth century, when an influx of tourists brought prosperity and growth.
Brugge has a population of 116,000; it is the largest commune in West-Vlaanderen province.
Assebroek, Dudzele, Koolkerke, Lissewege (Lisseweghe), Sint-Andries, Sint-Kruis, Sint-Michiels, and Zeebrugge are boroughs within the municipal district of Brugge.