Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
Walking through the streets of Bruges: A city that, at times, feels as if it's missed out on much of the world's progress, since the apex of its own Golden Age, during the Mediaeval period. The city's decline began with the onset of the Renaissance in Italy; though boats from that peninsula began arriving regularly in the harbor during the thirteenth century, 200 years earlier. With the establishment of his court in Bruges during the first half of the fifteenth century, Phillip the Good ushered in an era of extravagance, which would in later centuries flow throughout France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. It's the remains of this decadent era of the Duchy of Burgundy–ruled over by the House of Valois-Burgundy, that seems so distant in history, and yet so near–in which one walks through today. Mediaeval remnants remain; cars, phones, and quick access to the internet all serve as friendly reminders that what the city lacks in modern architecture, in makes up for in modern amenities. Jetties protrude from timber-frame houses, ribbed vaulting is abound in numerous ecclesiastical spaces, while minuscule loggias overlook tiny canals that string through around and along the city center. Brimming with evocative architecture, Bruges is anchored to its past, which tends to lend to ephemeral experiences within its intimate confines, a transcending, ethereal feel. Most importantly, to me, it is the city in which Jan van Eyck was active, during the fifteenth century: the age of Netherlandish.