Last year while on business in Brussels on the weekend, I visited the historic city of Bruges. Bruges is probably the biggest quite well-preserved and carefully revived medieval town in Europe. The local authorities put much attention so that new constructions or upgrades fit well into the historical city style (compare photo gallery >>>). I went there without any plan just to take a walk, sightsee, and take photos. (A train from Brussels reaches Bruges within one hour.)
To understand the city heritage, I took a one hour guided tour on a small touristic bus that starts and ends its tour at the main square. I was not planning to see any interiors. But one place drew my attention as I was listening to the audio. It was described as the most beautiful church in the city with relics of value inside. As it is located five minutes of walk from the main square I came back there after descending the bus. The church turned to be rather a big chapel with a status of minor basilica.
Yes, indeed, as I entered my only reaction was ‘Wow!’ Of beautiful interiors, I saw last year (including the most opulent rooms in the royal palace of Madrid) this one turned to be on a definite must-see list.
The Neo-Gothic interior of the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges
The Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges (Belgium) is famous for the venerated relic of the Holy Blood. But from the sightseeing point of view, it is a place of real architectural and artistic value. It was initially built in the XII century as the chapel of the residence of the Count of Flanders. The status of a minor basilica was awarded in 1923. The Basilica consists in fact of two chapels (the lower and the upper one) built within the residence of the Count of Flanders.
It is easy indeed not to see it from outside as the entrance facade does not look like it leads to a church. In fact, it is a small building in the top right corner of the Burg square. The building has a very decorative facade but … many buildings in Bruges look like that.
Both chapels were initially built in Romanesque style. The upper chapel was however transformed into the Gothic style at the end of the 15th century and once again on the Gothic revival architectural wave in XIX together with other major revival works in the whole historical city of Bruges.
A close up onto the main entrance facade and the front view of the interior