Due to a bout of heavy snowfall and subsequent Eurostar problems I had to cancel my planned trip to Bruges back in December 2009. I wasn’t gonna let the money I’d spent on a guidebook go to waste though so I took a day trip there back in January when I was over in mainland Europe.
It really was a lovely, picturesque place with its many bridges, canals and medieval buildings. As much as I appreciated that I was there to hunt down the filming locations for the 2008 dark, comedy thriller ‘In Bruges’ featuring Colin Farrell (Ray), Brendan Gleeson (Ken) and Ralph Fiennes (Harry). The former two are Irish hit-men lying low in the Belgian city and they stay at Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel (Wollestraat 41-47) which took me a while to find and in the end I could only snap it from the other side of the water. You can recognise it behind Ken in the screenshot below.
The centre-piece of the place is the Belfry and its 366 steps to the top. Like Ken I chose to pay to go up the tower but wish I hadn’t bothered as the view at the top was very restricted with half under repair and the sun shining very brightly through another part. Ray doesn’t go up in the film because he says he can see “the view of down here” from down here. The negative side of me kind of thinks he may have had a point!
‘t Zwart Huis (the Black House) is the bar where Ray hands a pint of beer to Ken with the not-so politically correct words “One gay beer for my gay friend, one normal beer for me”.
Gruthuse was a really beautiful area and appears in the film a couple of times. Its where Ray discovers a movie with ‘midgets’ (his words not mine!) is being made and its also used at the end of ‘In Bruges’ itself.
Above is Jerusalem Church on Jerusalemstraat that doubled up as the ‘Basilica of the Holy Blood’ where Ken and the intellectually-challenged Ray go sightseeing with Ray using it as an excuse to get out of the hotel which they’re supposed to be hiding away in.
Beneath the Jan Van Eyck statue is where Ken and Ray have a heart-to-heart chat about people they’ve killed with particular regard to the young boy accidentally killed by Ray.
Cafedraal at Zilverstraat 38 is a bar with an awful pun and is where Ray takes Chloe on a date and proceeds to punch a Canadian couple whilst she’s in the toilet.
Its not all bad for the pair though as they have a reconciliation outside on the Meetstraat Bridge between Vismarkt and Groenerel.
Ken is sent by Harry to get a gun from Yuri who lives at 17 Raamstraat which is in reality Koningstraat. Armed with the gun he then goes to kill Ray (who is feeling suicidal) in Koningin Astridpark where the children’s playground and ornamental pavilion both feature.
The photo above is the real bell at the top of the Belfry but as space is very, very limited at the top of the tower Ken’s confrontation with Harry was filmed in the studio. Apart from that, the rest is real with the Marketplace being where Ken plummets and manages to utter a few last gasp words of importance to Ray.
The following photos are just some random ones of Bruges which didn’t pop up in the film but are worthy of footnote inclusion in this article.
Click here to read ‘Belgium Pt I: Sprout & About In Brussels’