Brugge: a Picture Story

Brugge is a picture story, a living museum, a place to go that is near Antwerp and far away from the present. Brugge is a kind of fairy tale place in a country of castles, palaces, high fashion districts where a single purse sells for thousands and diamonds glitter n’ shimmer like so many tear drops in rows upon rows of store windows and – and where the ghost of King Leopold 11 still haunts people like me.

Yes, Brugge is a dreamy place with a sleepy winding river full of tourist boats and horse drawn wagons click clopping along cobbled streets and candy makers happily making their candies – a UNESCO world heritage site, the capital of West Flanders, city of Flemish speakers.

Brugge is a place to forget the past while wandering through ancient streets; a peaceful place to enjoy a picnic of red wine and cheese and not think about blood diamonds or the horror of King Leopold’s reign of terror in the African Congo – but that is another blog. And really, what has any of this to do with Bruges – in particular?

So, in the meantime, go ahead and enjoy the picturesqueness of this charming little glimpse of another time free of the horror — the horror of the trickery, egoism and some would say and have said, the sadistic greed that drove the colonization of the Congo in the past and keeps the blood diamonds flowing.

After all, I took the photos because I was enchanted with this walk into the past, content to sit in the lovely grove of trees in the monastery of Santca Elisabeth and breath in the silence, excited to climb the medieval stair case – 520 steps – along with the other tourist, enchanted by the vista, eager to capture it all with my lens, that, for a few hours, carried me away from the present. It was not until later that I started to feel so, so …. um – what is this feeling?

Yep – there is no graffiti in Brugge.

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3 comments

  1. An incredibly beautiful town, however tragic the road to this beauty. I’m afraid all our histories are bloody. We can’t fix that but the present and future………maybe.

  2. You are right Mom, still I worry about how we will change the future if the past is not acknowledged for what it really was — and while in Canada our governments have at least said ‘sorry’ and paid a little bitty retribution — it so shocked me to see that statue of King Leopold 11 standing so boldly above the financial district in Antwerp, and all those diamonds. But, most disturbing is having all these students who have learned so little about the past and keep calling African countries ‘undeveloped’ and Latin America countries ‘third world’ because this is what their teachers teach them. When I discuss this kind of language usage in my classrooms, some — not all, but some students become very upset with me and suggest I am a liberal or a socialist, and these are thought of as ‘bad words’ in their lexicon. I am a teacher, and as you know, not an actively political person. I care about language and the stories we tell ourselves. Language is a powerful tool, it shapes how we think, which shapes our realities. And so do all those statues and commemorations of really evil, greedy and down right sadistic powerful people of the past. It is important to bring the past into the present so that we can understand today –and this is most especially so when trying to understand why some countries are so poor — because they have been so terribly exploited — and some countries are so rich, because they have been so horribly greedy. Love you for your comments Mom.

  3. To bring the past into the present – that’s your job and the job of all the good teachers. Those relics of the past don’t have the authority they had even when I was young. But so much of what you have photographed is just plain beautiful . With time the ugliness disappears and only the best remains. I’m talking pure aesthetics. love you too

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