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in Bruges, Belgium

Bruges Attractions and Things to See

holy blood relic Bruges is the capital and biggest city in the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium that sits in the northwest area of the country and its old city center is an important World Heritage Site of UNESCO that is often called the "Venice of the North". It has a great economic significance due to its port that had been, at one time, the chief commercial city of the world. There are only a few traces that had human activity dating from the Pre-Roman Gaul period, with its first fortifications constructed after Julius Caesar's conquest of the Menapii in the first century BC that was built to protect their coastal areas from pirates. Thus it has a substantial history, with many outstanding architectural and historical sites, getting its city charter in 1128. Its Bourse would open in 1309, and believed to be the first stock exchange in the world, developing into a major sophisticated money market that would give rise to social problems that would be harshly and severely dealt with.

During the 15th century, Philip the Good would set up courts in the city, that would attract many bankers, artists and other important people from all across Europe, so that the spinners and weavers would eventually be considered the finest in the world and the city began to grow quickly. The new Flemish school of oil painting techniques would gain world fame, and the first book that was ever published in English that had ever been printed would be published here by William Caxton, and the city where Edward IV and Richard III of England would be exiled.

The city's majority of medieval architecture has remained intact, with many medieval buildings still standing and famous that include the Church of Our Lady, that has a brick spire that rises some 400 feet into the sky, that makes it one of the tallest brick structures in the world. Inside the transept, the sculpture of Madonna and Child is thought to be Michangleo's only sculpture to leave Italy in his lifetime, but its most famous landmark is the 13th century belfry that contains a municipal carillon that houses 48 bells, with the city still paying a full-time carollineur that often gives free concerts.

Other famous and well known structures in Bruges include; the old city gateways, the Beguinage, the Old St. John's Hospital, the city hall on the Burg Square, the Basilica of the Holy Blood Church that houses the relic of the Holy Blood that had been brought here by Thierry of Alsace after the Second Crusade, which is the venerated relic of Holy Blood that had been collected by Joseph of Arimathea. The chapel of St. Basil is one of the finest preserved churches in the Romanesque style of West-Flanders and constructed sometime between 1134 and 1149 and dedicated to St. Basil the Great of whom an artifact had been brought here by Count Robert II from Caesara Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor, that is now called Turkey.

The Relic of the Precious Blood has a fabulous history and is a phial of what was determined to be a Byzantine perfume bottle, housing a piece of cloth with Jesus' blood on it that Joseph had preserved after he had washed the body of Our Lord, and the phial is made from rock crystal that dates to the 11th or 12th century, that was created in the area of Constantinople and has never been opened since arriving in this city that has made quite a do about the phial that is encased in a glass-fronted gold cylinder that has been closed in at both ends by coronets decorated with angels, and its neck is wound with gold thread and sealed with red wax. The city has a procession each year that include a historical reenactment of the phial's arrival along with similar dramatizations of Biblical events. The reliquary is used in the procession and showcased in the Basilica museum made in 1617 by Bruges goldsmith Jan Crabbe that used 66 pounds of silver and gold and over 100 precious gems and is a gem encrusted hexagonal case topped by golden statues that represent the Christ, the Virgin Mary, St. Donatian and St. Basil the Great.