In your wanderings around Bruges, you've undoubtedly glimpsed this great Gothic headquarters of the Bishop of Bruges; its extraordinary tower is topped by a strange, later, neo-Romanesque construction of several turrets, spires, multiple, columned buildings standing in the sky—the effect that of a little celestial city, yet utterly appropriate to its setting, and an example of how the mixture of architectural styles can nevertheless create impact and beauty.

Inside, we are back to the Gothic, with numerous decorations from a later age, and with a particularly beautiful choir area of 48 stalls overhung with magnificent tapestries and surmounted with the coats of arms of members of the Order of the Golden Fleece, who met here in 1478. The highlight is a seven-room treasury immediately to the right of the nave as you enter, where numerous reliquaries, displays of vestments, and paintings, include two important triptychs: Dirck Bouts' graphic Martyrdom of St. Hippolytus (1470) and Peter Pourbus' Last Supper (1599). The work by Bouts is a particular masterpiece from the age of the Flemish primitives, its central panel depicting the saint as he is about to be rent asunder by horses tied to each of his arms and legs, while the left-hand panel is of the donors of the painting, the right-hand one of a pagan emperor vainly attempting to persuade Hippolytus to renounce his faith.

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