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.



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Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Belgium


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Konstantin Krahtov (5 months ago)
Sint-Salvator Cathedral: A Timeless Marvel in Bruges Welcome, to the magnificent Sint-Salvator Cathedral in the charming city of Bruges. Prepare to be awe-struck by its grandeur, immersed in its rich history, and enchanted by its divine beauty. History: Sint-Salvator Cathedral stands as a testament to Bruges' profound religious heritage. Its origins can be traced back to the 10th century when a small chapel was established on this site. Over the centuries, the cathedral has evolved, with multiple expansions and renovations giving rise to the majestic structure we see today. Architectural Marvels: As you step into the cathedral, allow yourself to be embraced by the architectural splendor that surrounds you. The soaring Gothic arches, intricately carved stone details, and majestic stained glass windows transport you to a bygone era of craftsmanship and devotion. It is a testament to the skill and dedication of the artisans who built this sacred sanctuary. Gaze upon the towering spire that reaches for the heavens, as if aspiring to connect earth and sky. It stands as a beacon, guiding both pilgrims and visitors to this sacred place. The intricate details adorning the exterior of the cathedral tell stories of saints, biblical scenes, and divine grace, inviting contemplation and reverence. Artistic Treasures: Venture deeper into the cathedral and discover the artistic treasures that lie within. Admire the stunning works of art, including intricate woodcarvings, priceless paintings, and ornate altarpieces. Each piece narrates a story, illustrating the profound faith and devotion of those who created and worshipped in this sacred space. The majestic organ, with its powerful pipes, fills the air with celestial music, creating a sacred atmosphere that touches the soul. Witness the grandeur of the choir stalls, intricately carved with scenes from religious history, and imagine the harmonious voices that once filled this hallowed space. From the perspective of a delighted visitor, the Sint-Salvator Cathedral offers a profound sense of serenity and spiritual reflection. The play of light through the stained glass windows casts vibrant hues across the interior, enveloping you in a kaleidoscope of colors. It is a place where time seems to stand still, allowing you to connect with something greater than yourself. Conclusion: Visiting the Sint-Salvator Cathedral is a pilgrimage into the heart of Bruges' rich spiritual and cultural heritage. Its timeless beauty, architectural grandeur, and artistic treasures inspire awe and reverence. As a happy visitor, I encourage you to immerse yourself in the cathedral's ethereal ambiance, to reflect on its historical significance, and to appreciate the artistry that adorns its sacred walls. Sint-Salvator Cathedral stands as a testament to the enduring power of faith, the beauty of human creativity, and the profound connection between the divine and mortal realms. It is an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your soul and a lasting memory of your visit to the enchanting city of Bruges.
Harri A (5 months ago)
A wonderful and huge church. Lots to see and photograph. It's worth a visit.
Charles Rareshide (7 months ago)
This is a nice church to visit that also has a small museum inside it, although I didn't personally visit the museum section. The church itself is fairly spacious and people seemed to be going in and out during a busy time of the day for tourists in that neighborhood, but it never felt crowded while I was walking around.
Martin Paulik (7 months ago)
Stunning church. Beautiful architechture. I love that it is absolutly free to explore every part and it is absolutly beautiful. There is multiple smaller chaples, but main theater is huge and historical and just amazing.
Martin Zagorov (10 months ago)
Absolutely amazing cathedral with an even better garden! It is very peaceful and beautiful, perfect for relaxation or photos. It is one of the most magical places in the whole of Bruges! Definitely a must-see sight.
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