Bruges, Belgium

A typical canal scene with the Bruges Belfry visible in the skyline, Bruges, Belgium

A typical canal scene with the Bruges Belfry visible in the skyline, Bruges, Belgium

 

Bruges, Belgium, is one of Europe’s best preserved cities.  It was described by UNESCO as “an outstanding example of medieval historic settlement” when Bruges was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2000.  It is located about 60 miles (100 km) west of Antwerp.  Bruges is the capital of West Flanders and was a former financial and trade center of the Hanseatic League.  Bruges grew to prominence in the 13th and 14th centuries, but lost its important role to nearby Antwerp when its link to the North Sea filled with silt.  Nicknamed the “Venice of the North”, the town is crisscrossed by canals that are in turn decorated with graceful swans bobbing in the wake of excursion boats.  Much of the Old Town is pedestrian-only, which made it very easy to explore the city on foot.

 

Church of Our Lady, constructed entirely of local bricks, dates mainly from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries with a tower rising 401 feet (122 meters) and is the tallest structure in the city, Bruges, Belgium

Church of Our Lady, constructed entirely of local bricks, dates mainly from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries with a tower rising 401 feet (122 meters) and is the tallest structure in the city, Bruges, Belgium

 

 

Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child in the Church of Our Lady was the only sculpture by Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime, Bruges, Belgium

Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child in the Church of Our Lady was the only sculpture by Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime, Bruges, Belgium

 

“The Madonna of Bruges is a marble sculpture by Michelangelo of Mary with the Child Jesus. Michelangelo’s depiction of the Madonna and Child differs significantly from earlier representations of the same subject, which tended to feature a pious Virgin smiling down on an infant held in her arms.  Instead, Jesus stands upright, almost unsupported, only loosely restrained by Mary’s left hand, and appears to be about to step away from his mother.  Meanwhile, Mary does not cling to her son or even look at him, but gazes down and away.  It is believed the work was originally intended for an altar piece…Madonna and Child shares certain similarities with Michelangelo’s Pieta, which was completed shortly before — mainly, the chiaroscuro effect and movement of the drapery.  The long, oval face of Mary is also reminiscent of the Pietà.  The work is also notable in that it was the only sculpture by Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime.  It was bought by Giovanni and Alessandro Moscheroni (Mouscron), from a family of wealthy cloth merchants in Bruges, then one of the leading commercial cities in Europe.  The sculpture was sold for 4,000 florin….[The sculpture was removed] in 1944, during World War II, with the retreat of German soldiers, who smuggled the sculpture to Germany enveloped in mattresses in a Red Cross truck.  It was discovered a year later in Altaussee/Austria and again returned.  It now sits in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium.  This is part of the fact-based movie The Monuments Men.” — Wikipedia

 

The tombs of the Duke of Burgundy and Mary of Burgundy in the Church of Our Lady, dating to approximately 1500 A.D., Bruges, Belgium

The tombs of the Duke of Burgundy and Mary of Burgundy in the Church of Our Lady, dating to approximately 1500 A.D., Bruges, Belgium

 

 

Before the summer tourists arrived en masse, it was very pleasant to stroll under the trees, along the canals, Bruges, Belgium

Before the summer tourists arrived en masse, it was very pleasant to stroll under the trees, along the canals, Bruges, Belgium

 

 

The brick residential architecture of the late 1800s became more decorative as seen in this residence from 1893, Bruges, Belgium

The brick residential architecture of the late 1800s became more decorative as seen in this residence from 1893, Bruges, Belgium

 

The most popular canal for photographs of Bruges – the Rozenhoedkaai Canal -- and a view of the Bruges Belfry, Bruges, Belgium

The most popular canal for photographs of Bruges – the Rozenhoedkaai Canal — and a view of the Bruges Belfry, Bruges, Belgium

 

“In the last half of the 19th century, Bruges became one of the world’s first tourist destinations attracting wealthy British and French tourists.  By 1909 it had in operation an association called ‘Bruges Forward: Society to Improve Tourism.’  After 1965 the original medieval city experienced a renaissance. Restorations of residential and commercial structures, historic monuments, and churches generated a surge in tourism and economic activity in the ancient downtown area.  International tourism has boomed, and new efforts have resulted in Bruges being designated ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 2002.  It attracts some 2 million tourists annually.Wikipedia

 

Bruges Stadhuis (Town Hall), constructed between 1376 and 1420 in the Gothic style on the Burg Square, with statues (now reproductions) of the counts of Flanders filling 49 niches, Bruges, Belgium

Bruges Stadhuis (Town Hall), constructed between 1376 and 1420 in the Gothic style on the Burg Square, with statues (now reproductions) of the counts of Flanders filling 49 niches, Bruges, Belgium

 

A close-up of the gilded annex to Bruges Stadhuis (Town Hall), Bruges, Belgium

A close-up of the gilded annex to Bruges Stadhuis (Town Hall), Bruges, Belgium

 

A residence built in 1654 with half-oval sculptural inlays on the brick facade, Bruges, Belgium

A residence built in 1654 with half-oval sculptural inlays on the brick facade, Bruges, Belgium

 

 

The Provincial Hof (Province Court), a Neogothical building (1787, replacing the former Waterhalle) on Grote Markt (the market place), is the former meeting place for the provincial government of West Flanders, Bruges, Belgium

The Provincial Hof (Province Court), a Neogothical building (1787, replacing the former Waterhalle) on Grote Markt (the market place), is the former meeting place for the provincial government of West Flanders, Bruges, Belgium

 

 

Minnewaterpark on the edge of Old Town where the broad Minnewater narrows to feed the city’s canals, Bruges, Belgium

Minnewaterpark on the edge of Old Town where the broad Minnewater narrows to feed the city’s canals, Bruges, Belgium

 

2 thoughts on “Bruges, Belgium

  1. Nice to see it…..this is the city we missed last summer when was too windy for our ship to get in and dock……we were very disappointed….now I know why.

    Go warriors! Game 7 is back in Oakland Monday night at 6 PT…game 6 was amazing last night.

    Myra

    Liked by 1 person

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