Hughes gazed at the stately figures, the soothing reflection entered his mind that the day could not be far distant when his body would be mouldering in the dust beside theirs, and that the surcease from sorrow for which his heart craved would then be also his portion… (from Bruges-La-Morte)
The church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) was high on my list of sites I wanted to see in Brugge but it was closed during miday and couldn’t see it. When we returned later in the evening it was closed again.
So, we missed all the art treasures that I’ve read about, especially “Madonna and Child” by Michelangelo. We took some pictures of the exterior, te 122 meter high bell tower is impressive anyway and I guess the view must be great from up there but later we went up to Belofort so we didn’t care.
At the back side of the church is a picturesque small bridge from where we had a different view of the church before we walked towards some museums of the city.
Hughes quitted Notre-Dame in mood more oppressed by melancholy than that which had weighed upon him on entering it. (from Bruges-La-Morte)
The Church of Our Lady dates mainly from the 13th to the late 15th century. Its tower, at just over 122 metres (400 ft) in height and is the tallest structure in the city and the second tallest brickwork tower in the world. The church is also famous for its art treasures: paintings, wood sculptures and especially, the Madonna and Child by Michelangelo. It is also home to the tombs of Charles the Bold and Mary of Burgundy. - Very impressive.
Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 12:30 am and 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am to 12:30 am and 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm
Sunday: 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm
Church and Madonna with Child Alter: Free
Chapel of Charles and Mary and Museum
The church was undergoing extensive restoration on the day of our visit (March 2013) and so we saw very little of it but it is certainly impressive in the sheer size of its tower which is 400 feet high.
It was built between 1290 and 1549 and if you look carefully you will see it is a mix of different styles.
Flanked by a tower of 118 meters high, the church of Our Lady of the thirteenth century, houses a unique art piece, the marble of Michelangelo with the child (1504), the only work that was located outside Italy during his lifetime artist.
Flanqueada por una torre de 118 metros de altura, la iglesia de nuestra señora del siglo XIII, alberga una pieza de arte excepcional, el marmol de Miguel Angel con el niño (1504), la única obra que se ubicó fuera de Italia en vida del artista.
The Church of Our Lady is most famous for being the home of Michelangelo's sculpture Madonna and Child but it has a lot to offer the visitor besides.
The church was started in 1220 and took over 200 years to complete and as such incorporates a variety of different building styles, going from plain simplicity to lavish embellishment in just a few steps.
The church is divided into a small part which you can see for free and the rest (including the Michelangelo sculpture) for which you pay a fee of €4 to enter the 'museum'.
Inside the museum area you will also find the bronze toms of Charles the Bold and his daughter, Mary of Burgundy.
“We went next to the Church of Notre Dame, which is finer than the Cathedral externally, but less impressive within. Here we were shown the tombs of Charles the Bold and Marie his daughter. But few tombs are more interesting for the thoughts and recollections which they call forth. Louis XV, upon seeing them in 1745, exclaimed, ‘Behold the cradle of all former wars!’ ”
— from “Journal of a Tour in the Netherlands in the Autumn of 1815” by Robert Southey (1774-1843, English poet)
In the choir of the Welcome Church of Our Lady are the splendid tombs of Mary, Duchess of Burgundy (1457-1482) and her father Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1433-1477).
Duchess Mary ruled the Low Countries at the end of the 15th century. She died in Bruges in 1482 after she fell from her horse while hunting in the environs of Bruges. Charles the Bold died in 1477 at the Battle of Nancy, in France.
In 1550 the duke’s of were brought to Brugge and entombed next to his daughter’s. Mary’s tomb is decorated in late Gothic style and Charles’s is decorated in the early Renaissance style.
“There are in Bruges a great number of churches — all with bells — and some very lovely, bright little pictures by Van Eyck. There was also an English pension to which we had agreed to go. Conrad liked to be amongst English people when abroad. … Bruges is also very relaxing: except at night it is difficult not to sleep.”
—from “Joseph Conrad: A Personal Remembrance” 1924 by Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939)
A SIGHT TO BEHOLD To the right of the main altar is Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. Called the Madonna of Brugge, it was completed in 1504. It is thought that the work was meant for an altar in Siena, Italy. The oval face of the Madonna resembles that of the artist’s more well-known work, the Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. The completion of this work came on the heels of the Pietà, which he finished in 1500 at the age of 25.
It is Michelangelo’s only sculpture to leave Italy in his lifetime. It was bought by two wealthy cloth merchants from Brugge, Jan and Alexander Moscroen, for 4,000 florin.
The sculpture has been removed from the Church of Our Lady on two occasions, both under distressful circumstances. In 1794 when French Revolutionary forces overran the Austrian Netherlands, citizens of Brugge were ordered to ship it and other works of art to Paris. Following Napoleon’s 1815 defeat at Waterloo in Belgium, it was returned. The second time it left the church was in 1944. As German soldiers retreated, they took it to Germany encased in mattresses in a truck. It was discovered two years later; again, it was returned.
“You should see us, sitting in our parlour at Bruges on Sunday morning, awaiting in awe the result of my audacity in sending my card to a priest before eight in the morning; the messenger came and announced that ‘Monsieur l’Abbi aura I'honneur de se presenter chez Mons. Howe dans un quart d’heure;’ this was some comfort.”
— from a 27.August.1843 letter to Charles Sumner from Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876), husband to Julia Ward Howe
The ribbed vaulting of the Welcome Church of Our Lady shows its Gothic roots (see photo #1).
The tops of the columns in the nave of are decorated with the 12 Apostles (see photos #2 & #3).
The intricate wooden pulpit was carved by hand by an 18th-century artist from Brugge (see photo #4).
The stained glass windows are marvelous (see photo #5).
“After mass, the Belgian soldiers marched in by beat of drum to a mass of their own. Never did I hear anything so dizzying, so terrific, so terrible as the sound—no fife or other instrument to attemper it. It could not be imitated in a theatre, for no theatre could give the dreadful reverberation, which the arches here produced on every side.”
— from “Journal of a Tour in the Netherlands in the Autumn of 1815” by Robert Southey (1774-1843, an English poet)
The Welcome Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, in Flemish) is a Roman Catholic parish church built between the 13th and 15th centuries. Because of the drawn out building schedule, the church is a mix of several architectural styles, from late the Romanesque style to the Scheldt-Gothic style and the French Gothic style. An 18th-century renovation transformed the church into the contemporary style. Then at the turn of the 20th century the church was renovated again; this time to its original Medieval styles.
The most striking feature of the church is certainly the spire (see photo #3), which can be seen from miles around. It is the tallest sight on Brugge’s skyline. Begun in the middle of the 13th century, the spire is the second highest church tower in Belgium. The cathedral at Antwerp has highest spire, 123 meters. An enormous mass of bricks was used for the tower. It looks as if it was built for eternity.
A charming little garden is to one side of the church (see photo #4).
We went into the Welcome Church of Our Lady for the primary purpose of seeing Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child sculpture, one only a few works by Michelangelo that left Italy. See my separate tip on the sculpture for photos and details.
Once inside, we took a look at this Gothic church that was begun in 1220 and took 200 years to complete. It has a 400 foot tall spire that stands high above Bruges and can be seen from all around. Inside it has a black and white décor – white walls, black/white tiles, white columns and ceiling. Even the chapel that the Michelangelo is displayed in is a basic monotone look. The choir has paintings by Pieter Pourbus and the tombs of Charles the Bold and his daughter, Mary.
An interesting feature in the church is the part of the church that has a glass floor so you can see the underground level, which has stone segments and frescoes painted on the stones. This is near the tombs of Charles the Bold.
There is a €4 fee to enter the church. The church is open daily. While we were visiting the church was being renovated and was temporarily closed in the early part of the day, despite advertised opening times. Fortunately it opened up in the afternoon and we were able to get in.
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (The Church of our Lady) has a mighty brick spire which is the tallest landmark in Brugge. Inside there are some wonderful carvings, paintings and statues. It is primarily famous for being the home of the marble Madonna and Child (1504) by Michaelangelo. This was originally intended for Siena Cathedral and is the only one of the sculptor's works to have travelled outside Italy during his lifetime. It was brought to Brugge by a Flemish merchant, Jan Van Moeskroen.
Opening times; Tues - Sat 9.30am - 12.30pm and 1.30pm - 5pm
Sun 1.30pm - 5pm
Admisson to part of the Church is free but there is a fee payable to see the part containing the Madonna and Child.
Again a stunning cathedral in Europe .... the special thing about this cathedral is that it has the ONLY Michelangelo sculpture ever to leave Italy - the Madonna and Child - brought here in 1506 by a wealthy Bruge merchant Jan van Mouskroen ... the marble staue was made in 1504 by the great artist. Just this statue is worth the visit to Bruges, but this cathedral also has the tombs of Charles the Bold and his daughter Mary of Burgundy. Admission to the tombs is 2 Euro's but the Michelangelo can be seen for free ... also in the back of the cathedral, the heart of Phillip I of Spain... the rest of his body is in Spain but his heart is here in a glass, and gold case. One of the special places in all of Europe !!!!
You're probably aware that the Michaelangelo staute, Madonna and Child, is the only one to have left Italy during his lifetime. But I think the more interesting story is that the statue was stolen and went missing for over 100 years until it was found after WWII among the artifacts stolen by the Nazis and was then returned to the church. I think there are a few versions of this story.
Entry to the church is fee. Silence and removal of hats are required.
You cannot get very up close to the statue since it's cordoned off by about 15 feet.
The Church of Our Lady is the highest tower in the city at approximately 122 meters . It attracts most visitors because of its medieval character and the important works of art that can be admired here.It took two centuries (13th-15th) to build the church.
The church is likely BEST known for the Madonna that is on display here...the ONLY Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime. The Madonna of Bruges is a marble sculpture of Mary with the baby Jesus.
As well...In the choir of the church are the marvelously decorated tombstones of Mary of Burgundy and her father Charles the Bold. Duchess Mary reigned over the Low Countries in the last part of the 15th century and died in Brugge in 1482 after she fell from her horse during a hunting trip. Her father had died in 1477 in Nancy, France. In 1550 the remains of Charles the Bold were brought to Brugge and buried next to those of his daughter Mary.
Like most medieval cities, Brugge has an abundance of beautiful churches. You can see their tall steeples and spires from all over the city. The church pictures here is the Vrouwekerk or The Church of Our Lady. Its construction started in 1220 and it was not completed for almost 200 years. Mark and I wanted to see inside this church and tried to find an entrance. There were several signs and several blocked doors leaving us unable to find an entrance. Much to our dismay we were unable to find an open entrance and were unable to view Michelangelo's Madonna and Child statue which is located inside the church.