The streets Hemelrijk and Oliestraat are without any doubt the most peculiar streets in Bruges.  Brick walls where-ever you look. Definitely this is so far off the beaten track of tourism. I’m convinced you’re not seeing any tourists here, even anyone at all! Only people, who really need to be here, come here.

Two poor farmers, with many children, had a small farm in this area. In winter, every night a carriage passed through this street (which didn’t even had a name yet). A carriage pulled by four black horses. With a thundering noise, sounding like a hundred wild animals were unleashed, they passed the farm. You could hear the horses stomping and snorting. Fire was coming out of the horses nostrils, eyes as glowing pieces of coal. The carriage made rattling and creaking noise, making you think it would buckle any second. On the stage sat the Devil himself. Every night, at midnight, the carriage left at the cemetery, with inside the souls of those who went to purgatory and hell. At least that is what was told, for no one ever saw the carriage.

The farmer and his wife lay in bed, listening until the carriage was passed. The children, up on the attic cried in fear, “Mother, what is that? What is happening outside?”
Every time their mother answered, “Will you sleep now? It’s the carriage from hell. It’s taking the children who are not sleeping to hell.”
One night, when the family heard the carriage approaching, the wife said to her husband, “I would like to see what this carriage of hell looks like. I’m wondering what is making all that noise outside.”
“Stay inside and try to sleep.” her husband replied, not really trusting the hole thing. But – as so many women are – his wife was way too curious to just lie there and listen. Plus, she was stubborn.
She opened the window to see what was happening outside, but all she saw was a piece of hot-glowing coal in the middle of the road.
“There’s no carriage to be seen, only a piece of coal. If I would have that, it’ll much easier to light the fire tomorrow morning.” she said.
Sighing and reluctant her husband got out of bed, got the coal shovel to get the piece of hot coal.
“Tomorrow I only need to blow the coal a bit and we’ll have a nice fire going quickly.” his wife said. Soon they fell asleep…

The farm “Hemelrycke” in 1895.

The next morning, at the break of dawn, the farmer’s wife got up, took the piece of coal to get the fire going. Her husband was still putting on his socks when he heard her shouting in the living room. “What’s going on? Did you burn yourself?” he asked as he got in the room.
Without saying a word and trembling, his wife pointed towards the fireplace. The wood and ash was gone, even the piece of coals wasn’t there any more, but a green skull with red eyes was in its place.
“So it was the carriage of hell.” whispered the farmer.
They were too afraid to try and start a fire that day. When the children had left for school, they went to see the priest in St Anne church, to tell him the story and ask for help. When the priest heard the story, he turned white in fear. The wife asked the priest to come to the house and bless the house to exorcise the evil in the fireplace. But the priest knew he was no match for the Devil himself! Instead he gave the farmers the advice to throw the green skull on the carriage when it would pass by the following night.
That evening, the farmer and his wife were in bed, waiting for the carriage. The only thing they did was pray as they waited. As the bells on the belfry struck midnight, they heard the thundering noise in the distance.
The husband ran to the living room, took the green skull, ran back upstairs where his wife already opened the window. As he looked outside, for a brief moment, he gazed straight in the carriage for one split-second, but it felt almost like eternity to him.
He saw demons, men and women wriggling in fierce flames. The demons were laughing, but the unfortunate souls of humans were clearly in agonizing pain.
Quickly he threw the skull through the open window towards the carriage. Luckily, the green skull went through one of the windows, landing in the carriage. A strong smell of sulfur and pitch was almost overwhelming the farmer, so he closed his eyes and put his hand over mouth and nose. When he thought it was safe and opened his eyes, the carriage was nowhere to be seen. Since that night the carriage never passed by again.
Maybe it was then that this street got the name ‘Hemelrijk’ (Heavenly or Kingdom of Heaven).