The town of Peer takes its association with Pieter Bruegel the Elder very seriously. The town’s tourism office dispels any doubt as to the painter’s birthplace – even though it’s not that cut and dried.
The only mention of Bruegel’s birthplace is in a book dating from 1603 entitled “The life of Pieter Bruegel, a famous painter from Brueghel” by Karel Van Mander. According to Van Mander, Bruegel “was born in Brabant in an obscure farmers’ village named Brueghel and located not far from Breda”.
There are two possible locations for this farmers’ village. One is Breugel near Eindhoven, the Netherlands, although this is 60 km from Breda. The other is Brogel near Peer, Belgium, in the region that was once called Brabant. Not surprisingly, the latter theory is very popular in Peer, self-styled Bruegelstad, or Bruegel town. Despite the fact that Peer is also not particularly close to Breda.
Anyway, proud of its association with Bruegel, the town of Peer has laid out an attractive 25-kilometer cycle route through the surrounding countryside. At convenient intervals, you can take a break and examine large-scale reproductions of Bruegel’s paintings that are believed to represent the countryside around Peer, including the following:
In addition, full-size reproductions of his paintings are displayed in the Bruegel Museum in Peer. This is well worth a visit at it enables you to take in the whole of his entire oeuvre in one go. You can get audio guide in Dutch, English, French and German and watch a short movie explaining Bruegel’s life story.