Immediately after our arrival in Bruges, we set off to get a first impression of the city.
Bruges gained supra-regional importance in Europe as the center of the textile industry and long-distance trade. The small river Reie connects the city and the canal system directly with the sea.
One also maintained close trade relations with the German Hanseatic League.
Under the rule of the Dukes of Burgundy, Bruges became one of the wealthiest cities in Europe at that time. The Hundred Years’ War between England and France had as background the supremacy over Flanders.
In 1369, Bruges became part of the duchy of Burgundy and seat of the Burgundian dukes. The last Duke Charles the Bold had only one daughter as heir and was, therefore, looking for a husband for her. For months he negotiated in Trier with Emperor Frederick III about marriage with his son Maximilian of Habsburg. But Charles the Bold wanted the royal crown as his reward.
Frederick could not respond to this demand, as he shied away from the resulting conflict with King Louis XI of France. Frederick and Maximilian left Trier in a cloak-and-dagger operation and returned to Austria.
A short time later, Duke Charles the Bold lost his life in the Battle of Nancy. Maximilian took the opportunity and traveled to Bruges to marry Mary of Burgundy. But in Cologne, he ran out of money, and his future mother-in-law had to release him and his entourage.
Following Maximilian and Maria married and Flanders became part of the Habsburg dynasty. 5 years later, Maria died in a hunting accident. However, she remained Maximilian’s great love throughout his life.
Shortly before her death, she declared her four-year-old son Philipp a Duke. Thus he also became the heir of the Duchy of Burgundy. After another battle with the King of France, one split the Duchy of Burgundy between King Louis XI and Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg.
In 1988 Maximilian, who had already become Roman-German king, was imprisoned in Bruges for five months when he wanted to introduce a new tax. Only when his father sent an army was he released again. Those responsible for the rebellion were tortured and beheaded before Maximilian’s eyes at the Grote Markt.
It was only after the defeat of the cities of Ypres, Ghent, and Bruges, which rebelled with the support of the French king, in 1493 that Maximilian was able to regain guardianship of his son, who was held a prisoner in Ghent.
On our various journeys, we have already got to know some of Maximilian’s places of activity.
These include the Imperial Palace and the Golden Roof in Innsbruck, as well as the Court Church with the cenotaph, erected in his honor. Furthermore, the castle in Wels where he died, as well as his residence, the castle in Wiener Neustadt. Here he is buried in the chapel of St. George.
We start our exploration tour of the city of Bruges at Jan van Eyck Square, where in the past the ships landed and were unloaded.
The Burghers’ Lodge, Poorterslodge, with its late Gothic stone tower dominates the square. Once it was a meeting place for the society of the leading burghers ( poorters) of Bruges.
Over time, it houses a training center for the fencing club, an art academy, as well as a branch of the National Archives. More recently it serves as exhibition space for contemporary art.
Diagonally opposite this in a northerly direction, one finds the Old Tollhouse with the marvelous coat of arms over the entrance.
We continue west along Academiestraat and come across Vlamingstraat. Directly in front of us now lies the former Oude Beursplein (old stock exchange square).In the buildings around the square were once the international trading branches.
One of the buildings now houses the Friet Museum. Here it’s all about potato.
Directly to the right is the house of the Van der Beurze family, built in 1246. It was the first stock exchange in the world.
We follow the Vlamingstraat in a southerly direction until we reach the market square, the Grote Markt, with Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck Memorial in the center.
Breydel, by profession butcher and the weaver de Cornick, were the leaders of the Bruges guilds in the fight for freedom against the French occupation in 1302.
The Belfry of Bruges, with 366 steps, overlooks the market square. At its top is the Carillon with 47 bells. It was built in the 13th century and served as a fire station.
During Maximilian’s time, the market square served as tournament ground and a place of trial and execution.On its eastern side, we see the facade of the Provincial Palace, the seat of government of the Provincial Government of West Flanders.
We turn east again and pass the Breidelstraat until we reach the castle square, de Burg, the site of the former castle.
On its southern side is the Stadhuis, the town hall. It captivates by its beautifully decorated facade. In the south-western corner of the square is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, a place of pilgrimage that preserves an ampoule with the alleged blood of Christ.
Impressed by the impressive architecture of the city, we return to our accommodation, the Hotel Bryghia.
Text, photos and video: Copyright © myVideoMedia
Soundtracks in video:
- reCreation by airtone (c) copyright 2019
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/airtone/59721
- Come Inside by Snowflake (c) copyright 2019
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/snowflake/59564 Ft: Starfrosch, Jerry Spoon, Kara Square, spinningmerkaba
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