In addition to the beautiful building of the Cathédrale Saints-Michel-et-Gudule in Brussels, they have some lovely art that I thought I would share. For me, the virgin and infant shown above is one of the most delicate and evocative portraits I have seen. I must admit to spending time in front of this sculpture and being moved when I left. I resolved to do some research on Conrad Meit and I found a quite interesting story. As court sculptor to Margaret of Austria in Mechelen beginning in 1514, Conrad Meit (1470-1550) was a major proponent of the Renaissance style, noted for his fusion of German realism and Italian idealism. Also his introduction of the secular bust, which emerged in Northern Europe only around 1500 makes him a seminal figure in the history of sculpture and art collecting in the tradition of the Kunstkammer (cabinet of art and marvels). Both Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach the Elder appreciated the work of Meitner Conrat (Conrad Meit). On his journey to the Netherlands, Dürer (who may have known the sculptor from Wittenberg) dined with Meit several times. In his diary, he referred to Meit as, “The good carver named Conrad, whose equal I've never seen, who serves the Emperor's daughter Margaret”. This is one of his larger sculptures at about 25 inches in height.
The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Koninklijke Sint-Hubertusgalerijen in Dutch, is a glazed glass shopping arcade in Brussels. It is divided into three parts, the Galerie de la Reine, the Galerie du Roi and the small Galerie des Princes. Construction started in 1846, it lasted for 18 months, and the 213 meter passage was inaugurated in 1847 by King Leopold and his two sons. In 1845 the Société named the three sections of the new passage the Galerie du Roi, Galerie de la Reine and Galerie du Prince. The ensemble, called the Passage Saint-Hubert has borne its present name since 1965. In the middle of the 19th century, the Saint-Hubert Galleries were the longest, highest (8 meters), best decorated and best lit galleries in the world, thanks to the enormous arched glass-paned roof with a delicate cast-iron framework which is 200 meters long (in two sections). It offered the luxury of outdoor cafés in Brussels' inclement climate, in an ambiance of luxury retailers that brought to Brussels the true feel of a European capital.
We were in Brussels for the day with our friend Patty and decided to stop by the famous Manneken Pis. Because they were having a motorcycle convention in the Grand Place, he was dressed in a biker outfit. This bronze statuette, executed in the 17th century by J. Duquesnoy the elder, embodies the irreverent spirit of Brussels. Also known as the “Little Julian”, by confusion with another fountain in Juliaensborreke, it was one of the many fountains serving the city. It has been provided with many costumes and decorations, the wardrobe has about 800 rooms, recently reshaped at the City Museum of Brussels. The oldest known outfit was offered by the Elector of Bavaria in 1698.
The Cathédrale Saints-Michel-et-Gudule dates back as early as the 9th century. Originally constructed as a chapel dedicated to St. Michael in the 9th century, it was replaced by a Romanesque church in 1047. In 1047, Lambert II, Count of Leuven founded a chapter in this church and organized the transportation of the relics of Saint Gudula, housed before then in Saint Gaugericus Church on Saint-Géry Island. The patron saints of the church, archangel St. Michael and the martyr St. Gudula, are also the patron saints of the city of Brussels. Saint Gudula dedicated her life to the poor and sick in her home place of St. Gery's Island, her relics were brought to the Church and she was venerated for 500 years. Strangely, she lost her status in 1962 when the second Vatican Council removed her along with many other saints. St. Gudula was reinstated in 1993 and continues her double dedication today. In the thirteenth century, the cathedral was renovated in the Gothic style. The choir was constructed between 1226 and 1276. The façade was completed in the mid-fifteenth century. The two front towers were the last part to be completed in the early 16th century under Charles V. The Cathedral Saints Michel et Gudule is the national church of Belgium, although it was only granted cathedral status in 1962. It is the finest surviving example of Brabant Gothic architecture.
We decided to go to Brussels for the day with our friend Patty and picked Aux Armes de Bruxelles on Rue de Bouchers for lunch. A Brussels institution since it opened in 1921, this family-owned establishment offers gracious, rather formal service, combined with a casual, relaxed ambience. It's an excellent place for an introduction to Belgian cooking, since it combines traditional cuisine with great quality, and offers just about every regional specialty you can think of, including mussels in every conceivable style. We had eaten here on a previous trip to Brussels and decided to return.
I know this is a little out of order since I am currently in Paris, but I found this charming photo from our trip to Brussels a few years ago and I thought I would share. Manneken Pis (literally Little Man Pee in Marols, a Dutch dialect spoken in Brussels, also known in French as le Petit Julien), is a famous Brussels landmark. It is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain’s basin. It was designed by Jerome Duquesnoy and put in place in 1618 or 1619. It bears a similar cultural significance as Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid.