Top Duo: Bruges and Ghent
Bruges: Beautiful Sleeping Beauty© Markus Monreal / Fotolia.com
On my journey through Flanders, I had prepared myself so well! With melancholic chants in which Jacques Brel sings of rainy horizons of the flat country. With the famous novella "Bruges-la-morte" (The Dead Bruges), in which Georges Rodenbach attaches to the city of Bruges eerie melancholy. Finally, with gastronomic rumors, according to which the Belgians especially like french fries to eat. So I started.
Until Brussels I saw Flanders only flat and pretty x-arbitrary. Then the landscape became increasingly lush, like a well-laid table.
Bruges - the city lights up. Of sadness, even more scary, no trace. If you want to be melancholy in Bruges to your heart's content, then you will at least face the high prices that are on the menus in the restaurants.
The cityscape has hardly changed since the late Middle Ages. Bruges is a Sleeping Beauty that fell asleep several centuries ago. And although it is kissed by tourists every morning, it dreams, as if with open eyes, of delicate stepped gables, turrets and alleyways.
A small, manageable city. Nearly 120 000 inhabitants. Not a single skyscraper. In 1992, an American hotel group wanted to raise a 20-storey bed babel in the city center. The US managers powered, but the Bruges waved off. No donuts for Sleeping Beauty! Every building that is not older than 200 years old is considered a new building.
Here we go. Past an elongated Gothic facade. The town hall. When it was built in the 14th century, Bruges was one of the richest and most densely populated cities on the continent. In the warehouses at the inland port, precious bales of cloth and sacks of expensive spices piled up. Famous artists came and stayed; and a polyglot gang of bankers drove from profit to profit in gilded carriages.
Snack in the Liebfrauenkirche
"Bruges is a golden jewel, in which the Liebfrauenkirche radiates as the most precious gem," wrote the great painter Hans Memling, who lived and worked in the 15th century as a migrant at Rozenhoedkaai. I can not contradict the master. In the Cologne Cathedral or in the Paris Notre-Dame you always have a bad conscience, because you are not on tiptoe. In Bruges Liebfrauenkirche, however, everyone immediately feels like a welcome guest. No one bothers, for example, with the older man, who sits in front of the altar in the first row and devotes his time devoutly. Sausage, cheese and half a baguette are lying on the blue and white checkered cloth that he has spread out next to him, and from a thermos it evaporates auspiciously.
In front of the waist-high barrier of a side chapel, a group of Japanese tourists crowds in and marvels at a sculpture that stands behind a bullet-proof glass panel about 15 meters from the drawn-out cameras. There are several surveillance cameras installed on the ceiling. It is said that the American pop art master Andy Warhol was jubilated shortly before his death only for one reason to Europe - he wanted to see in the Liebfrauenkirche of Bruges this a work of art made of white marble: "Madonna and Child" (1503-1504) by Michelangelo Buonarroti.
The museums themselves are museum-ready
Around the Liebfrauenkirche lie the most important museums of the city. No modern showcases; the treasury of Bruges are museum-ready. Several masterpieces by Hans Memling hang in a former ward of the 12th-century St. John's Hospital. In the neighboring Groeningemuseum, the world-famous paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Jan van Eyck, Pieter Bruegel d. J. ("Hell's Bruegel") and Rogier van der Weyden once lived nuns in monastic peace. In the Brangwyn Museum I just want to look at a highly acclaimed collection of lace - and land unexpectedly in the middle of the last century. At that time the once so splendid commercial center was completely impoverished, half of the population lived on alms. At that time, more than 10,000 women made lace here. For a pittance.
But then a belletristic miracle happened, which is probably unique in world history. A book, not even 100 pages strong, brought back the wealth of the city: Shortly after the previously mentioned novella "Bruges-la-morte" by Georges Rodenbach appeared in 1892, a veritable "trip" to the supposedly "dead" City. That's when Bruges lived again. And how! Meanwhile, 95 hotels and over 200 restaurants have been set up for tourism. It is still being bluffed today, mainly for the tourists.In the top courses, which are offered every summer, lace fans from all over the world meet.
Ghent: a city between pomp and pommes© Frofoto / Fotolia.com
A trip to Ghent, about an hour's drive from Bruges. There are actually fry pubs here. Even the melancholy I could fall here. Gent is not sparkling. Bruges lives his past, but Ghent only flirts with her. All the ancient houses, trading offices, churches, palaces, canals, bridges and museums are permanent loans from the tourism industry. A city between pomp and pommes. That's how it seems to me.
Gent also has to offer so-called "sights" (a loveless term that would never come to my mind in Bruges). For example, the Graslei and Koremarkt are allegedly more photographed than anywhere else in the Kingdom of Belgium. The two old town streets that run along the banks of the River Leie are an open-air museum of historic architectural styles: Restored facades of old guildhouses and warehouses narrate the trade and transformation of past epochs with the rigor of the Brabant Gothic and the bourgeois splendor of the Ghent Renaissance. Around noon I go to the three-nave cathedral Sint Baafs, also called St. Bavo.
The "Ghent Altar" - to kneel beautiful
Half an hour, I do not want to spend more time here. But I stay until late in the evening. It is the "Ghent altar" that does not let me go. On the twelve plates of the masterpiece completed in 1432, the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck created a truly "picturesque" canon of medieval piety. The Flemish masters tell and interpret less with their figures than with the colors. Thus, I discover that a certain red of the Paradise scene shines on the garment of the Mother of God. Nice to kneel.
Travel Info Ghent
"Pakhuis", the secret tip for oysters lovers. Weekly changing menus (Schuurkenstraat 4, Ghent, tel. 2 23 55 55, www.pakhuis.be, Mon-Fri 12-14.30, 7-24 pm, Sat 19-24, Sun 6-23 pm).
"Erasmus Hotel" - beautiful Renaissance building (16th century) with stylish double rooms; four rooms to the lovingly restored garden located (double / single from 9 Euro, Poel 25, Ghent, Tel. 2 24 21 95/2 25 75 91, www.erasmushotel.be).
"Gravensteen": Opposite the "House of Crowned Heads" an Empire Hotel with 27 rooms (DR / F from 75 Euro, Jan Breydelstraat 35, 9000 Gent, Tel. 2 25 11 50, www.gravensteen.be).
"IBIS Centrum Kathedraal": Ideal location in the historic city center opposite the St. Baafskathedraal; 120 rooms (double room from 75 Euro, Limburgstraat 2, 9000 Gent, Tel. 2 33 00 00, www.ibishotel.com).
in the "Macondo" "Taushe", an African stew with tomatoes, peanuts and "saka-saka", manioc leaves with Chinese cabbage and coriander is served (Steendam 66, Ghent, tel. 2 25 31 95, except Tues 17.30-22.30).
For Belgian chocolates - world famous - with walnut, orange butter cream and almond nougat, also for diabetics, is "Daskalides" the address in Gent (Skaldenstraat 11, www.daskalides.be, daily 9.30am-6pm).
Travel information Bruges
"Hotel Egmond": small, neo-gothic hotel with only eight rooms at the idyllic Minnewaterpark (double / single from 89 Euro, Minnewater 15, Bruges, Tel. 34 14 45, www.egmond.be).
"Europ" is located on one of the typical canals, 28 rooms (DR from 63 Euro, Augustijnenrei 18, Bruges, Tel. 33 79 75, www.hoteleurop.com).
"De Pauw": Small family hotel with eight double rooms overlooking the St. Gilliskerk, funerary church of the famous painter Hans Memling (died 1494) (DR / S from 80 Euro, St. Gilliskerkhof 8, 8000 Brugge, Tel. 33 71 18/33 41 11, www.hoteldepauw.be).
"The Gouden Harynck", small exquisite restaurant. Specialties: diced scallops and smoked lobster on fig chutney. (Groeninge 25, 8000 Bruges, Tel. 33 76 37, www.goudenharynck.be, 12-14 and 19-22 o'clock, Sun / Mon closed, necessarily for evening book!).
Who is on wednesdays "Hobbit" Grilled ribs are served live with French chansons, bossa nova and gypsy tunes (Kemelstraat 8, Bruges, tel. 33 55 20, www.hobbitgrill.be, Mon-Fri 18-1, Sat / Sun 12-1 pm).
After grandmother's Flemish beer recipes will be in "The Dyver" et al the redfish terrine prepared with white beer (Dyver 5, Bruges, Tel. 33 60 69, www.dijver.be, except Wed 12-14, 18-22.30).
In detail: the DuMont Art Guide "Flanders"; to the tuning: "Flanders" - a literary landscape picture island publishing house.
Belgian Tourist Office in Dusseldorf, Tel. 0211/864840, tourist information in English is provided by the Tourist Office of the City of Bruges, www.visit-bruges.com Area Code for Belgium: 0032 Area code Ghent 09 Area code Bruges 050.