Monday, August 10, 2015

Bruges, Belgium..."The Venice of the North"

Bruges is located in the northwest corner of Belgium. During the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance Bruges was a wealthy city of merchants. At one time it may have been the wealthiest city in Europe. It was a very busy port until the estuary that led to the sea silted up, sometime in the 16th century as I remember. Recently(1907) a new port was created for Bruges, called ZeeBruges. This has apparently revitalized trade and the city's economy. We were able to spend a day there; it was very enjoyable despite off and on again rain. The first thing we did was to get on a tour boat and view the city from the canals.

Below are some windows and doors.

The Bruges residents are very proud of their beers. I love this brewery sign.

The message board below was outside a small pub.

Below are several examples of art on the corners of buildings.

Below is a photo of the Provinciaal Hof and the square.

Below is an emblem above an archway. The second photo is of some lovely old buildings.

The next photo is a side exterior view of the Church of Our Lady, built over the 13th through 15th centuries. The photo was taken from our canal boat.The second photo shows the tower of this church.

Michelangelo, between 1501-1504, sculpted the Madonna and Child. This sculpture was purchased from Michelangelo by Giovanni and Alessandro Moscheroni, wealthy Bruges cloth merchants, for 4000 florins. This was the only sculpture of Michelangelo's to leave Italy in his lifetime. In 1514 they donated it to the Church of Our Lady. It was removed by French Revolutionaries in 1794 and sent to Paris. After Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815 it was returned to the Church of Our Lady. In 1944, as the Allies were closing in, the Nazis took it to Austria were they stored it in a salt mine. President Roosevelt established a commission to try and get back all the art work stolen by the Nazis. They found the statue in the salt mine and restored it to the Church of Our Lady November 12, 1945. The photo below is of the statue being removed from the salt mine.  The movie "The Monuments Men", released in 2014, is about these efforts.

The two photos below are of the Madonna and Child. They have been behind bullet proof glass since the Pieta was shot by some nut in 1972. You also can't get closer than 15 feet. I really like it; Mary seems like a real woman and Jesus is a real baby.

There are two other sculptures in this church that we really liked. I don't know the artists' names. The first one is of Mary and the second one is Joseph and Jesus as a boy.

The last photo shows some tulip beds in a park.

Since we were in Belgium we thought we should have mussels for lunch; unfortunately the restaurateurs saw tourists as big money. We declined to pay 30 euros each for mussels. We also didn't get any Belgian chocolate while we were there. 30 to 60 euros per kilo seemed just a tad steep. Despite those things Bruge was well worth a visit.


  1. This is certainly a lot more beautiful than the impression I got from the Colin Farrell movie, In Bruges.