Church of Our Lady

Kortrijk, Belgium

Construction work on the Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) began in 1199 on the initiative of Count Baldwin IX. The church was located on the estate of Kortrijk that was fortified and completely walled in, with the exception of an area on the Leie. Of this early Gothic church only the west facade, the nave and the transept remain. The towers were constructed at the end of the 13th century. After the Battle of Westrozebeke in 1382 the church was largely destroyed and rebuilt. At a later stage the interior was decorated in Baroque style.

Following the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302, which took place on the nearby Groeninge field, the Flemish hung five hundred golden spurs from French knights who had been slain in the choir in thanks to Our Lady of Groeninge. In 1382, Breton mercenaries took them together with other valuables following the Battle of Westrozebeke. The spurs were later replaced by copies that still hang in the church. The Church of Our Lady conceals a number of art treasures such as the 'Erection of the cross' by Anthony Van Dyck.

In 1370, Count Lodewijk van Male constructed the Counts' chapel as a mausoleum for himself. In the chapel you can admire the stunning wall paintings of the counts of Flanders and the statue of the Holy Catharina (a famous masterpiece). The stained glass windows accentuate the church's noble character: the counts of Flanders, knights in armour during the Battle of the Golden Spurs etc.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1199
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Miguel Roldán Dulcey (2 years ago)
Hermosa iglesia. Buen lugar de recogimiento y contemplación.
Jan Torfs (2 years ago)
Prachtige kerk in Gotische stijl. Werd gebouwd in 1199 en is daarmee één van de oudste gebouwen van deze stad. De kerk maakte vroeger deel uit van het Grafelijke Domein en is nu een beschermd monument. Bij een bezoek , kijk naar de schilderijen van Van Dyck en let aan de buitenkant op de waterspuwers aan de gevel.
Marie Jeanne De Clercq (2 years ago)
Mooie architectuur.. oud sfeervol gebouw “ klasse”
Marcellino Buyck (3 years ago)
Echt prachtig mooi van binnen
Michel Noterman (3 years ago)
Hoofdkerk kortrijk samen met de Sint Maartenskerk.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.