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Holy Blood BasilicaTop 10

The Basilica of the Holy Blood is one of Bruges’ most famous sights. Since the Middle Ages, the oldest building on Burg Square has housed an ampulla that is said to contain the blood of Christ. Since 1291, the relic has been carried through the city every year on Ascension Day as part of the solemn procession of the Holy Blood.

In the 12th century, Saint Basil’s Chapel was built in the Romanesque style. It houses the Gothic Holy Blood Basilica on the upper floor, which was reconstructed in the 19th century after being destroyed during the French Revolution.

The art treasures of Saint Basil’s Church

The lower chapel is considered the only Romanesque church that has been preserved completely and unchanged in the West of Flanders. Its patron saint is Saint Basil the Great. The church was originally the family chapel of Count Dietrich of Alsace and later the count’s chapel of his son Philip.

Saint Basil’s Church houses a large number of ecclesiastical treasures in the nave. In addition to paintings and a depiction of the baptism of the church’s namesake, several relics and reliquaries can be admired. Among them is a relic of St. Basil. More recent are two sculptures carried in the procession of the Holy Blood on Ascension Day: a Pieta and a representation of Christ.

The upper chapel of the Holy Blood Basilica

Already the ascent to the upper chapel through the splendidly decorated staircase from the 16th century is an experience. In the chapel itself, three round arches still remind us of the original Romanesque construction. Gilded paintings, stained glass and wall paintings tell the story of the church and its secular and clerical princes in vivid colours. If you look closely, you can also discover the pictorial representation of the journey of the Holy Blood Relic from Jerusalem to Bruges. It is kept in the basilica and presented to the faithful during the Friday Eucharist.

Brügge - Heilig-Blut-Basilika Innenraum
The upper chapel of the basilica. Photo: Cezary Wojtkowski / Shutterstock.com

The procession of the Holy Blood in Bruges

On Ascension Day, the relic of the Holy Blood is carried through Bruges in a magnificent procession. In a sea of color, clergymen solemnly carry the shrine past an estimated 50,000 visitors and faithful. This Christian custom has been a fixture in Bruges since the 13th century. At that time, the guilds and guilds, councillors and soldiers represented in the city were obliged to join the procession. After several interruptions over the centuries, the procession of the Holy Blood is now a celebration of the city’s most powerful period in the 15th century and is held in the style of the time.

Brügge - Heilig-Blut-Basilika Prozession
Photo: Botond Horvath / Shutterstock.com

Tickets and prices

  • The visit to the church is free of charge.
  • Admission to the treasury is 2.50 euros. Children up to and including 12 years have free admission