In Brussels we are used to call the Cathédrale St-Michel by the name of Sainte Gudule whose statue stands above an entry.
During the 50 years I lived in Brussel, I always saw the cathedral with dirty dark grey stones, it's only when I left that they started cleaning and restoring the church outside and inside. To make appear the colors of the Gobertange stone ( in Walloon Brabant).
It's by hazard that I found on a Sunday evening a (free) parking place next to the cathedral so that I took this photo and came to the conclusion that the architect Van Ruysbroeck (who also built the tower of the Hôtel de Ville) made a great job in the 15th c. with these strong and elegant towers perfect examples of the Gothique Brabançon.
The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula was originally built in the middle of the 11th century, but has been rebuilt many times since then. It is named after the patron saints of the city of Brussels, and is the official church of the royal family. Many royal events have taken place here, like the wedding of King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola in 1960, the funeral of King Baudouin in 1993, and the wedding of Prince Philip and Lady Mathilde in 1999.
The cathedral is huge... Around 110 meters long, 55 meters wide, and the height of the towers are 64 meters. The interior is beautful; white and brigth, stained-glass windows, impressive pulpit, and many sculptures and decorations. The old crypt is only open on request so I didn't visit... But I paid a small fee and visited the Cathedral Treasure with many religious items on display, and I saw the remains of the 11th century Romanesque church which are exhibited in the basement.
The building of the St Gudule and Michael's Cathedral started in 1226, whereas the facade dates from the 15th century.
Although only granted cathedral status in 1962, Sts Michel et Gudule is the national church of Belgium. It is an excellent example of Brabant Gothic architecture. Work beagn on the cathedral in 1225 (replacing an earlier 11th century church) and took over 300 years. The two front towers were the last part to complete in the early 16th century under Charles V.
For a catholic cathedral it is surprisingly bare inside. This may be as a result of ransacking by Protestants in 1579/80 and French revolutionaries in 1783.
The flaboyant carved pulpit in thecentral aisle was installed in 1776 and is the work of Antwerp sculptor Verbruggen.
It is located on the border between the upper and the lower zone of Brussels, at the top of the hill Treurenberg. Due to its location in the capital in recent years has been used as a venue for Catholic ceremonies of national importance such as royal weddings, christenings and state funerals.
Está situada en la frontera entre la zona alta y la zona baja de Bruselas, en la cima de la colina Treurenberg. Debido a su ubicación en la capital del país, en los últimos años ha sido utilizada como lugar de celebración de ceremonias católicas de importancia nacional, tales como bodas reales, bautizos y funerales de Estado.
“A truth that disheartens because it is true is of more value than the most stimulating of falsehoods.”
— Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949, Belgian Nobel Prize winner for Literature, 1911)
The beauty of the Cathedral of Saint Gudula and Saint Michael is how artists can use their talents to contribute to the celebration of the love of God for all. The use of art to express man’s love for God has a long tradition within the Roman Catholic Church. The stained glass windows, some designed by Bernard van Orley, a 16th-century court painter, are spectacular. François I of France, Philippe le Beau of Burgundy, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Philip II of Spain have been amongst those who donated the richly colored stained glass windows.
Dominican friar Alain Arnould has been appointed by Godfried Cardinal Danneels as chaplain to artists in Brussels. This includes actors, musicians, painters and dancers. Each Sunday, between the October and 6.January, the Feast of the Epiphany, as well as between the start of Lent and Pentecost, the Masses celebrated welcome professional actors and musicians for a joyful celebration. During summer, Mass at 10 o’clock is sung by a choir. The Sunday after Saint Cecilia’s Day, the annual Mass of the Artists celebrates the artistic talents which God has given to each of us and commemorates the deceased artists of the past year.
Each year Belgian and foreign artists are given an opportunity to exhibit their work in the Cathedral. Concerts bring together traditional and contemporary musicians to perform in this outstanding venue.
The Cathedral’s Stations of the Cross were dramatically lighted (see photo #4); and Michael the Archangel is prominently represented (see photo #5).
“Few cities have a cathedral in so impressive a position as St. Gudule — on a steep hill-top, with a long flight of steps at the base of its towers.”
— from “Transatlantic Sketches” 1875 by Henry James
IMPRESSIVE IMPRESSION Along with the grand staircase, built in 1861, the park that stretches out in front of the cathedral helps add to the open and impressive look of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudule.
As early as the beginning of the 11th century a chapel dedicated to St. Michael stood on this site. When the relics of St. Gudula were brought to the chapel on the Treurenberg Hill in 1047, the church of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula was established.
The look of the present church dates from the renovation that was carried out between the 13th and 15th centuries. The style was changed from Romanesque to Gothic. The most recent renovation was completed in November 1999; the following month the marriage of Belgium’s Crown Prince Philippe took place here.
In July of 1803 a Te Deum was celebrated here with Napoleon and his wife Joséphine present. Twelve years later another Te Deum celebrated the Napoleon’s defeat at nearby Waterloo.
The Cathedral Sts Michel-et-Gudule is the national church of Belgium, but has only been a cathedral since 1962. It was built 1226 in the Brabant Gothic style (named after Henry I, Duke of Brabant who began construction) and is one of the best examples that remains of this type of architecture. The cathedral has had its share of bad tidings, but was never completely destroyed – more from the iconoclast damage and French revolutionaries ransacking the building.
The interior has been redone in a Baroque style and contains some wonderful stained glass windows that date from the 1500s. The pulpit is a flamboyant Baroque style and shows Saint Michael (one of the saints of Brussels whom the church is named after) killing the dragon. The other saint the church is named after is Saint Gudule – a local woman from the 8th century and another patron saint of Brussels.
The nave of the cathedral is lined with statues of the 12 apostles, each with a gilded symbol – an example would be the keys of St. Peter are gilded on the stone statue. These statues are Baroque in style and were added in the 16th-17th centuries. The columns of the cathedral demonstrate a typically Belgian styling with the large, thick columns topped with cabbage leaf-like decorations at the top. There are also cluster columns towards the rear of the nave – typical of French design and large to support the two front towers.
Looking up the nave towards the altar area, you can get a feel for the centuries it took to complete the building and how the styles were changing from the Romanesque to the Gothic. Up towards the altar, the first area to be built, you will see the windows are smaller and there is more wall for support, but farther back in the nave (towards the entrance) the walls get higher and the windows larger, typical of the Gothic styling.
In the back of the cathedral were some interesting photos of a royal wedding that was held in the church, a reminder of the status of the cathedral in Brussels.
The cathedral is located in the center of the city, just a short walk from the Grand Place, at Parvis Sainte-Gudule.
Covering 12 centuries of history, this large cathedral was finished in 1047, but it was renovated in the 13Th century. The actual facade comes from the 15th century. The most interesting details are the stained glass windows, and the vestiges of the initial construction.
Stepping inside the Cathedral Of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula you cannot help being impressed with the long time line it showcases before your eyes. The nave of the church is lined with twelve pillars each bearing a statue of the Apostles the nave dates back to the 17th. Century. The little side Chapel of our Lady of Redemtion felt like a place of sanctury with its wonderful stained glass windows designed on sketches by Rubens pupil van Thulden dates to the mid 17th. Century. You then find yourself looking at the new Swallow organ made in Barcelona by German organ maker Gerherd Grenzing and English architect Simon Platt the organ was installed in the year 2000. The Cathedral has a very simple granite block Altar were you can see the meridian line cross the Church through the centre of the Altar. The Church is free to enter visits to the crypt and the two exhibitions have a small fee but are only open at certain times. There is a Cathedral shop where you can buy guide books, posters and religious items. Toilets are also available here and you will have to pay 1 euro so take some change with you
Located in the city centre, the Cathedral is impressive and well worth visiting when you are in the city. Lots to see and a good place just to sit and reflect on life and the world as it passes you by!
The only black stone "una pietra nera" I heard about in the Cathedral St Michel et Gudule is in the "Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Délivrance". It is an altar made of black marble with a central Assumption of the Virgin due to Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne (around 1650) nephew of Philippe de Champaigne.
The St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral is a beautiful church in Gothic style from the 13th century, although there are parts of it that are as old as the 11th century. On first impression what it reminded me of was Notre-Dame de Paris and de Montreal and a little bit of Votivkirken in Vienna.
The Cathedral got its name from the patron saints of Brussels, St. Michael (the archangel) and St. Gudula (her relics are in the Cathedral), and it's used for Catholic services, royal marriages (like the Crown Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilda in the late 1990's) and state funerals.
A church dedicated to St Michael has probably existed on this site since the 9th century. A Romanesque church was built here in the 11th century, when it became a collegiate church; soon after the relics of St Gudula were moved there and her name added to the dedication. The present church, in Gothic Brabançon style, was begun in 1226, on the orders of Henry I, Duke of Brabant.
First completed in 1047, the Cathedral of St Michael became the final resting place of the remains of Saint Gudula, which the Duke of Brabant brought here. So it was renamed the Cathedral of St Michael and Gudula. Most of the construction dates from the 13th century.
It incorporates a mix of styles, reflecting the changes that have occured over the years. It also reflects the position of Brussels, on the crossroads of France, Germany, and the Netherlands. It's the official site of all royal Belgian weddings and funerals.