Church of Our Lady, Bruges, Belgium

The grand majesty of the Church of Our Lady in Bruges is a reflection of the historical wealth and importance of what was once one of the most influential financial centres in Europe, and the church was built at its height, between the 13th and 15th centuries. One of the most astounding and ostentatious pieces of art is the white marble Madonna and Child by Michelangelo that marks the grave of a wealthy Bruges businessman. It is believed to have been the only Michelangelo statue that left Italy during his lifetime which is another indicator of the wealth of Bruges during the early to middle centuries of the last millennium. The tower is mammoth in size, with beautifully rendered brickwork, at 115.6 metres it is the tallest building in the city and the second tallest brickwork tower in Europe (the tallest is St Martin’s Church, Landshut, Germany). The flying buttresses of the exterior demonstrate beautifully the Gothic style, being constructed in the 1270s and 80s. The church is also home to the tombs of two of the most renowned rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy during the late 15th century, Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold, her father. Charles ruled from 1467 to 1477 until he died in battle at Nancy in France. Mary became a young ruler at twenty years of age but tragically only ruled a further five years before her death when her horse fell while on a falcon hunt and broke her back, the beautiful sarcophagi of Charles and Mary are richly decorated, with the images of Charles and Mary rendered in bronze.

GPS: 51.20464, 3.22446

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