The tension between commerce and piety is a defining part of Bruges's history.
Bruges has long been a pilgrimage city – its striking, Gothic religious art an exhortation to focus on celestial matters. But many of the greatest religious artworks of the day were funded by wealthy donors, most of whom made their money in the town's various trades.
Huidenvettersplein – in English, Tanners' Square – is a reminder that Bruges' wealth arose from waves of trade and craft. The square was the traditional workplace of leather-makers, until the smell aroused complaints and the tanners' workshops were moved out of the city center.
Today, the compact square features many monuments to Bruges' past in industry: the plaques harken back to various professions, including the dairy trade (depicted here), while a different kind of commerce occupies the city's centre: Huidenvettersplein is known for its art and antique markets.
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