The Ghent Altarpiece

Trip Start May 14, 2014
Trip End Jun 19, 2014

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What I did
The Ghent Altarpiece

Flag of Belgium  , East Flanders,
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day Eight              Wednesday, May 21, 2014  Bruges to Ghent

After yesterday's deluge of rain, it was delightful to see the sun this morning.  It seems that this weather is typical Belgium because of the proximity to the North Sea, etc.

Today was our outing to Ghent to see the Ghent Altarpiece (rescued and returned by the Monuments’ Men in November 1945).  It was discovered in the Altaussee salt mine in Austria after it had been moved  from the Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen, Germany. (This was the castle used by Walt Disney for his Cinderella Castle. The Fussen castle had 13 miles of tunnels where stolen art work was stored.) The Ghent Altarpiece is such a marvelous example of 1500s painting and interpretation and such an important piece in the history of Belgium, the Monuments’ Men were thrilled to find and return it.

The Altarpiece is a series of huge paintings with details of the sacrificial lamb.  It is in the process of being restored so that it does not deteriorate further.  The restoration is being done in phases – from now through 2017.  At this time, several of the panels are out for restoration and the rest are on display at St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent.

A speedy train brought us to Ghent from Brugge (in about 20 minutes) and with the help of several kind  people, we found the tram (and bought tickets) that took us close to the cathedral.  With the help of an audio guide, we had a great interpretation of the panels (also called "retable"). 

After about 90 minutes of listening and exploring this fabulous cathedral, it was time to make our way back to the train station. . . and find Starbucks for coffee before heading back to Brugge to avoid the threatening skies (complete with the sounds of thunder).  We didn’t want to experience another afternoon of soaking rains.

At the Brugge train station is a small grocery store for us to pick up a light supper!!  An early evening will allow us to explore Brugge tomorrow to finish our list of Belgium specialities -  we still need to find:  lace, waffles, beer, fries, and cheese – so many things and so little time.
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Rita on

What a great record of your trip thus far. I'm having fun reading about your days and your descriptions are so perfect, I feel I am there with you. Glad you're having fun!

Debbie Logan on

I am having a fun time reading about your adventures and seeing the pictures.......thanks for the extra effort at getting pictures illegally (too bad about the red light district - but you painted a good picture!) �� Good luck hitting up the rest of your list of day you can tell me the difference between french fries and Belgium fries??

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