There are some places in the world that you visit and they have an aura of mystery about them and an ambience that you don’t forget. The Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Belgium is one such place.
After watching the movie “In Bruges” this city was immediately a place that I wanted to visit. One of the oldest mediaeval cities in Europe, it looked charming and captivating and unique. That movie put Bruges on the tourist map.
I visited there as part of a long weekend with a couple of friends. I had planned to visit the Bell Tower which featured in the movie but never actually made it there as it was closed at the time I went to visit.
The city itself is beautiful, picturesque and quaint, cobbled streets scattered with chocolate shops and bridges and canals in abundance. It is known as “The Venice of the North” and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On walking through the city and meandering about, I accidentally stumbled upon The Basilica of the Holy Blood. Interestingly, I didn’t remember it from the film, but on watching it again, it is there, sure enough.
I had gone through a doorway and walked up some steps unsure of what I was going to see and read the information on the walls as we moved slowly. Gradually information was revealed on the walls about a Noble Brotherhood. There was a long queue. And I was curious what everyone was going to see.
It was revealed that it was a phial containing what was said to be the Sacred Blood of Jesus Christ, brought back by Thierry of Alsace, The Count of Flanders after the Crusades. Joseph of Arimathea was said to have preserved the precious blood after washing Christ’s dead body after the Crucifixion. It is not mentioned in the Bible, but in one of the Apocryphal Gospels. The relic was thought to be taken from Jerusalem to Bruges during the second crusade.
The Sacred Blood was in an ornate rock crystal phial, seated upon a velvet cushion. There were people from all over the world, of every culture and every creed, waiting to see it.
As I walked away from the crowds I took in the ambience of the majestic surroundings and sat down upon a pew in the upper chapel. It was a small place in a ghostly twilight. And I wanted to sit there for a long time. I really was in no rush to leave.
You could sit there for hours as it is a place of deep serenity despite the crowds that are attracted. It is a port of calm, an inner sanctum, away from a crazy noisy world. A place stumbled upon unexpectedly but with a captivating otherwordly resonance.
I wondered why a place, such as this, had not featured in the Da Vinci Code with all it’s talk of Bloodlines. I had read that book and visited some of the places featured in it. Strangely this place was not mentioned yet it would fit so well within that context. It is truly unique.
I have visited many churches and cathedrals around the world. Not to attend a service as such but to view ornate surroundings and light a candle. This place had the most powerful, calming, interesting resonance. Very pure and beautiful place.
You will truly find peace in this place. There is a touch of divinity in it’s very walls. For me it was the highlight of Bruges. And a place I hope to visit again. Truly a place of Mystery and Intrigue. A place that leads you to ask questions. And a place of Serenity.
You can find more information on The Basilica of The Holy Blood at Visit Bruges and Atlas Obscura
In Bruges – Movie Clip – Jesus Christ’s Blood
In Bruges – Movie Clips – The Sound of Silence – Spoiler Alert!