Church of Saint John the Baptist

Brussels, Belgium

The Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Béguinage, attributed to the Flemish architect Lucas Faydherbe, this building is a notable illustration of the Italian-influenced Flemish Baroque style of the 17th century. The church was part of the béguinage Notre-Dame de la Vigne of Brussels (an architectural complex which formerly housed beguines, lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world).

The Beguines were lay women who lived a communal life but were not bound by perpetual vows. Three court Beguinages existed in Brussels but the first and largest court Beguinage was the Béguinage de Notre-Dame de la Vigne which was founded before 1247 outside the city walls.

Located near today's place du Beguinage, the community composed a miniature village of individual dwelling with a mill, laundry, and flower and vegetable garden enclosed within a wall. The Beguines built an infirmary and a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Vineyard served as a place of worship.

Because their community had grown to 1200 beguines at the end of the 13th century, a larger Gothic church was built at the same location where the present-day building is located. The women engaged in weaving wool and, from the 16th century onward, in making lace. From the start the Rue du Béguinage ormed the main axis of this large triangular domain of which the Rue de Laeken formed the base. The area between rue de Laeken and Quai au Bois à Brûler was known as the Beguinage quarter during the Middle Ages.

The Beguines were dispersed in 1797 during the French regime. The grounds were parceled out gradually and streets laid out. The infirmary was renovated and transformed into the Hospice Pacheco.

The previous church was a Gothic building with 3 naves and a transept that was destroyed by calvinists in 1584 during the Calvinist Republic of Brussels which lasted from 1577 to 1585. The Beguines decided to rebuild their church in Baroque style and its construction started in 1657. Attributed to the Flemish architect Lucas Faydherbe, this church is a notable illustration of the Italian-influenced Flemish Baroque style of the 17th century. Its façade is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Belgium. The church was restored after it was ravaged by a fire in November 2000.

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Founded: 1657-1676
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

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4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Roel Appels (2 years ago)
Beautiful
Hashim Kazmi (2 years ago)
I dont know about the church but i know the space in front of the church is very plain and beautiful, and a lot of places to eat around of it
Naeem Ahmed (2 years ago)
Good
let's play (3 years ago)
NOT CLEAN AREA
عمار الحمزي Ammar H. Al-Hamzi (3 years ago)
I don't go inside but it's amazing from outside ..
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