With its wealth of attractive old buildings and its canals Bruges still retains a medieval air, more so possibly than anywhere else in Belgium. Anyone taking a walk through the slender streets or a boat trip on the canals falls instantly under its spell, enamored by the ambiance of what is for many the most charming of all the cities of Flanders. This together with its outstanding state of conservation makes Bruges a tourist destination almost with no rival in Europe. The style of the medieval brick houses is methodically distinguishing. Above many of the windows are lower-level shallow arches, equally characteristic of Bruges are the godshuizen, alms houses for the old and unwell paid for by the guilds or in some cases wealthy burghers.