As I live in Amsterdam - which is about 3 a hour drive from Bruges by car, this tour is best started from Amsterdam so we can use this 3 hour trip to the fullest, with a fine lecture on Dutch and Belgian cultural history on the way! This makes it a fun trip, and an educational, university level 101 course on Dutch and Belgian culture.
Let's first go from Amsterdam to Ghent by car and I will show to you what changes are visible in Dutch and Belgian architecture and the underlying social attitudes. Experienmce shows that going from Amsterdam to Bruges + Ghent and then back to Amsterdam is pretty exhausting. Better to spend 1 night there.
A great alternative route to go south is to take the highway to Rotterdam, then take the seaside road to witness at the magnificent engineering of the Delta waterworks and then proceed to take the 6 KM long underwater tunnel under the Westerschelde (Scheldt) to Flanders. Takes up 3 extra hours.
In Ghent we will see this stupendous Van Eyck Altarpiece. The polyptych (multi-panel) work) is in the St Bavo Cathedral.
Words can hardly describe this fabulous set of paintings. Jan van Eyck in bright technicolor. A half an one hour visit to this Ghent Altarpiece, The famous Michelin travel guide calls it "vaut le visite", entirely worth the trip, and so it is! I wrote a review article on a fine DVD. And then a quick bite in a restaurant... the Flemish know how to cook! In my explanation I will discuss christian iconography and church teachings as well.
Van Eyck wanted to create a VERY complicated Christian set of paintings. Original documents have disappeared. Therefore al present day explanations are tentative.
2012-2013: Parts of this altarpiece are being restored in Ghent, at Caermersklooster, Provinciaal Cultuurcentrum Caermersklooster, address Vrouwebroerstraat 6 - 9000 GENT open from 10 to 17 h, closed on Mondays.
We may travel on to In Bruges / Brugge. On arrival in Bruges / Brugge, our educational and fun day trip, we see a well preserved fine old town which contains great mediaeval architecture and two top of the bill works of art: The Canon van der Paele painting by Van Eyck in the Groeninge museum and the statue of the Madonna by Michelangelo. And then there is the wonderful town layout!
A third party endorsement, October 2012:
"I have always wanted to know more about art and architecture and in Drs. Kaldenbach found the perfect tour guide! I chose Brugge and Ghent because I was interested in the Van Eyck works. Drs. Kaldenbach gave a great history of both of the pieces we saw, which heightened my appreciation for them. Learning about Dutch and Belgian history and the importance of water engineering and social engineering in their histories will really help me in my teaching in The Netherlands. Seeing the architecture and having a great explanation of styles was really cool. The overall experience was wonderful and I highly recommend Drs. Kaldenbach for your tour!
Thank you again for everything!
Dr. Magdeline Aagard, EdD, MBA, RN
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This is Bruges, our educational and fun day trip, seen from the air... The slant of the various towers and buildings betray where the camera position at the moment this picture was taken.
A windmill on the rampart. A great monster of a city gate. We may enter the town by this Kruispoort gate and proceed through the Nieuwstraat. All photos have been taken February 16, 2008 and are copyright by Drs Kees Kaldenbach, 2008. Except for the aerial and the Van Eyck painting.
Strolling down the Nieuwstraat, to the center we get a first exciting glimpe of the town's incredible beauty. Picture taken from the Predikherenrei street.
Walking on, the town unfolds... and then it gets even better... although we may also ask questions whether the town is suffering a bit of "Disneyfication", an overzealous restoration drive to re-create a fancy make-believe historical past.
"Textielwaren" or Textile wares. The text is in Dutch, but the attitude may be easy going Flemish. Historically Bruges is a city of manifold texiles industries, such as the heavy black woollen cloth (the garb of the businessman), fine white linens, and later on also embroidery and needlepoint. In this picture you see some forgotten and tattered textiles. In the window an artful self portrait of the Art Historian with Camera.
A ray of sunshine highlighting a brick house on Nieuwstraat. The structure of the relieving arches above the windows indicates an entirely different setup in earlier days. In Dutch this curved architectural element is called 'ontlastingsboog'.
Sun light strikes the Madonna by Michelangelo in Our Lady's Church, Bruges. In 2012 a glass protection shield was added.
All photos have been taken February 16, 2008 and are copyright by Drs Kees Kaldenbach, 2008. Except for the aerial, the maps and the Van Eyck.
Marcus Gerards Map of Bruges, 1562
By order of the Bruges city government Marcus Gerards engraved 10 copper plates in 1562, showing the plan of Bruges and its harbours of Sluis and Damme. Prints and the original copper plates are found in the print room, the 'Prentenkabinet van de Stedelijke Musea'. One may browse this map in incredible detail on the website www.huizenonderzoekbrugge.be. The Bruges city archives (Stadsarchief) is one of the founding partners of this site. The map has also been published on a CD rom.
"Brugae Flandrorum Urbs" Map by Marcus Gerards, engraved on 10 copper plates in 1562.
Hold your breath! Detail of the center from a map by Marcus Gerards, engraved on 10 copper plates in 1562.
Even more eye candy detail on this map of Bruges by Marcus Gerards, engraved on 10 copper plates in 1562.
Incredible detail of the belfort tower, town hall, on this map of Bruges by Marcus Gerards, engraved on 10 copper plates in 1562.
Our lady church on the map of Bruges by Marcus Gerards, engraved on 10 copper plates in 1562.
By order of the city government Marcus Gerards engraved 10 copper plates in 1562, showing the plan of Brugge / Bruges and its harbours of Sluis and Damme. These prints and the original copper plates are found in the print room, the 'Prentenkabinet van de Stedelijke Musea'. One may browse this map in incredible detail on the website www.huizenonderzoekbrugge.be. The Bruges city archives (Stadsarchief) is one of the main founding partners of this site. The map has also been published on a CD rom.
A side trip to the city of Damme is also feasible.
Travel preparation advice specificaly focused on art, culture, museums.
In SPAIN I have visited these towns and can give you very good pointers: Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, Valencia, Cordoba, Malaga, Granada.
In ITALY I have visited these towns and can give you very good pointers: Rome, Pisa, Florence, Tarquinia, Napels, Venice, Milan.
In FRANCE I am knowledgeable about high culture in Paris, Versailles, Lyon, Nice, Chartres, Loire castles, Grenoble, Limoges, Bordeaux.
In ENGLAND/UK/Ireland I can give you pointers in the art cities of London, Oxford, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Dublin.
In SWITSERLAND I visited museums of Geneva, Basel.
In GERMANY this Germany page will give you a good overview.
As an art historian based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, I can also meet you in Bruges for a personalized guided tour of art museums and the historic center.
Together we will experience the beauty and history . Enjoy yourself and learn about history while strolling and discussing the country's history, art and culture. In doing so, we may touch many bases - spanning not only fine art and architecture but also the city's history and current social issues. See client testimonials.
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If you want to just walk around with a very nice social companion for a day, we recommend www.friends4action.com
Starting at your hotel I will take you on a wonderful private cultural walking tour of your choice. My guided itinerary offers you accessable informative conversation in English, Dutch, or German (my French and Italian are more limited).
You may also arrange this VIP treatment for business contacts or friends. Our cultural tour organisation office will take care of a unique and memorable experience.
Drs. Kees Kaldenbach is your private "scholar-lecturer on culture tours" *.
*Martha Gellhorn, Travels with Myself and another, p. 182.
Please contact me for time and fees of the tailor-made tour you ar interested in.
These tailor made tours are available upon request - please contact me to book a date. Minimum group size: 1 person. Maximum group size is limited to about 10 persons. With a megaphone I can also manage larger groups on the streets.
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The Rijksmuseum has done me the honor of linking the main Rijksmuseum site to my website. Start at www.rijksmuseum.nl and select Collection. Then choose 'Digital Collaboration' and the 'Digital Vermeer House'.
I conduct Rembrandt walks in Amsterdam for the Netherlands Bureau of Tourism, London and New York City offices. Their clients include important journalists.
The travel site www.luxurytraveler.com has devoted a main feature to my tours and walks.
Read further client testimonials.
Read a biography.
Drs. Kees Kaldenbach has been featured in television and radio documentaries, including BBC2 TV, NTV Japan, Danish TV and Radio Netherlands World Service. In July 2004 he was interviewed about Bruges artists by Tetsuya Tsuruhara for the leading Japanese newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbun. In 2004 and 2005 he acted in an advisory role to additional BBC teams. Kaldenbach has written extensively on Vermeer and 17th century Bruges, on Vincent van Gogh and on other art history topics.
Drs. Kees Kaldenbach is your private "scholar-lecturer on culture tours".
Further information is available on his encyclopedic web site: www.johannesvermeer.info
Drs. Kaldenbach is chairman of the Circle of Academic Tour Guides of the Netherlands and Flanders (CATON)
Drs. Kees Kaldenbach , firstname.lastname@example.org
Haarlemmermeerstraat 83 hs
1058 JS Amsterdam
telephone 020 - 669 8119 (from abroad NL +20 - 669 8119)
cell phone 06 - 2868 9775 (from abroad NL +6 - 2868 9775)
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Member of the VVV Tourist information and the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel).
Email responses and bookings to art historian Drs. Kees Kaldenbach.
This page forms part of the 2000+ item Vermeer web site at www.xs4all.nl/~kalden
Launched february 22, 2008. Last update 17 feb. 2013.