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The Cathedral of Brussels


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The Cathedral of Brussels

Translated by Kate Norman — one month ago

Original text by Maika Cano Martínez

Introduction

The Cathedral of Brussels is known as the Church of St Michael and St Gudula and is located a few meters from the center of the Belgian capital. It has not become one of the most characteristic symbols of Brussels, like the Grand Place or the Atomium have, but is one of the architectural landmarks of the city and is the main Catholic church in Belgium.

The Cathedral of Brussels

The Cathedral owes its name on the one hand to Saint Michael, the Patron Saint of Brussels, and on the other to Saint Gudula, whose remains are preserved in the Cathedral and, since they were placed there, the Church stopped being only devoted to Saint Michael.

The construction of the Cathedral began in 1226 and it was not until centuries later, in the year 1500, when it was finished. Furthermore, not only that, but in spite of its antiquity, it did not become a cathedral until 1962, when the Diocese of Mechelen-Brussels, to which this church belongs, was created. The cathedral is of a Gothic-style and white.

The Cathedral of Brussels

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Main exterior façade and the interior of the Cathedral of Brussels

The main façade of the Cathedral of San Miguel and Santa Gudula has three vertical levels. The two levels at either end are wider than the central part, and they are the towers of the cathedral. Each strip has its own door, but in this case, the central door is the largest. If we look at the church horizontally, we can see that there are four levels, although the central part has only three. The central part has an enormous triangular pediment.

The Cathedral of Brussels

Regarding the interior, it is divided into several parts, and I will now tell you the most relevant ones. The interior was looted by Protestants and French revolutionaries, yet still has great value and great beauty. The central part of the interior has a corridor with cylindrical columns and statues of the twelve apostles, and has eight chapels on either side, in which stands out a beautiful pulpit carved in wood from a baroque style and confessionals that have oak.

The Cathedral of Brussels

-The choir and the organ: the choir is very beautiful and is three levels high. As for the organ, it is a Grenzing that has more than 4, 000 pipes and four keyboards.

-Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament: this chapel is made from the flamboyant Gothic style and dates back to the 16th century. It has several Renaissance-style stained glass windows and a main altar that represents the Blessed Sacrament. In addition to this, this chapel holds the Cathedral's treasure, which include several masterpieces of religious art kept in a wrought iron portico.

-Chapel of Our Lady of the Liberation: this is decorated with stained-glass windows of great value that describe the main parts in the life of the Virgin Mary. There is also the Mausoleum of Fréderic de Mérode, a man who died in the war of 1830 and is considered a national hero.

The Cathedral of Brussels

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Personal opinion

I think this cathedral is very pretty, and if I'm talking about these buildings, it's because I like them in general. It seems to me like a typical French cathedral, it reminds me a lot of the Notre Dame, only without a rosette window and in white, and it also reminds me of Strasbourg Cathedral, but in a more classical style. Likewise, due to its large proportions and its white colour, it does not stand out from the rest of the cathedrals in Europe, but in my opinion, it is quite beautiful and worth visiting, both the inside and out.

It was the first important monument I saw in Brussels, but I only found it by chance on the way to the Grand Place from the hotel. We passed by one of its sides and it was difficult for us to recognise that it was the cathedral, I think because there were not many tourists in the square of the cathedral, but this doesn't mean it's not worth visiting, but rather because it is on a high ground which doesn't invite you to stay for too long on the outskirts of the cathedral.

The Cathedral of Brussels

I'm not much of a church-goer, but I went with an Erasmus friend thank goodness she told me to come in, because the interior was so beautiful. The statues of the apostles in the columns astonished me, but I think what I liked the most was the natural illumination of the interior and its spectacular stained-glass windows. As for the exterior, I loved the towers.

The Cathedral of Brussels

Opening hours and prices

The opening hours are daily, but change according to the day of the week and you can't visit the cathedral in the case of a liturgical service. During the week, from Monday to Friday, the timetable is from 7:30 a. m. to 6 p. m.; on Saturday it is from 7:30 a. m. to 3:30 p. m., and on Sundays, it is only possible from 2:00 p. m. to 6:00 p. m..

Entrance to the Cathedral of Brussels is free, but if you want to visit the treasure of the cathedral you have to pay 1 euro, and if you want to visit the crypt, it would be 2 and a half euros.

The Cathedral of Brussels

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How to get there

The best way to get to the cathedral is by public transport, and you can walk to the Grand Place and Manneken Pis, as they are only 10 minutes away. In Brussels, the public transport network has bus, metro and tram, so you can choose any option. By bus the stop is called "Parc" and the lines that leave you there are 29, 63, 65 and 66. By tram, the stop is also called "Parc" and the lines are 92 and 93. Regarding the metro, the nearest stop is "Gare Centrale" and the lines would be 1 and 5.

The Cathedral of Brussels

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