Museum Sint-Janshospitaal

Top choice Museum

in South Bruges
kavalenkava volha / Shutterstock
kavalenkava volha / Shutterstock

In the restored chapel of a 12th-century hospital building with superb timber beamwork, this museum shows various torturous-looking medical implements, hospital sedan chairs and a gruesome 1679 painting of an anatomy class. But it's much better known for its six masterpieces by 15th-century artist Hans Memling, including the enchanting reliquary of St Ursula. This gilded oak reliquary looks like a miniature Gothic cathedral, painted with scenes from the life of St Ursula, including highly realistic Cologne cityscapes.

The largest of the Memlings on display is the triptych of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist, commissioned by the hospital church as its altarpiece. Look out for St Catherine (with spinning wheel) and St Barbara, both seated at the feet of the Virgin. The artist's secular portrayals are just as engrossing as the devotional work, and include the delicate Portrait of a Young Woman (1480), in which the subject's hands rest on the painted frame of her portrait.

Your ticket also allows visits to the hospital’s restored 17th-century apotheek (pharmacy), accessed by an easily missed rear door. The glazed cloisters of the building you walk through to enter it are very attractive.