“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
— Michelangelo (1475-1564)
As a tribute to Micheleangelo’s “Madonna and Child,” which can be seen at the Welcome Church of Our Lady (see my Brugge Things-to-Do Tip, “Welcome Church of Our Lady, Part III”), the exterior of some houses in Brugge are decorated with either a replica of that masterpiece (see photo #1) by the Italian genius, or with other sculptural variations of Virgin and Child.
This practice reminded me of the votive images of the Virgin and Child found throughout Rome.
A 17th century Madonna and Child (see photo #1) decorates the Baroque façade of Maison Curiale, the former rectory for the Beguinage parish at the Minnewater. An 1856 Madonna & Child (see photo #4) stands on the corner of the 17th century diephuis (deep house) at the corner of the Carthusian Nuns Street and Wollestraat.
Some house decorations are vocational not religious in nature. One house honors masons (see photo #5).
“In Bruges old images are still paramount, and an air of monastic life among the quiet goings-on of a thinly-peopled city is inexpressibly soothing; a pensive grace seems to be cast over all, even the very children.”
— an 1822 entry in the Journal of William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Much like Amsterdam, throughout Brugge many houses are decorated with what I have come to call plaques; but as in Amsterdam, I think that they are known as gable stones. These often amusing and colorful additions to building façades fascinated me throughout our day trip.
This practice dates from the Middle Ages, a time when many people were illiterate. To help guide these people, houses were identified by a stone plaque, which either carried a picture of the owner’s profession or a reference to the owner’s name. Keep your eyes peeled for them.
Subject matter ranged from various coats-of-arms (see photos #2 & #3) to the production of milk (see photo #4) to celestial images (see photo #1) and animals (see photo #5).
This fountain in t'Zand square was done in the 1980s and depicts several typical Flanders scenes and icons. There are cyclists and a Flanders landscape. In the photo you can see the fisherman and on the right four bathing women. They represent the cities of Brugge, Antwerp, Ghent and Kortrijk. It is a large and well done piece in the t'Zand Square, located about a kilometer southwest of Markt Square.
How about this SHRINE?
So wonderful a work of Art........
Explore all Brugge's buildings inside and outside, front and back (which is possible by making boat-trips).....
AND....DON'T FORGET TO HAVE A LOOK at my TRAVELOGUES, here in this BRUGGE page, but also at my BELGIUM page!! THOSE ARE THE PLACES where you can see how to experience BRUGGE to the full!
ENTER CHURCHES, CATHEDRALS, TOWNHALLS and every building you are allowed to enter.....there is so much 'hidden' beauty to be admired...........
It is often possible to have a GUIDED tour which adds so much more to the joy!
Tourist Office can tell you all about this aspect of sightseeing.
Read as much as you can before you go.
Filip, our belgian friend, has been to Brugge many times. See his great pics on Filipdebont's Brugge page, one of the best Brugge pages on VT.
Dig into the history of Brugge, Flandres and the Lowlands before you go and while you're there. It will give you a new light on many things as the whole world has been influenced by the renaissance that started here as well as in Northern Italy.
Bruges and lace are two notions that are interconnected.
In the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, a lot of lace was produced in Flanders.
Bruges was very important in the lace industry.
So if you were looking for a typical Bruges souvenir : no problem maybe only the money ?
This is the type of lace they make in Bruges.
You have different kind of methods of making lace.
The lace industry became popular in Bruges in the 19th century.
At that time the production in Antwerp collapsed because people could get better paid jobs at the expanding harbour in Antwerp.
You need a lot of patience to make a small piece of lace.
Handmade lace is therefore very expensive.
You can imagine that the ones that are sold in the shops at low prices are machine made lace.
THE MEMLING MUSEUM. This museum is housed in the church of the medieval Hospital of St. John, and the Church of Our Lady. As its name suggests, this place contains as its primary attraction six works by the Flemish painter Hans Memling (c. 1430-1494).
The GRUUTHUSE MUSEUM is located in the 15th-century palace of the Lords of Gruuthuse and contains what is easily the most varied collection of applied or decorative art in Bruges (15th to 18th century). A large collection of sculpture, fine Bruges tapestries and furniture is accompanied by silverware, copper, tin, coins and medals, pottery and musical instruments.
The GROENINGE MUSEUM. A collection of several centuries (from the 14th to the 20th century) and focuses primarily on works by painters who lived and worked in Bruges. There are some works by Jan Van Eyck, the first and most important 'Flemish Primitive'. The masterpiece is 'The Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele', painted by Van Eyck in 1436.
I love to visit old cathedrals but I admit that sometimes I go in just to escape bad weather. It's a place to rest up, collect my thoughts, and make a plan of action. This one particular time as I sat waiting for the rain to subside, an organist began to practice and I was immediately engrossed with the resonating strains of the powerful instrument. From that day on, I have tried to find another practice session but have never been so lucky again.
Brugge 2002 : Wednesday 10th of april I visited the exposition : Jan van Eyck, early Netherlandish painting and southern Europe. Well if you are passing in Brugge, you 'should visit this magnificent exposition (from March 15th till June 30th 2002). Everywhere in the city you see billboards and flyers that show one of the most beautiful paintings of jan van Eyck : the man with the blue hat.
Brugge 2002 : for this special event, many old buildings have been restored, like this magnificent building (het Vrije) at the Burg. For many months this building was wrapped, it looked like one of the works of Christo, but now everybody can admire the restorations.