As I live in Amsterdam - which is about 3 a hour drive from Bruges by car, this tour is best started from Amsterdam so we can use this 3 hour trip to the fullest, with a fine lecture on Dutch and Belgian history on the way! This makes it a fun trip, and an educational university level 101 course on Dutch and Belgian culture. Let's first go from Amsterdam to Ghent, and then from Ghent to Bruges by car and I will show to you what changes are visible in architecture and the underlying social attitudes.
A great route to go south is to take the highway to Rotterdam, then take the seaside road to look at the magnificent engineering of the Delta waterworks and then proceed to take the 6 KM long underwater tunnel under the Westerschelde (Scheldt) to Flanders.
First visiting Ghent in order to see this stupendous Van Eyck Altarpiece. Words can hardly describe this fabulous set of paintings. Jan van Eyck in bright technicolor. A half an one hour visit to this Ghent Altarpiece, The famous Michelin travel guide calls it "vaut le visite", entirely worth the trip, and so it is! I wrote a review article on a fine DVD. And then a quick bite in a restaurant... the Flemish know how to cook! But there is more to come! We will be on our way to Bruges / Brugge.
On arrival in Bruges/Brugge we see a well preserved fine old town which contains great mediaeval architecture and two top of the bill works of art: The Canon van der Paele painting by Van Eyck in the Groeninge museum and the statue of the Madonna by Michelangelo. And then there is the wonderful town layout! A windmill on the rampart. A great monster of a city gate. We may enter the town by this Kruispoort gate and proceed through the Nieuwstraat.
Strolling down the Nieuwstraat in Brugge, to the center we get a first exciting glimpe of the town's incredible beauty. Picture taken from the Predikherenrei street. Walking on, the town unfolds... and then it gets even better... although we may also ask questions whether the town is suffering a bit of "Disneyfication", an overzealous restoration drive to re-create a fancy make-believe historical past. "Textielwaren" or Textile wares. The text is in Dutch, but the attitude may be easy going Flemish.
Historically Bruges is a city of manifold texiles industries, such as the heavy black woollen cloth (the garb of the businessman), fine white linens, and later on also embroidery and needlepoint. In this picture you see some forgotten and tattered textiles. In the window an artful self portrait of the Art Historian with Camera. A ray of sunshine highlighting a brick house on Nieuwstraat. The structure of the relieving arches above the windows indicates an entirely different setup in earlier days. In Dutch this curved architectural element is called 'ontlastingsboog'.
By order of the Bruges city government Marcus Gerards engraved 10 copper plates in 1562, showing the plan of Bruges and its harbours of Sluis and Damme. Prints and the original copper plates are found in the print room, the 'Prentenkabinet van de Stedelijke Musea'. As an art historian based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, I can also meet you in Bruges for a personalized guided tour of art museums and the historic center.
Together we will experience the beauty and history . Enjoy yourself and learn about history while strolling and discussing the country's history, art and culture. In doing so, we may touch many bases - spanning not only fine art and architecture but also the city's history and current social issues. Starting at your hotel I will take you on a wonderful private cultural walking tour of your choice. My guided itinerary offers you accessable informative conversation in English, Dutch, or German (my French and Italian are more limited). You may also arrange this VIP treatment for business contacts or friends. Our cultural tour organisation office will take care of a unique and memorable experience.
Drs. Kees Kaldenbach has been featured in television and radio documentaries, including BBC2 TV, NTV Japan, Danish TV and Radio Netherlands World Service. In July 2004 he was interviewed about Bruges artists by Tetsuya Tsuruhara for the leading Japanese newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbun. In 2004 and 2005 he acted in an advisory role to additional BBC teams. Kaldenbach has written extensively on Vermeer and 17th century Bruges, on Vincent van Gogh and on other art history topics.
- Please contact me for time and fees of the tailor-made tour you ar interested in
- These tailor made tours are available upon request - please contact me to book a date
- Minimum group size: 2 persons
- Maximum group size is limited to about 10 persons
Generally for small groups of 2-4 persons starting in Amsterdam by car. Contact me for information on higher amounts with other venues and more people.
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