The connection with the sea runs like a thread through the history of Bruges and its port. Of old, the city had an international function as a port. Initially Bruges was linked with the North Sea by a natural waterway, by which the city became an authoritative trade and culture centre within Europe in the 13th and the 14th century.
However, because of the silting up of the waterway Bruges lost this prominent role. Even though there were still maritime possibilities via the canal Ostend-Bruges-Ghent, the city was directly linked with the sea again only around 1900 by digging the 'Baudouin canal' towards the new port at the coast.
Yet, the destructions made by the world wars did not allow Zeebrugge to get on its way. Since 1985 the cargo traffic has received new impulses through the large-scale expansion of the port. Since 2000, the globalization has led to the big breakthrough of Zeebrugge on the international level.