Do you need another reason to visit Bruges?
Yesterday I went to Bruges to see the Triennale Brugge 2015, a Contemporary Art and Architecture exhibition taking place there until 18 October 2015. If you need an excuse to visit this enchanting medieval city, the Triennale may just be it.
Artists from around the world contributed works for the Triennale exhibition. Fourteen works of art are displayed in different spots around the city, guiding the visitor from the train station to the other side of Bruges, passing through the center. The art trail for the exhibits will lead you to some of my favorite spots in Bruges, like the Beguinage, the Jan Van Eyckplein, and the Groenerei (see below for photos).
Although I’ve been in the Beguinage at least 50 times, I always appreciate its silent beauty. It’s an ideal place to gather your thoughts, except during the busy visiting times when tour groups come through. The Beguinage is even more attractive now with the Tree Huts in Bruges by Tadashi Kawamata (Japan) built in the trees of the courtyard.
Most of the works are outside so visitors can enjoy them any time of the day. My favorite works in the exhibition are the Tree Huts in Bruges (above) and Wu Wei Er Wei (Doing Nothing Doing) by Song Dong from China.
A few of the works are placed in water, the perfect setting for Bruges. For example, the Canal Swimmer’s Club by Atelier Bow-Wow (Japan) features a dock set up along the canal so people can enjoy the good weather while cooling off by the water.
Another work, the Cataract Gorge by Romy Achituv (Israel/USA), symbolizes Bruges’ current economic stagnation despite its past glory. The artist suggests that Bruges today exists merely for the purpose of entertaining its tourists.
However, a couple of the exhibits are hosted indoors by local institutions so opening hours need to be respected. One of these indoor works, called Quiet is the New Loud by [O+A] (USA/Austria), encourages visitors to experience the quiet of the city by participating in various fun exercises. One of the tools offered at this stop is a map of Bruges indicating sights all over town and highlighting the sounds you should experience at each spot. It’s unfortunate that visitors receive this map at mid-point of the art trail after most visitors will have already passed many of the spots indicated on the map. Day visitors will surely not go back to experience the sounds at the spots behind them.
Walking through Bruges is always wonderful. In the center of Bruges, however, crowds of tourists horde around the two main squares, the Markt and Burg, as well as the surrounding canals. I understand why they come to enjoy these remarkable sights. Frankly, however, I wish they would move aside so I can take my photos and enjoy the sites in tranquility. Bruges is at its best in silence: in the winter, in the Begijnhof (Begiunage), and along the canals a little bit away from the center squares. There is something reflective and spiritual about the town of Bruges that makes it an ideal place to wander aimlessly. I was therefore very pleased that the Triennale exhibition leads visitors to some of the outlying areas so they can see a side of Bruges they might not ordinarily experience on a tour.
Where to have lunch
As much as I enjoy Bruges, I find the lunch options fairly disappointing. Most restaurants are either on the higher end or the lower end of the scale, with very little in the middle. The prices for lunch are higher than in other cities in Belgium for food that is generally no better, with few exceptions. I was therefore thrilled to discover a new place called Blackbird open for breakfast, lunch and tea-time at Jan van Eyckplein 7. See my review of the Blackbird by clicking on this link. For visitors of the Triennale, the Blackbird is located at mid-point of the art trail, making it an ideal place to have lunch or to enjoy a break.
I recommend going to the Triennale exhibition before it ends on 18 October 2015. It is family-friendly and free of charge. Visitors can stay as long as they like at each site as well as at other places they like along the way. Here are photos of some of the places you will see as you follow the art trail.
If you go to Bruges or to the Triennale, share your comments below so others can benefit.