On a rainy morning in the middle of August, I found Hof Sebrechts down a beautiful street in very residential Bruges. This little green gem does not hide behind walls and gates, but that’s where you’ll find its quiet path, deep shade on a hot day, and flower beds filled with spring color. Hof Sebrechts looks as though at one time it was the courtyard gardens for the homes built around it. But I suspect the park was always public greenway—and quite probably larger than it is today, encroached upon by urban sprawl in say, the year 1200.Hof Sebrechts is a quiet park, leafy and intimate, with tall trees and a winding path that circles once. Another lane leads out the back, and a small path to a children’s playground within a grove. Bruges is an old city, built close together (and close to the ground—I’ve never seen such small homes, like dollhouses!), and so its residents like their green space. Hof Sebrechts is one of ten parks in tiny Bruges.
I write in the European City Parks introduction that parks are not all the same, each has at least one unique quality, but otherwise their uses can pretty much be described by most people in terms such as “get in, find a bench or soft grass patch, and chill.” Hof Sebrechts is all about “park basics.” Even as a chill park, there’s enough open space to use it for recreation. And its uniqueness? You feel set down in a Gothic age, perhaps waiting for your secret love to appear above a wall, a quick diversion from parental eyes, where she’ll toss down a scented note or her handkerchief for your excitement…and to entice. Romance can bloom in this intimate setting.
Of course, if romance isn’t happening for you (or for your imagination), you can always toss a ball to one of the local mutts that wander from their keepers. I met Butch at Hof Sebrechts, and he was kind enough to lick and slobber my hand after a few warning sniffs.
Food and Drinks in Hof Sebrechts
In a phrase: bring your own. While the park is a perfect spot for a quiet picnic, you’ll want to stop at a supermarket (Bruges has quite a few, actually, just where you wouldn’t expect a market to pop up) for bread, cheese, wine, perhaps a wheel of meat. Unlike the “cute asses and Frisbee” Astridpark, Hof Sebrechts is off the path from cafés and little food shops.
(read more about Hof Sebrechts’ highlights here)