St. Salvator's Cathedral

Bruges, Belgium

St. (Sint) Salvator Cathedral, the main church of the Bruges, is one of the few buildings in Bruges that have survived the onslaught of the ages without damage. Nevertheless, it has undergone some changes and renovations. This church was not originally built to be a cathedral; it was granted the status in the 19th century. Since the 10th century the Sint-Salvator was a common parish church. At that time the Sint-Donaaskathedraal (St. Donatian's Cathedral), which was located at the very heart of Bruges, opposite of the town hall, was the central religious building of the city. At the end of the 18th century the French occupiers of Bruges threw out the bishop of Bruges and destroyed the Sint-Donaaskathedraal, which was his residence.

In 1834, shortly after Belgium's independence in 1830, a new bishop was installed in Bruges and the Sint-Salvator church obtained the status of cathedral. However, the building's external image did not resemble a cathedral. It was much smaller and less imposing than the nearby Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk and had to be adapted to its new role. Building a higher and more impressive tower was one of the viable options.

The roof of the cathedral collapsed in a fire in 1839. Robert Chantrell, an English architect, famous for his neo-Gothic restorations of English churches, was asked to restore to Sint-Salvator its former glory. At the same time he was authorized to make a project for a higher tower, in order to make it taller than that of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk. The oldest surviving part, dated from the 12th century, formed the base of the mighty tower. Instead of adding a neo-Gothic part to the tower, Chantrell chose a very personal Romanesque design. After completion there was a lot of criticism and the royal commission for monuments, without authorization by Chantrell, had placed a small peak on top of the tower, because the original design was deemed too flat. The Neo-Romanesque west tower is fortress-like 99 meters high.

The Sint-Salvator Cathedral's 101-meter-long interior contains some noteworthy furnishings. It currently houses many works of art that were originally stored in its destroyed predecessor, the Sint-Donaaskathedraal. The wall-carpets that can be seen when entering the church were manufactured in Brussels by Jasper van der Borcht in 1731. These were commissioned by bishop Hendrik van Susteren for Sint-Donaaskathedraal. Sint-Salvator also has the original paintings that served as models for the wall-carpets, which make quite a unique combination. In the choir the original 16th century podium can still be admired.



Your name


Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Belgium


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Laurentiu Ovidiu Calin (4 months ago)
I liked Sint-Salvatorskathedraal more than Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, as if more spacious and more interesting things to see. Pay attention to the schedule, the cathedral closes every day between 1pm and 2pm with the exception of Sunday when it is only open from 2pm to 5pm.
Arjun Narayan (7 months ago)
Worth going inside (especially in the cold winter days!) Has a very good collection of artworks and artifact for show with good explanation of what they are. The architecture is worth seeing for in this beautiful cathedral!
Sayak Das (8 months ago)
Saint-Salvator Kathedral is a mesmerizing gem in the heart of Belgium! The stunning Gothic architecture and rich history make it a must-visit. The intricate stained glass windows and impressive altars are awe-inspiring. The cathedral's serene atmosphere provides a perfect escape from the bustling city. For the best experience, attend a service or climb the tower for breathtaking panoramic views of Bruges. Pro tip: Visit during late afternoon for magical sunlight streaming through the windows. Don't forget your camera! Easily accessible from the city center, it's a quintessential Belgian experience. A true architectural masterpiece! #MustSee #BelgiumTreasure ??
Ed Enriquez (8 months ago)
Amazing the amount of artwork in the church. Hardly any visitors while we were there.
Ino Sofjan (10 months ago)
I love this cathedral. Lots of things to observe and it isn't (wasn't) crowded when we were there. It is located in some dense neighborhood, but feels very honey.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Topography of Terror

The Topography of Terror (Topographie des Terrors) is an outdoor and indoor history museum. It is located on Niederkirchnerstrasse, formerly Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, on the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal instruments of repression during the Nazi era.

The buildings that housed the Gestapo and SS headquarters were largely destroyed by Allied bombing during early 1945 and the ruins demolished after the war. The boundary between the American and Soviet zones of occupation in Berlin ran along the Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, so the street soon became a fortified boundary, and the Berlin Wall ran along the south side of the street, renamed Niederkirchnerstrasse, from 1961 to 1989. The wall here was never demolished.