Hidden Belgium: The Jerusalem Chapel

Hidden Belgium: The Jerusalem Chapel

You might think, no, Bruges is not for me. Too many tourists. But you just need to walk a few steps from the busy centre to find the secret spots that tourists rarely discover.

You might even be the only visitor inside the mysterious Jeruzalemkerk built in 1428 by the brothers Pieter and Jacob Adorno.

Modelled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the interior is on two levels, with family tombs, a strange Crucifixion and a replica of Christ’s tomb located in a dark crypt you have to crawl inside.

An impressive black marble tomb is dedicated to Anselm Adorno, son of Pieter, and his wife Margaretha van der Back.

Anselm served the Duke of Burgundy on several diplomatic missions, including one to the court of James III in Scotland. Anselm was appointed by James III as keeper of the privileges of the Scottish merchant community in Bruges.

It turned out to be the worst job in the world. Anselm was murdered in a monastery near North Berwick on a visit to Scotland in 1483. His body was buried at Linlithgow Palace, while his heart was returned to Bruges in a lead casket.

Seven centuries on, the chapel is still owned by descendants of Pieter and Jacob Adorno. They have created a small museum dedicated to the family history as well as a handsome dining room known as the Scottish Lounge where they serve tea and shortbread biscuits.

It appears the Scots have been forgiven.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.

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