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“Well Worth A Visit”
Review of Sint-Janshospitaal

Sint-Janshospitaal
Ranked #42 of 153 things to do in Bruges
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Sint-Janshospitaal owns six masterpieces by the Flemish primitive artist Hans Memling, as well as many religious paintings and sculptures. Objects of applied art, such as furniture, silverwork, medical instruments, reliquaries, archive documents, and apothecary pots reflect 800 years of care. Sint-Janshospitaal is one of the oldest preserved hospital buildings in Europe. In the museum, you can learn more about hospital life in the past and how the wards would have looked then. Furniture, paintings, sculptures, silverware, and pewterware are the silent witnesses of the care for bodies and souls that took place in this hospital through the centuries. The building’s supporting framework is also unique and is one of the oldest and largest in Europe. The old apothecary’s and herb garden is also well worth a visit. In the hospital chapel, the focus is all on the work of the most famous of the Flemish Primitives: Hans Memling. This painter lived and worked in Bruges in the 15th century and created his most important masterpieces here, including the famous Shrine of St Ursula, which was painted specifically for Sint-Janshospitaal.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access, Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed October 26, 2013

We found this a very interesting place to visit not only for the art. The displays related to the hospital were facinating and we also enjoyed the apothocary. The Memling works are certainly worth the visit.

Thank dccv1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"medical instruments"
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"medieval hospital"
in 24 reviews
"memling works"
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"medical care"
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"religious art"
in 13 reviews
"on display"
in 27 reviews
"worth a visit"
in 35 reviews
"great art"
in 8 reviews
"middle ages"
in 19 reviews
"museum pass"
in 15 reviews
"beautiful building"
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"medieval times"
in 7 reviews
"interesting museum"
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in 44 reviews
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in 61 reviews
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Reviewed October 24, 2013

I was hoping to see three works by Memling at the Sint-Janshospitaal: his St. Ursula Shrine covered with the narrative of that saint's ministry and martyrdom, his magnificent St. John Hospital Altarpiece and the stunning Maarten van Nieuwehove diptych in which the young man appears to be praying to the Virgin herself. Everything else was gravy. And there was a lot of gravy. There were cool medieval liturgical objects and a section devoted to medical history, including fascinating images from the history of the hospital itself. The Memlings were beautiful, and there were four more than I was expecting, including a lovely portrait of an unknown woman and two small triptychs. Unfortunately the reverse of the wings was not well enough illuminated for me to see if St. Wilgefortis was depicted with a beard (the miracle that kept her from having to marry and spoil her virginity). The ticket also included admission to the evocative hospital pharmacy, where you could imagine the sisters brewing up concoctions for their patients.

1  Thank Albiart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 24, 2013

It is hard to believe that this was once a hospital, but beautifully done, the part that is dedicated to the hospital is quite facinating

1  Thank JulieR36186258
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2013

We have visited the Memling Museum at Sin-Jan Hospital each time we come to Brugge. The display of the early artwork, along with period furniture, is a treat for us. The history of the hospital and paintings depicting its use are very edifying as well. The Memling paintings and alterpiece alone are worth the visit. The Museum is spacious, and the displays well lighted and thoughtfully placed.

Thank the2vus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 18, 2013

There are really two museums in this building, with separate entrances. The main museum has an interesting collection of items and paintings that show what it was like when it was a hospital. In addition it has some incredible art pieces, true masters of Flemish primitive style mostly of religious themes, plus a collection of silver reliquaries. This all housed in a spacious (cavernous?) building that adds a sense of scale.

For me, however, the highlight was the second museum in the building - the Picasso exhibit which is in a different part of the museum with a different entrance. It is a "special" exhibit which means that it's not covered by the museum pass. But it was well worth the extra fee. (You can find fliers about the exhibit that offer 1 Euro off the price) Many (supposedly 300 but I didn't count) of Picasso's relatively unknown works and drawings, plus a good collection of Miro plus Rodin, Chagall, Magritte and other impressionists. I spent most of my time in this exhibit and loved it. One aspect I particularly enjoyed was the posters along the way that provided the context of what was going on in Picasso's life at that time - very illuminating! They also described the friendships between Picasso and Miro and other artists. I enjoyed getting "the story" of the many phases of his art and life and seeing how they weave together. The Picasso exhibit (along with the other artists included in it) was definitely a highlight of Brugge for me!

Thank Dorcas K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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