Things to see or visit in Belgium about the medieval period:
First to begin with Bruges as it was the most wealthy and well developed city north of the Alps, or in other words outside northern Italy at that time.
-St John’s hospital with museum / collection of mediaval art / Hans Memling paintings.
-Cloth Hall with Belfry.
-Groeninge Museum with van Eyck, Gerard David paintings and more medieval art.
-Gothic town hall with adjacent Basilica of the Holy Blood.
-Gruuthuyse Museum, mansion of a very wealthy medieval merchant.
-Huis ter Beurze, regarded as the place of the first stock exchange in history.
-St. Salvador Cathedral.
-Church of Our Lady with ofcourse Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child (not medieval btw, but not to miss.) and for you important the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and her father Charles the Bold. She has very interesting links with European history like her son was the brother in law of Catherina of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII of England. Their devorce initiated the English Reformation that changed the English and with that European history for good. Her grandson was Charles V and her grandfather Philip the Good was involved with the betrayal of Joan of Arc.
-Castle of Wijnendale where in one of the forests Maria of Burgundy died caused by a hunting accident.
-Ter Doest, huge well preserved medieval tythe barn north of Bruges. Nearby Lissewege is lovely but not so much medieval.
-Damme: medieval town hall and church. Uilenspiegel museum about a medieval folkloric character.
Second Ghent, medieval are there:
-Cloth hall with belfry.
-St. Nicolas Church, gothic.
-St Michaels Church, gothic.
-St. Jacobs Church.
-Buildings along Korenlei (?), Graslei and Korenmarkt.
-City hall, gothic.
-Sint Jorishof, where once Mary of Burgundy stayed.
-Gerard de Duivelsteen
-St. Bavo abbey
-St. Pieter abbey, buildings mainly from later periods but some parts are medieval.
-STAM, museum about the history of Ghent.
-Beguinage St. Elisabeth and Our Lady ter Hoyen.
-Last but not least St. Bavo Cathedral with not to miss as already noticed absolute masterpiece The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by both Jan and Hubert van Eyck. Gallery of painted crests of members of The Order of the Golden Fleece founded by Philip the Good of Burgundy. One of Europe’s most prestigious and still excisting orders.
I am not so familiar with Antwerp, but think there is lesser to see about the medieval period as it had it’s heyday during Renaissance, but nevertheless.
-Het Steen, medieval castle.
-Cathedral of Our Lady.
-Beguinage, hard to find, small but lovely.
-St. Paul Church.
-Mayer van der Bergh Museum with among other medieval paintings the Dulle Griet by Breugel.
Same for Brussels,
-Town hall at the Grand Place.
-St. Michael’s Cathedral.
-Royal Museum of Fine Arts with works by Pieter Breugel and Jeroen Bosch.
Further Mechelen the reason Tim describes. Lier southeast of Antwerp was the place of the marriage between Mary of Burgundy’s son Philip the Handsome and Joanna of Castille. She arrived with her household of 20.000 men and women, a fleet of 130 ships, 85,000 pounds smoked meat, 50,000 herrings, 6000 eggs, 1000 chickens and 400 barrels wine. That is what I call a party. They were the parents of Charles V. Lier is nice but there is not so many medieval buildings to find except for instance the gothic St. Gummarus church.
Leuven with it’s spectacular gothic town hall and St. Pieters church is nice too. And like Tim already noticed the beguinage there is as nice as the one in Bruges to my opinion.
More in my next post.