Despite its quaint, chocolate-box appearance, there is some edginess bubbling beneath the surface of Bruges. So, if you need some darkness to balance the prettiness of the town, here are a few ideas:
Retsin's Lucifernum – if you're at a loose end in Bruges on a Sunday night between 8-11pm, you may want to head to this ultra-secretive venue. You'll need to knock on the door before you're allowed in by the house vampire, and that's where your visit of alternative Bruges begins. It's hard to describe, it's a museum, a bar, a music venue all completely whacky and slightly creepy. You'll either love it or hate it, but you won't be indifferent to it.
The Torture Museum – this museum is located in one of the oldest prisons in Europe, De Oude Steen. Though not the biggest of museums, there is still room for more than a hundred instruments of torture, displayed in chronological order. So, if you find thumbscrews and racks and other devices of execution and pain fascinating, or just want to remind yourself of how lucky you are to have been born in this century, this is the perfect place for you.
Relic of the Holy blood – see the relic, a piece of cloth stained with what is believed to be the blood of Christ, at the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Even better, visit Bruges on 25th May, Ascension day, to experience the Procession of the Blood. This is a 718 year-old tradition, during which the relic is carried through the streets by the Bishop of Bruges. Locals dress up in costumes and act out biblical scenes and a historic re-enactment of the relic's arrival in the city, as it is paraded through town.