In a city as stunning as Bruges, we thought there are bound to be some pretty amazing churches, and we were not disappointed!
Our first church of the stay was Heilig-Bloedbasiliek, also known as the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Burg, the church isn’t the traditional type you usually find in the shape of a cross. Instead, it fits nicely into the corner of Burg square, with a subtle front. Once inside, you head up the stairs to one of the most decorated chapels I’ve visited – we’re talking full wallpaper and colour from floor to ceiling.
There’s plenty to soak up in this small church, but the biggest attraction is that this place is home to a vial which reportedly holds Jesus’ blood. Yes, the Jesus. Once you’ve spent some time in the chapel, there’s a treasury where you can see the reliquary used to carry the vial of blood in Bruges biggest annual parade, the Heilig-Bloedprocessie, for a mere €1.50. Downstairs you’ll find another chapel in complete contrast to the one upstairs.
One church I was really keen to visit was Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Brugge, which is home to Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child statue made in 1504. While this is an incredibly grand church, it feels more like a mix between an art gallery and a church. There was a small seated area, and lots of art pieces dotted around. I really liked the vaulted ceilings here, and the wall of thanks was touching. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Madonna and the Child as we’d just missed the opening times for the little section the statue is kept in, and although we planned to visit the next day before heading to Brussels we just ran out of time. I’ll definitely be coming back to this church to check out the statue and take some more photos.
I’m not the best map reader, and while trying to locate Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Brugge we stumbled upon Sint-Salvatorskathedraal. Not ones to refuse a look around a church, we popped our heads in to see what was going on, and to see if we could check out the grand, high tower! As we looked around, the church didn’t appear to hold the grandeur other churches of its size often do. The walls are quite bare, though the stained glass windows were impressive. As the sun shone in, we took a moment to sit and admire the surroundings. Facing the front, there was a modest statue of Jesus in front of a large plain wall, while behind was a remarkable organ. It feels somewhat wasted behind, though I suppose the sound is the main thing, not the view.
As we continued our tour of the church, we came into a small room where people were looking up. Not uncommon in a church, as the ceilings are often something to be admired. However, there was a tiny fact of there being no visible ceiling to admire. As I looked up, it was just a dark hole. A tour group came in and someone clever popped a 50c coin into a box behind us, and the hole was illuminated to show several stories of tower. Photos couldn’t do it any justice, and I couldn’t help but soak it up, ignoring the ache in my neck. Considering the church is free entry, it’s something cool to check out if you’re in the city.
Bruges certainly did not disappoint with the churches on offer. I’m sure there are a few more in the city, and I’d love to check them out next time I’m in the city.
- Usually churches are free to enter, so it’s a great way to see some art and fascinating architecture while saving pennies.
- Have a map!