Churches in Bruges, Belgium

Urlaub in Brügge 22. bis 25. Mai 2008

Burges holds several incredible churches that don’t seem to be as well known as what they should be. This may soon change  with the recent release of the Hollywood blockbuster, “The Monuments Men.” The George Clooney movie  not only sheds light on the Belgian towns of Bruges and Ghent, but the story revolves around the monument men struggling to find the single most important piece of art, the famous Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child sculpture that sits in Bruges Church of Our Lady. 

This piece of art is the only Michelangelo statue to leave Italy in Michelangelo’s lifetime and is today one of the few that can be seen outside Italy. Michelangelo worked on this sculpture in 1504 when he was also working on his famous statue of David.  Unfortunately, when we visited, (Spring, 2014) the church was going through the process of a renovation and was in a sad state of distress. We still were able to see the Madonna and Child, but it was the only part of the church worth seeing.  

I kicked myself for not watching the Monuments Men prior to going to Belgium, as I had no idea the movie was so much about this country. Still, it was fun to watch after returning and being able to point out all the places we had been and things we had seen. 

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Many people don’t realize that Michelangelo’s ‘Madonna and Child’ is in Bruges”Renaat Landuyt, mayor of Bruges.


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The second church in Bruges that is a must see is the Basilica of the Holy Blood. This church was built in 1150 by a crusader to house a vial of the drops of Christ’s blood that he brought back from Jerusalem. It is said that the old, dried blood suddenly turned to liquid, and it did this every Friday for the next two centuries. This relic turned Bruges into a pilgrimage hot spot for the next two centuries. In 1325, this phenomenon stopped and the blood has been dry ever since.  

This church is uniquely designed, as it is wedged between two other buildings. It has an upper and lower chapel and in order to get to the upper, you will walk up a winding curved circle hall to the entrance. It is truly a unique layout that I have never seen in any other church.  The lower chapel is Romanesque which is one of my favorite styles. The top chapel is full of bright, vibrant colors, as it was changed from its originally Romanesque to Neo-Gothic style in the 19th century. The church is shown in the background of my biking picture below. It is the building wedged in the corner of the two.

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Lower Romanesque Chapel
One of the corners of the Lower Romanesque Chapel


5 thoughts on “Churches in Bruges, Belgium


    You look like a regular local ring that bike. I haven’t seen Monuments Men but maybe I’ll watch it tonight! Maybe you should read Narcissi and Goldman. It would fit in with all your travels. Takes place in the Middle Ages just at the ending years of the black plague (but with plenty of examples of death, fear and scapegoating because of the lack of understanding about the cause of the plague) and beginning of the rebirth of new life. You know, the Renaissance , art and cities and the ending of the feudal system. Goldman reminds me of Spock living in a cloister and thinking deep thoughts all day. Narcissi wanders Europe experiencing life, death, sensuality etc. As the plague ends and cities begin, he finds himself at last as an apprentice to a master sculptor. He is driven to create a work and he isn’t sure at first what it is. He ends up after near death and old at the cloister with his childhood friend Goldman, who is now the man in charge. Goldman brings him back to heath and provides a studio for Narcissi to work in. Then at the end of his days he produces the most magnificent Madonna and Child sculpture. He realizes that what he has been searching for all his life was his own mother who died when he was young. (that’s why he grew up living in a cloister—-no mommy. that’s how he knew Goldman) He dies after this realization. The End . Now you don’t have to read the book. Ha! Lots of good reading ,even though you know the outline now. Best Regards, Petra


  2. ShakeyChica

    I really enjoyed the movie Monuments Men. It’s one of those movies that leave you pondering for hours after. I imagine visiting places like this, and seeing the real thing would have the same effect!


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