About Ambrogio, Spinolarei and Number 20

Golden Age

B&B Ambrogio guests stay in a district that has flourished since the 1200s. A thriving port developed around the Bruges Reien - that is what the canals around the city are called, named after the river Reie that used to flow through Bruges. Spinolarei and the present Spiegelrei across the water witnessed how the Reie was once the gateway for ships entering Bruges from the North Sea via the Zwin. They brought prosperity and wealth during what was known as Bruges's Golden Age. After all, from the 13th to the 15th century, Bruges was the hub between the Hanseatic cities of the Far North, England and Germany, and the most prominent trading cities in Italy, Spain and France. In fact, it was known as the economic capital of northwest Europe.

Spanish Commander

Initially, Spinolarei was called Houtbrekersdam, with its buildings dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Over the years, the street name changed to Spiegelrei, in reference to the mirror makers who lived around there in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the middle of the 17th century, after the death of the Spanish commander Ambrogio Spinola, the left Reie bank was given its current name : Spinolarei. Not by accident. Marquis Ambrogio Spinola, an Italian Commander from Genoa in Spanish service, occupied a large building between the current Jan van Eyck Square and Engelsestraat for many years. He fought in the 80-year war (1568- 1648) between Spain and the Netherlands and against Prince Maurice of Orange.


Spinolarei, as we know it today, runs from Biskajer Square, past Jan van Eyck Square via the Koningsbrug and ends at the Verversdijk on the corner with the Strobrug. In the 19th century, several Bruges houses were given a thorough overhaul. Extensive modifications to the window openings in the 18th-19th centuries meant that few retained their original appearance. As elsewhere in the city, those plastered, white facades conceal very old interiors. Inside, you will often discover real gems. In the 14th century, current house No 20 was known as “Ten Zwinaerde”. Research shows that a person named Jan Lotin took up residence there in 1363. He was a broker-hotelier for the Orientals - so called, because those merchants came from cities east of Flanders. His house accommodated a Verbrauchsort or inn, where the merchants of the Hanseatic League were allowed to drink their beer and Rhine wine for personal consumption. They could also stay the night and stock their wares there. Indeed, as a hub of international trade and with an annual fair on the agenda, the office in Bruges acted as their nerve centre. What was once a tavern for German merchants is now, seven centuries later, being transformed into a cosy luxury residence that exudes the atmosphere of the past, but with today's mod cons.

We hope that you will enjoy the atmosphere of yesteryear which this historic place exudes.