Belgium // Bruges //

Kantcentrum & Jeruzalemkerk

Beyond the east end of the Spiegelrei canal is an old working-class district, whose low brick cottages surround a substantial complex of buildings that originally belonged to the wealthy Adornes family, who migrated here from Genoa in the thirteenth century. Inside the complex, the Kantcentrum (Lace Centre), on the right-hand side of the entrance, has a busy workshop and offers very informal demonstrations of traditional lacemaking in the afternoon (no set times). They sell the stuff too – both here and in the shop at the ticket kiosk – but it isn’t cheap: a smallish Bruges table mat, with two swans, for example, costs €20–25; if you fancy having a go yourself, the shop sells all the gubbins.

Across the passageway from the Kantcentrum is one of the city’s real oddities, the Jeruzalemkerk (Jerusalem Church; same times & ticket as the Kantcentrum), which was built by the Adornes family in the fifteenth century as an approximate copy of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem after one of their number, Pieter, had returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The interior is on two levels: the lower one is dominated by a large and ghoulish altarpiece, decorated with skulls and ladders, in front of which is the black marble tomb of Anselm Adornes, the son of the church’s founder, and his wife Margaretha. There’s more grisliness at the back of the church, where the small vaulted chapel holds a replica of Christ’s tomb – you can glimpse the imitation body down the tunnel behind the iron grating. To either side of the main altar, steps ascend to the choir, which is situated right below the eccentric, onion-domed lantern tower.

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