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vrijdag 31 januari 2014

Donkey business

This week I was walking around Bruges and got started talking to people from Canada. They were amazed by the beauty of Bruges, its narrow streets and many legends.

They read the legend on the swans, and found it really funny how animals can have such an impact on the told stories. Coincidental we stood at the “Blinde Ezelstraat” (Blind Donkey Alley) and I told them this little, but very beautiful street also had an ‘animal-legend’.

View towards the Burg square
When the people from Ghent took the city of Bruges in 1382 they started robbing the city. The symbol of power and wealth of any city was its Belfry. At the top of the belfry of Bruges there was a dragon. The robbers knew they couldn’t take down the Belfry, but decided to take the dragon as their price!
After the long way up and hazardous trip down they loaded the dragon on a cart. When they came at the edge of the city, at the gate which was at the side of the Burg square, the donkey that pulled the cart refused to move one more inch! What the robbers didn’t know was that the donkey was born and raised in Bruges! So knowing they wanted to take the dragon out of the city, the donkey refused to move any further.
Sometimes you’ll be told the robbers blindfolded the donkey, sometimes it’s said the robbers stabbed it in the eyes so it couldn’t see any more. The poor animal didn’t know what was happening and the robbers still got their price.
But, in honor for his effort in trying to keep the dragon in the city, the street where he came to a stop is named “Blind Donkey Alley”.


Blind Donkey Alley seen from the Burg Square
 More realistic, in 1490 there was an inn named “Den Blinden Ezele” (The blind donkey). The ‘Blind donkey’ referred to the fact the brewers blindfolded the donkey in the treadmill of the malt house. So the animals wouldn’t get depressed for doing the same circle over and over again, or not to get dizzy from walking in circles all the time. Again, here you can find both explanations in several books or on sites.

This is in the Alley, where the first gate of the city was. Here the donkey stopped.
But, in personal opinion, a really lovely sight in Bruges! A must see.

And if anyone in interested in seeing the dragon. It is still visible today in the centre of Ghent. Just look up at their Belfry.