Since Brugge is a fantastic specimen of medieval architecture, this also means incredible churches and artwork. My fascination with the relationship between the church, art and the middle ages began when I lived in Italy. I had an incredible Italian Art History professor that made it come alive. Because patrons of the church were church officials and/or from the most prominent families, a large number of paintings from this period are found in churches as large frescoes and sculptures. (This also means you have portraits of prominent families being oddly featured as part of religious scenes.) So without further delay, some of the most fascinating churches in Brugge…
Church of Our Lady
This church has one of the only Michaelangelo sculptures to have left Italy during his lifetime. The sculpture is the big draw, but my favorite part was the above ground tombs in the chancel. Also, talk about medieval folks thinking that money bought holiness- the neighbor of this church had a bridge built over the church with a private chapel overlooking the altar so his family didn’t have to mix with the commoners. So fabulously medieval (and ridiculous)…
Basilica of the Holy Blood
This chapel contains a phial that reputedly contains Christ’s blood brought back from the Crusades.You can’t take pictures inside this church, so you will have to settle for outside shots only. But, when we were inside we got to see the blood phial placed atop a bright red pillow by the priest inside a gilded box.
St. Savior’s Cathedral
This one is the oldest parish church in Brugge and was my favorite (perhaps because it was the first one we went in). I loved that you could see the painstaking restoration that was very much in progress. Did I miss my calling? Maybe I was meant to sit on scaffolding for years recreating one painted halo.
Because I couldn’t read the signs, I could never figure out the name of this church. But when Danimal and I walked in we were shocked to see this incredibly modern neon art display alongside the traditional art and architecture of the church. I think it captured so much of what the church struggles with today as it tries to share its message in a changing society.
I wish I had more pictures of this church. It is rumored to be very different and based on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This church is also attached to the Lace Museum. Unfortunately, we easily found our way to the Lace Museum, but never found the way into the church. Unless you are over the moon obsessed with lace, I think you will probably agree that this is the worst museum in the history of museums. I don’t remember the last time I was that bored.
Yes, I realize I just did an entire post about old churches and art… my nerd flag is waving proudly right now. Poor Danimal finally requested that we not go in anymore old churches unless they were really cool. I plan to redeem myself tomorrow with a post about beer.