Apart from the film “In Bruges” we had very little to go on to shape our impressions prior to visiting. Bruges la morte, the 1892 novella by Georges Rodenbach provided an equally dark flip side to the films violent fairy tale. In the novella Bruges itself, takes on the role of another character alongside the main players, complete with narrow, oppressive cobbled streets, Catholicism, watery guilt and symbolism.
We visited in December. Bruges was cold, wet and grey, the sun only appearing briefly on the final afternoon, temporarily raising the city out of a somnambulistic fugue just as we were leaving.
The bubble burst. The temporary passport back to the Middle Ages withdrawn. Spires, corrugated skylines, religious icons, alleys, canals and bridges, figures skittering out of the gloom, horse-drawn carriages clattering, bells ringing out and birds rushing, swooping between the roofs all firmly beaten back into the 21st Century by selfie sticks and guide books.
I deliberately didn’t look at pictures of Bruges before we went, rather using the novella to try and pre- visualise the city. Now, looking through photo sites like Flickr, I see pictures of sunny days and tourists thronging the square in glorious multicolour: that doesn’t quite fit with the Bruges we experienced.
Bruges seeped into our very being, insidiously and ancient.
All photos M6TTL & 50mm or M6 & 28mm all on Tri-X.