Retaining the mysteries of the Middle Ages and unashamedly exuberant, Bruges has been an international metropolis for centuries. Breathtakingly beautiful and picture postcard perfect, the city is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO and testifies to a past steeped in history. The city was already included in the circuit of the Flemish and French cloth fairs at the beginning of the 13th century, but when the old system of fairs broke down the entrepreneurs of Bruges innovated. During the Golden age, Bruges had a strategic location at the crossroads of the northern Hanseatic League trade and the southern trade routes. The city eagerly welcomed foreign traders, most notably the Portuguese traders selling pepper and other spices.