Churches / Museums / Parks, Brugge
Bruges was named "Cultural Capital of Europe" in 2002 and it is not difficult to see why. This is a city that pays homage to the ARTS (albeit to attract tourist dollars) . You'll see two operas within the city, perfectly preserved olde buildings, locals practicing ancient arts like lace making and emboidery, good arts exhibitions ( there was a Dali and Rodin Exhibition when I was there) and street buskers everywhere.
Picture: This busker gallantly kissed the hand of this lady after she gave him a token sum for his performance.
The Jerusalem Church is odd in that it remains intact in its original form from the 14th century when the Adorni family, merchants from Genoa, Italy settled in the area and built it and it remains privately owned by their descendants till this day. Copied from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem it is a morbid experience resplendent with a faux tomb of Christ as well as the original owners’ personal and quite ornate burial site. Ornate stained glass windows from the late 1400s make it well worth the pleasant walk out there.
Queen Astrid was a Swedish Princess who married into the Belgian Royal family in 1926 when she married Crown Prince Leopold...the son of King Albert the 1st of Belgium....who led the Belgians against the German armies during the First World War...Astrid became the most popular queen in Belgian history and long story short was tragically killed in a vehicle accident in Switzerland in 1935...
Soon after her death this park was named after her...early in the parks history it was known as Hof der Recollete" (Garden of the Recollets) or the Franciscan garden.
This lovely little gem is tucked away in the center of Brugges...and is an English Garden design...thick foliage around the perimeter is meant to isolate the park...you really don't even know that you're in the middle of a fairly large bustling city..
Garden architect Edigius Rosseels was hired to complete this project on land that was once was owned by the Friar Minors who had settled in Brugges around 1221.The land grant to the Friars was about the year 1226....they originally built a convent on the land...
As I was visiting during mid April the gardens were not obviously in full bloom but it was certainly a peaceful setting....worth taking a look....better yet...a great place to "hide out" and relax for a little while....
Now here finally is Queen Astrid Park. Queen Astrid died in 1935 in a car crash, after only having been queen for 2 years. She is the 'princess Diana' of the Belgians. She was beautiful, young, very popular and the Belgians still admire and honour her mythical quality.
Eventually the wanderer will come to one of Brugge's famed canals. Stop and savor the moment. Nothing is more elegant than a pretty blue sky with puffy clouds, dramatic medieval architecture looming in the distance and a romantic waterway intertwined amongst the old buildings.
The Jerusalem church has preserved its original style almost completely, which is quite rare in Belgium. Furthermore, the church is still privately owned. The church belonged to the Adornes family, a family of merchants who came from Genoa in Italy to the 13th century Bruges. Their descendants still own the Jerusalem church today.
During the 14th century one of the members of the Adornes family had a chapel built. This prayer house was later extended and even rebuilt. The church which resulted from these transformations was finished by 1470. It is believed that the design was copied from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, which some of the members of the family had visited. The interior consists of a nave and a higher choir. In the middle of the church is the tomb of the Anselm Adornes and his wife (Vander Banck). Anselm died in 1483. The decoration is still quite remarkable, divers and yet coherent. The beautiful stained glass windows date from 1482 and 1560. Behind the lower altar is a small space which suggests the tomb of Christ.
There is a beautiful, ancient church in the outskirts of Bruges. On your way to see the windmills, you'll definitely see this church. It's interesting to note that this church is privately owned and preserved by the descendents of a family of merchants who came from Italy to the 13th century Bruges. Look out for the stained glass while you're there.
How to go there:Better to cycle there, it's located on the corner of the Balstraat, stijnstreuvelsstraat, Peperstraat & Jeruzalemstraat.
After St. Anne's church, this was our next stop. A place where the nuns of St. Augustin settled after being banished from England in the 17th century.
This is also where the remains of Tomas More are and where Guido Gezelle died in 1899.
The domed church was built in the 1st half of the 18th century, following the designs of Hendrik Pulinckx.
As I mention earlier, Jan Van Eyck's paintings are in the Groening Museum.
The one to really look out for is 'The Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele', which Van Eyck painted in 1436.
Check out the rich velvet folds of the coat and the subtle way in which it captures the light. It'll really blow your breath away..
The Abbey of the Dunes (Duinenabdij) at Koksijde (Coxyde) on the Belgian coast was founded in the 12th century and destroyed in 1560. After its destruction, the monks established themselves in a building on the Potterierei.
This 18th century abbey houses paintings, illuminated manuscripts and books and other religious works of art.
The Belfry is the vintage view point of Brgge. It's 83 metres and I don't know know how many stpes high... but trust me... they were many. Really enough of them to reach the top breathless. And then, once you see the views from there, you become breathless again, this time at the maazing beauty: the canals, the original plan of the town... everything's wonderful - and makes the effort worthwhile. A tip: go during lunchtime: there's far fewer people.
THE MINNEWATER. For most visitors the Minnewater and its lovely park are the entrance to the beautiful city of Bruges. The Minnewater is a canalized lake. From the bridge (1740) one can already enjoy a nice panoramic view over the town. Because of the idyllic surroundings it is mostly referred to as 'the lake of Love', the Dutch word 'Minne' meaning 'love'. Actually, the origins of the lake are less romantic. It was here that the coastal river 'Reie' entered the city. The river was later canalized and made to continue until the center of town. It is not sure where the name 'Minnewater' comes from. An explanation could be 'water van het gemeen', which could be translated as the 'common water'. The lake was used as a water reservoir, to keep the water of the canals at a constant level. Next to the lake is the Minnewater park, where sometimes in the summertime (rock) concerts are organized. One of the symbols of Bruges is the swan.
For most visitors the Minnewater and its lovely park are the entrance to the beautiful city of Bruges. The Minnewater is a canalized lake. From the bridge (1740) one can already enjoy a nice panoramic view over the town. Because of the idyllic surroundings it is mostly referred to as 'the lake of Love', the Dutch word 'Minne' meaning 'love'.
Actually, the origins of the lake are less romantic. It was here that the coastal river 'Reie' entered the city. The river was later canalized and made to continue until the center of town. It is not sure where the name 'Minnewater' comes from. An explanation could be 'water van het gemeen', which could be translated as the 'common water'. The lake was used as a water reservoir, to keep the water of the canals at a constant level. Next to the lake is the Minnewater park, where sometimes in the summertime (rock) concerts are organized.
One of the symbols of Bruges is the swan.
The Jerusalem church is privately owned, and is associated with the lace museum. Quite an unusual architecture, but the most interesting thing is that the bodies here, the original builders and the current owners, are all the Adornes family, those who operated the hotel we stayed at (and liked a lot).
In Potterierei, just under a mile from the old city centre
A quirky museum of all things medieval: sculpture, books and manuscripts, religious articles, paintings, furniture - pretty much anything, really. A baroque chapel is on-site as well.