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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Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dave McPherson (11 months ago)
Beautiful cathedral, free entry and well signed inside
João Zoio (11 months ago)
One of the many enormous and good looking churches to visit. Looks even better at night and while you go around it there is just this sense of peace and quiet. A location you must visit while you're nearby.
Svetoslav Simeonov (12 months ago)
Really very beautiful monumental cathedral in the heart of Antwerp. Looks even better at night. Fine piece of architecture both from the outside and inside. Attracts lots of tourists with the various cafés and souvenir shops around. This place is definitely worth visiting.
ade0410 (2 years ago)
A superb cathedral! The whole place was very impressive and a sense of calm and quiet throughout. With Christmas time adding to the atmosphere it is certainly due a visit whist in Bruges. From the architecture to the stain glass windows it is such an impressive building. Thoroughly enjoyed our visit here.
Cheryl M (2 years ago)
So beautiful! The contrast between the Romanesque and the Gothic styles is unique. It is very unassuming from the outside but there is so much to see on the inside. This was an unexpected gem and an absolute must see.
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