Monday, February 14, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011--Touring Bruges

On our first full day in Bruges, we pulled out our trusty Rick Steves book and took the walking tour he recommends.

We started in Market Square (all roads here lead to Market Square) at the Bell Tower and then down a short street to Burg Square.  We entered the city hall and looked at a few of the historical paintings on display and then walked over to the Basilica of the Holy Blood.

post office in Market Square near road leading to Burg Square

city hall in Burg Square

There are two chapels, a lower one which is stark and largely unadorned, and then an upper one that is ornate, larger, and the place where priests once a week display Christ's blood in a crystal cylinder.  We saw it and it looked awfully fresh--hmm, some chicanery here?

Basilica of the Holy Blood
lower chapel
upper chapel

guarding the holy blood, but for a price

We then walked through an alley at the side of the city hall and came out over a small bridge and angled over to a small square (Huidevettersplein) of restaurants.  Passing through this place, we came to the really picturesque view of canals and bridges.

Huidevettersplein Square
canal with bell tower in distance

canal with tree

canal and tower of Gruuthuse Museum

We walked up to the Groeninge Museum, the main museum in town that features ancient Flemish works, but it was closed.  On we went to the Church of Our Lady that features Michelangelo's Madonna and Child, the only work of his to leave Italy during his life.  It's an early piece, but still beautiful.  Mary found the church itself rather dark (yes) and dour (yes, yes).

Michelangelo's Madonna and Child

altar of Church of Our Lady

iconography that warmed Mary's heart
We then moved up to Walplein Square, a tiny plaza where there was a restaurant, tourist shop, and the De Halve Maan Brewery.  From there we traveled up to Begijnhof, an enclave of houses built for a lay order of pious women.  Today single, religious women reside here along with some Benedictine nuns.  There is a small chapel on the grounds.

Begijnhof houses

Beijnhof chapel

From there we walked a short distance to Minnewater (Water of Love), a beautiful little park and lake with swans.
Minnewater banks and lake
We headed back to our B & B for a brief rest and then set out in yet another direction for our own walking tour.  Unlike Paris, we never got lost, and the maps actually made sense.  Imagine that!!

Van Eyck Square

wild swan but not at Coole

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