After leaving the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, I walked across the Maria Bridge and went to Walplein Square, one of the busiest squares in Bruges. With its outdoor cafes and the De Halve Mann Brewery, it is a mecca for tourists and locals alike. The De Halve Maan Brewery is operated by the sixth generation of the same family and has been in operation since 1856.
After a lunch of Belgium waffles on the Square, I had to choose between a visit to the Beguinage-sanctuary to the Beguine sisterhood since 1245-or St. Salvator Cathedral and Castle Square. I ended up backtracking and saw the apothecary that was closed earlier and went on to the church.
St. Salvator Cathedral is Bruges’ oldest parish church as was started in 850. The church that stands today dates from the 12th century. The famous God the Father sculpture by Artus Quellinus is from 1682 and sits in front of the choir screen. The cathedral has beautiful stained glass. Restoration is underway inside.
Returning to the Market Square, I passed my favorite alleyway and took another picture. The rain at bay, the square was full of life. I passed through and took a few pictures on the way to Castle Square.
The first court of Bruges built its burg (fortified town/walled city) at Castle Square. It was built for defensive purposes to protect against the Viking invaders. The original castle and Cathedral have been demolished; a Holiday Inn now sits on the location of the Cathedral and the outline of the castle is still evident when you walk through the park-like area with a statue and benches. Today on the square, there is a row of impressive buildings to see. On the far right end sits the entrance to the Basilica of the Holy Blood, next door is the City Hall of Bruges, and on the far left is The Chambers.
The lower chapel of the Basilica dates from the 12th century and is in the Romanesque style. The upper church dates from the 15th century, but was restored in the 19th century in the Neo-Gothic style.
After leaving the Basilica, I spent some time photographing the architecture of the buildings on Castle Square and doing some interesting people watching. Then I walked through the narrow passageway next to The Chambers, crossed the canal, and stopped at the fish market where local artists were showing their work.
Then I walked over to Rozenhoedkaai, Quay of the Rosary, the most photographed spot in the city where wreaths were sold in the Middle Ages. It is very close to our our hotel just down from the Nepomucenus Bridge along the Dijver Canal.
I had come full circle and was very close to the hotel so I decided to nap and rest my foot until Boris got back. Our hotel host once again arranged a nice dinner for us. We’ll be eating just off the Market Square tonight.