The towering spire of the plain Gothic Church of Our Lady, begun about 1220, rivals the Belfry as Brugge's symbol. It is 381 feet high, the tallest brick construction in the world. While brick can be built high, it cannot be sculpted like stone; hence the tower's somewhat severe look. The art history highlight here is the Madonna and Child statue carved by Michelangelo, an early work. The great sculptor sold it to a merchant from Brugge when the original client failed to pay. It was stolen by Napoléon, and during World War II by Nazi leader Hermann Göring; now the white-marble figure sits in a black-marble niche behind an altar at the end of the south aisle. The choir museum contains many 13th- and 14th-century polychrome tombs, as well as two mausoleums: that of Mary of Burgundy, who died in 1482 at the age of 25 after a fall from her horse; and that of her father, Charles the Bold, killed in 1477 while laying siege to Nancy in France. Mary was as well loved in Brugge as her husband, Maximilian of Austria, was loathed. Her finely chiseled effigy captures her beauty. Note that while you can enter the church for free, you'll need a ticket to see most of the major artworks, including the Michelangelo statue.
- Address: Dijver and Mariastraat, Brugge, B8000
- Phone: /
- Cost: Church free; choir museum €4
- Hours: Tues.–Fri. 9:30–5, Sat. 9:30–4:45, Sun. 1:30–5
- Subway: Bus 1 or 12
- Location: Brugge