The site occupied by St. Martin's Church (Sint-Maartenskerk) was already a place of worship in around 650 AD. Later a Romanesque church was built there, which was replaced by a Gothic church in the Middle Ages, built between 1390 and 1466. The Brabantine Gothic stone tower dates from 1439. But in 1862 the tower was struck by lightning and the wooden section was completely destroyed by fire. The spire was fully restored to its former glory over the next few years. The wooden spire houses a carillon with 49 bells. The church is a hall church comprising three aisles. The middle choir, two side choirs and the St. Anna chapel were rebuilt in Neo-Gothic styles after being destroyed by fire in 1862.
The church possesses many hidden treasures. Its showpiece has to be the Triptych of the Holy Spirit by Bernard de Rijckere from 1587: a Pentecostal scene featuring the baptism of Jesus and the creation of Adam. The unique 6,5 metre-high Sacraments Tower from 1585 cannot fail to impress.
Valuable church items including the 16th century chasubles and antependia (hangings for the altar), are classed as Flemish masterpieces. It was decided to turn St. Eloois chapel (1450) into a treasury to preserve these pieces in an optimal manner. The treasury is open to the public at regular hours.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.