10 Famous Cathedrals & Churches In Belgium | Historical Churches In Belgium26th May 2023
Belgium is renowned for its breathtaking architecture and its religious structures are some of the nations most visited landmarks. From grand and elaborate Cathedrals to smaller churches and chapels, the country’s cathedrals and churches are often open to the public and display incredible art and artifacts, as well as hosting regular services.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the most famous historical cathedrals and churches in Belgium and discover what makes them unique.
Famous Cathedrals & Churches In Belgium To Visit
1. Notre Dame Cathedral, Brussels
Notre Dame Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church located in the center of Brussels, Belgium. The cathedral dates back to the 12th century, and is a popular tourist attraction in the city. It has a wealth of Gothic architecture, with a signature tall spire and intricate sculptures.
The cathedral contains many precious artifacts and artworks, including several 16th-century tapestries. Its interior is also known for its golden organ and its intricate stained-glass windows. Notre Dame Cathedral is an important cultural icon for the city of Brussels, and hosts several festivals, pilgrimages, and ceremonies throughout the year.
2. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral (in French Cathédrale Saints-Michel-et-Gudule de Bruxelles) is the most prominent religious building in Brussels, Belgium. Located on the Treurenberg hill, the church is named after two Christian saints, Michael and Gudula. The cathedral dates back to the 11th century and has a rich history of architectural styles encompassing Romanesque, early Gothic, and later Gothic.
It is recognized for its two magnificent towers and Baroque interior design, as well as its impressive stained-glass windows, which feature religious figures from the Old Testament, Christian martyrs, and important figures from the history of the Church in the Brussels area. The building is also home to several works of art, including sculptures, altars, and an 18th-century organ. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral is open to the public and regularly hosts concerts and church services.
3. Church of Our Lady, Bruges
The Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium is one of the most famous and ancient sites in the country. It a prominent and iconic symbol of Bruges and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Church dates back to 1245 and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
It is widely regarded as one of the best preserved examples of brick Gothic architecture in the region. The church was initially designed to be the tallest building in Bruges, and still remains the second tallest with its towers rising over 122 m (400 ft).
The exterior of the church is made from several geometric shapes, such as the octagonal bell tower, and its interior is filled with artwork – including sculptures, frescos, and a large altarpiece from the 15th century. The church also provides regular church services for its congregation and welcomes visitors from around the world, making it a popular tourist destination.
4. St. Martin’s Cathedral, Ypres
St. Martin’s Cathedral, Ypres, Belgium is a Roman Catholic church located in the city center of Ypres, Belgium. It was built around the year 1221, making it one of the oldest churches in the country. It was destroyed during World War I, but was rebuilt in the early 1920s.
The church dates back to 1066, when it was commissioned by Count Robert I of Flanders. The church was originally dedicated to Saint Martin, the patron saint of Ypres. Its Romanesque structure, with Gothic elements added in later years, has been standing for centuries, and remains one of the most beloved historic monuments in the city. The church is also known for its beautiful stained glass windows, which depict scenes from the Bible, as well as the life of Saint Martin.
The church is open daily and offers an array of activities for visitors, including regular events, such as concerts and lectures. Visitors can also take in the incredible beauty of the stained glass windows, which remain unaltered since their creation, as well as the stunning view of the city of Ypres from the outside. Finally, the church can be a place for personal reflection or prayer, and visitors can also light a candle and leave it in a special chapel.
5. St. Rumbolds Cathedral, Mechelen
St. Rumbold’s Cathedral is an ecclesiastical building in Mechelen, Belgium, and one of the most important Gothic monuments in the country. The original church on the site was built in the 8th century, but the extant structure dates from the 15th century, when construction began in 1452. The cathedral is renowned for its richly decorated façade and grand interior, with a wealth of sculptures, stained glass, tapestries and paintings. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
The cathedral towers over the skyline of Mechelen, and is the focus of much of the city’s cultural activity. It houses a number of significant tombs, including that of Margaret of Austria, a regent of the Netherlands, and Maria of Austria, who was the first wife of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
St. Rumbold’s Cathedral also actively promotes musical and cultural events throughout the year. Organ recitals, children’s concerts and classical music concerts are held in the spectacular atmosphere of the cathedral, soon to be joined by the Singing Hall, a modern concert hall which is currently being constructed by the Landao Brothers in the nave of the cathedral.
6. St. Nicholas’ Church, Antwerp
St. Nicholas’ Church in Antwerp, Belgium is a Roman Catholic church located in the city center. It is one of the most prominent churches in the city, with its distinctive Baroque architecture. The church was built in the mid-17th century by architect Peter van Avermaet. It is considered to be one of the most important Baroque monuments in the city.
The church is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of the city of Antwerp. Inside the church, visitors can find grand furniture made from natural stone, marble, and natural wood. Visitors can also admire the beautiful stained glass windows and the vast ceiling frescos.
The church is also popular for its organ, which is the largest in the country. The organ has 4,632 pipes and has only been recently renovated in 2005.
The church remains an important part of Antwerp and is still a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. There are many services and events, such as Masses, concerts, lectures, and weddings that take place in St. Nicholas’ Church.
7. St. Bavo’s Cathedral, Ghent
St. Bavo’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Cathedral located in the center of the Belgian city of Ghent. It is a Gothic building completed in 1559 and is dedicated to Saint Bavo. It is the seat of the Bishop of Ghent and the primary church of the Church of Ghent.
It is known for its impressive architecture, with many flying buttresses and impressive stained-glass windows. It is also known for its rich artistic works, including the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb painting and the high-altar adorned with numerous sculptures. The cathedral has a long and complicated history, dating back to the 8th century, and hosts weekly public masses as well as special events.
8. Notre Dame of Laeken, Brussels
Notre Dame of Laeken (Notre Dame de Laeken) is a Roman Catholic church located in the municipality of Laeken, Brussels, Belgium. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Laeken and part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brussels-West. The church was constructed between 1896 and 1909 in a Gothic Revival architectural style.
It was designed by the Belgian Architect Victor Horta and is considered to be one of the masterpieces of modern architecture. The exterior is constructed of brick and stained glass and the interior features a vast nave, transept, chevet and ambulatory.
The church features many of the characteristic features of Gothic Revival architecture, including a double aisle structure and rib vaults. The church is a popular tourist attraction and is listed as a heritage site of national importance.
9. St. James’ Church, Antwerp
St. James’ Church of Antwerp is a Gothic church in Antwerp, Belgium. Built in the early 16th century, it is one of the most important landmarks of Antwerp. It is a Roman Catholic church, and its main feature is its Gothic interior. The church stands 80m high, making it one of the tallest churches in Belgium.
The church was originally founded in the 13th century, but it was damaged by fire in the late 16th century and rebuilt with Gothic features. Today, the church is a major tourist attraction, and its features include stained glass windows, an organ, and a baroque altarpiece. The main attractions of the church are its massive tower and unique interior.
The church also serves as the site for many religious services throughout the year. It is also available for weddings, baptisms, funerals, and other special events. Visitors to the church are encouraged to take part in a guided tour of the site, which provides an in-depth look at the history and architecture of the building.
For those who are interested in visiting the church, it is open every day from 9am to 6pm. There is no admission fee, but there are limited opportunities for guided tours.
10. Church of Our Lady, Tongeren
The Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwkerk) is a Roman Catholic church located in Tongeren, Belgium. The church is a Gothic Revival structure that was built between 1868 and 1872 and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
It houses many historic works of art and a pipe organ. The church is a famous tourist attraction in the city and is also a popular wedding destination. It is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hasselt.
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