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Tony Grist

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Two Towers [Oct. 16th, 2010|09:07 am]
Tony Grist
Obviously the tall towers of medieval Flanders are about wealth and power and civic pride, but I'd also like to think they're a response to- even a protest against- the flatness of the landscape. Here are a couple of them- both in Bruges- the famous Belfry and the tower of Saint Saviour's cathedral. My mother in law says she found them oppressive when she was there fifty years ago- and I understand how they could do that to a person. Personally, I find them exhilarating. I wonder what she'd make of New York.

Somehow their being built of brick makes them all the more impressive. I suppose because bricks are so small. Huge things should be made of huge components- like steel girders- not of tiny things like bricks. I think of the medieval brickies up there on their flimsy scaffolding, patiently adding tiny brick to tiny brick- and it makes me proud to be a homo sapiens.




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Comments:
[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-10-16 03:05 pm (UTC)
Nice photos! And lovely weather, too... Oh, oh, oh, stop this! YOU'RE GIVING ME WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS!!!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-16 04:13 pm (UTC)
Sorry :)

We had terrible weather for Ghent and Ostend- if that's any compensation.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-10-16 04:17 pm (UTC)
We never made it to Ghent. Though we did cycle from Bruges to Ostende, and also did a marathon run from Bruges to Dixmude, which involved about 70 miles in 30 degree heat. It seemed like a good idea at the time, though by our return to Bruges I was almost hallucinating. I wound up riding the wrong way round a 'round point' and getting ranted at by an irate Flemish lady. She was quite right, too...

Ah, I miss getting the cheesey fish-shaped biscuits served in a little bowl with the Hoegaarden...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-16 04:31 pm (UTC)
Ghent is handsome- very like Bruges, with its canals and towers, but less touristy and busier. It made me think of a big northern British city- of the magnitude of Leeds or Newcastle.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2010-10-16 09:22 pm (UTC)
Wow. *cranes neck* Those are made of brick... amazing.

(Although the fact that I pent so many years of living in earthquake country shows in the fact that my first response was, "Gee, clearly they don't get earthquakes in Belgium, do they?" Because all that pretty brick stair-step edging on the house facades would be gone if they did.)
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2010-10-16 09:23 pm (UTC)
Wait, not "pent". Spent. *goes to put on glasses*
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-17 07:52 am (UTC)
Photographs can't ever quite capture just how awesomely high these things are.

There's not much stone in the Low Countries- but there's plenty of clay.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2010-10-17 10:29 pm (UTC)
*nods* There is indeed, and it makes sense that they'd get very very good with it.

I've been told by another friend who has spent time in Belgium that the towers can be seen for miles, and it's not just due to the flatness of the landscape; it's also the height of the towers.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-18 08:09 am (UTC)
In an English medieval town you'd have one tall tower or spire- usually on the cathedral or parish church, but these Flemish towns have two, three, four apiece.

Your friend is right. These are very tall towers- even by modern standards. They're medieval skyscrapers.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2010-10-18 01:39 pm (UTC)
I sent him links to your entries and he loves your pictures. He motorcycled through Belgium on a series of music gigs in the 90s. He says you really caught the look and feel of the place!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-19 08:23 pm (UTC)
That's great. Thank you.
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