Brugge Belgium is a mis-mash, a comedy, a drama, an ongoing medieval play with the main characters brick, tile, timber, water, cobblestones, squares, shops, hotels and a weird seemingly confusing assembladge of people, municipal buildings, church buildings, artworks, horses, boats and us. But there’s order here and thats found in the nine Brugge Old City churches where one can escape into another quieter world away from the maddening, gawking, selfie, iPhoning, clip clopping crowd. We inspected, in solemnity and silence, six of the churches as I especially love the intricate architecture and the questioning as to just how they built this magnificent soaring structure back eight centuries ago.
The oldest church, St Giles built in 1258, is found away from the main town square where people seem to spend their time walking around in circles, sitting eating, drinking, soaking in and trying to understand the marvellous scene about them. Its the best of Rome’s squares here in one square. In 1258 at North West Cape, the aboriginal elder Yunupingu was teaching the young men of his tribe about the stars, the land, the Dreamtime and the Songlines. They had no need for building churches, for the written word, for that all led to people writing down their own version of events, as distinct from what they actually were. All the aboriginal stories were written in the stars, the land and nobody could lie about them until White Man came. Getting a bit high falutin their sonny boy. ‘Sorry Mum. Another slice of Aunty Eva’s Trifle’. Oh yes please dearie, and make sure its got a good heap of strawberries on top.
Saint Mary’s Church with the brick tower 122 metres high, has a statue in marble, chiselled, carved, crafted by Michelangelo. The only piece of his many works that left Italy in his lifetime. And incredibly, he carved it out of one piece of marble. In Australia, people get excited when the Greens announce that they are going to Ban Balloons. Jaysus!!!! This church, Saint Mary’s also has mausoleums or raised tombs. One lot of Mary of Burgundy and her dad Charles the Bold alongside each other. Poor Mary died in a riding accident aged 26. All about are marvellous but morbid darkish oil paintings, carvings, statues, about 12 confessional boxes, double sided one’s like we had at our Bedford Park St Peters Church where we had one set. My brother Daven snuck into the confessional with me one time, and just as I start my opening gambit of Bless me father for I have sinned, he, bloody Daven, starts tickling me. We both rolled out the door of the confessional giggling to find Father Portly standing glaring, hands on hips. Each of us got a round of the rosary and of the Stations of the Bloody Cross.
In the Gothic Style Town Hall, off to one side, you can see the crypt of Saint Basil a greek patriarch from 329-379 and above Basil, the Chapel of the Holy Blood. Legend has it, that Thiery of the Alsace brought back the Holy Blood from the 2nd Crusade and its sat residing in Brugge ever since. Once a year, the Holy Blood gets an outing into the fresh air to get a bit of vitamin D. They have a grand procession and theres the Holy Blood group, ‘H’ for holy. Holy sheet you say.
Then we found Saint Walburgha Church which has eight sets of double confessional boxes all ornately carved, more fantastic statues, paintings, ornate, embellished frames, a marble altar with large stained glass panels above reminding you in cartoon form, to be good. If not, there’s a bottomless pit out there where you could spend eternity in that drum of hot number two’s. Head first. The communion rail is in white marble all elaborately carved and through it all, the churches speak of untold wealth, opulence, grandiosity, that the priests, cardinals, bishops are all powerful as is the number one, God. Break it all down and basically, its all meant to intimidate the peasant and stop them running off with the silver chalice, the priests girlfriend, his cellar of French Burgundy and putting a hole in his Holy Water Tank. Yay.
We even trudged around the winding weaving Straats, my good foot soldier Susan alongside, to find ‘Jerusalem Church’, a privately built church come chapel come residence/mansion, come Scottish Lounge, gift shop and Museum. Started off by Anselem Adorne’s family in the 15th century, who was just so smitten with Jerusalem that he made a trip there way back when it was not safe to go anywhere. His family starting building in 1429 inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Today, the Count and Countess Maximilien de Limburg Stirum, we see several photos of the beaming Count and Countess both with horse teeth smiles, they the seventeenth generation of the family, to be in charge. The eighteenth generation of horse teeth foals are waiting in the wings. Anselem, was murdered in 1483 in Linlithgow now in England but back then, Linlithgow was the headquarters of the Scottish Kings. His body is interred in Linlithgow but his heart was carried back to the family church and its still there. If it only had some of that Holy Blood?. I love this historic absolutely boring stuff. But wait theres more. Anselem, born in 1424, married a Margriet van der Banck and she presented him with sixteen children. Sixteen. No wonder she died before him in 1480 aged fifty three. Its a very interesting small church with orchestra stalls up top where theres a soaring tower over, reaching up towards intergalactic space and/or God. Little nooks and crannies everywhere, secret doors, passageways and down below entered through a one metre high opening is a small crypt wherein somebody long dead continues to have a lie down.
Continuing wandering and stumbled the back lanes, the forgotten Straats, Leichardt like, we come upon Saint Anne’s Church, consecrated in 1621, known as the ‘Salon Church of Bruges’ because of its black and white rather sumptuous marble floor. On the whole back inside wall of church is a painting measuring 10.4 x 10.5 metres by Hendrik Herregouts. The artwork is in rather dark shades, sad, morbid and apparently shows, and no doubt it does, Christ as the Supreme Judge with the ‘Just’ rising towards the ‘Judge’ whilst team ‘Dammed’, me, are being crushed by monsters representing the Seven Deadly Sins. If you, yes you, do not know what the seven Deadly Sins are by now, then, you have no hope of escaping the monsters and that drum of Hot Number Two’s.
Our third and last Anselmus Hotel ‘free’ breakfast in Brugge, double yay as we will be pleased to leave this hotel, was the usual boiled egg scenario and it could have been pleasant as the breakfast room, three airy spaces the third set in the garden, all well lit with large windows, and overhead where we sat with the Glum Family, there’s a hipped glass roof. Magda and Rolly and or Ronny, the hotel proprietors come owners, tried hard to make the breakfast area pleasant whereas the rest of the Hotel rated 5/10. The Glum Family sitting just there, four of them, two fat, flabby, straight haired Adams Family stand-ins, seemingly brain dead women squat like a Ghost Busters target. One husband of the slim variety, still well built with a long straggly ponytail tied with rope, the other husband a man mountain of near two metres height and three axe handles width. His mother forgot to order a neck for him as his large bald pumpkin head is wedded to his broad shoulders and all four of them are as sour as a case of lemons. The women stare, in between using their backhoe sized hands to shovel food into their head cave then go get more. Then sit staring and not a word nor a grunt exchanged. Brr, its a chilling scene as we are off to the city centre for a cuppa whilst its all quiet in the Straats, Laneways and Squares of Brugge.
Come 1030 we are in a black Mercedies Taxi driven by Lewis Hamilton with Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass Multi Trumpets playing Boom Boom Music on his Appliance as he, Lewis, wizzes his taxi, Herb and us, about the backways, byways and little used car width cobblestoned lanes bypassing the main town square, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids and his girlfriends house to finally deliver us to Brugge Train Station our hearts in our mouths. ‘Ten Euro please’. We are on the way to Brussels. Ta Ta Brugge, we fell in love with you. I saw my first Tommy Hilfiger shop in Brugge. Get your bank managers approval to visit Brugge and especially Tommy’s shop.
Ooroo from Sue 😘 and Des 😇