Monday, September 15, 2014

Bruges: Market Square and Burg Square

After our brewery tour, we were feeling good and ready to explore more of the city. It was now late morning and the day was beginning to warm up. The first stop was Market (Markt) Square, home of Bruges' famous Bell Tower.

Bruges Bell Tower, Belgium
Bruges Bell Tower

...But the tower isn't the only thing to see in the square. The old public trading post is ringed with these classic northern-european gabled (steppy) building fronts and bright colors.

Bruges Market Square Belgium
Bruges Market Square

Before braving the 300+ steps of the Tower, we needed a snack. Luckily, touristy towns like Bruges are always full of handy food carts selling local favorites. For us, it was fries and mayonnaise!

French fries and mayonnaise in Bruges, Belgium
"They drown 'em in that s**t!"

The cart was tourist-friendly, so a number of other toppings were available, like malt vinegar, ketchup, and curry sauce. We stuck with the warm mayo pumped from a large bag in the street cart. Mmmmmm...

Refreshed, we were ready to take on the Bell Tower steps. It wasn't easy, but we've climbed towers like this before.

Bell Tower Innards Bruges, Belgium
Bell Tower Innards

The steps were tough, but the payoff was great! The view of Bruges was amazing, and the weather was cooperating with mostly clear conditions. The only downside was that being inside the Bell Tower, we couldn't see the Bell Tower. Oh, well.

Bruges Steeples seen from the Bell Tower
Bruges Steeples

Red Roofs as Far as the Eye can See! Bruges Belgium
Red Roofs as Far as the Eye can See!

Bell Tower... Bell Bruges Belgium
Bell Tower... Bell

Canal Below the Bell Tower Bruges Belgium
Canal Below the Bell Tower

While we were in the top level, the top of the hour struck and the bells began to ring. It was LOUD LOUD LOUD but pretty neat. The quarter hours were short jingles, but the hour mark was a two-minute piece that banged away while we watched. I smiled at a number of other folks filming the whole thing on smartphones and wondered what kind of sound quality those little mics could pick up... assuming the incredibly loud bells didn't shatter the diaphragms.

After the Bell Tower and Market Square, we headed over to Burg Square, another old center of commerce in this once-great trading port.

Bruges City Hall
Bruges City Hall

This in another of of those "Turn 360 degrees and see all the awesome buildings, monuments, and crowds of tourists" squares. Luckily, we could see the tip of the Bell Tower over the gabled storefronts in the square- and the crowds, oh the crowds.

Bell Tower from Burg Square
Bell Tower from Burg Square

Old Recorder's House Bruges, Belgium
Old Recorder's House

We finished Burg Square with a look inside the Basilica of the Holy Blood. The church has on display a relic, a phial of dried blood reported to be Christ's own. It was given to Bruges by a Crusader who brought it back from Jerusalem, and has been housed here ever since. 

The line to see the blood was long, so we just took a cruise through the rest of the sanctuary.

Basilica of the Holy Blood Upper Chapel Bruges Belgium
Basilica of the Holy Blood Upper Chapel

Whew! After a morning of walking through a brewery, climbing and descending 300+ steps, and marveling at the unique buildings in the squares, we were ready for a break. Then, more walking!

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