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To begin with, a little bit of history: it is under the walls of Kortrijk that the famous Battle of the Golden Spurs took place on 11 July 1302. The Flemings fought against the power of the king of France, Philip the Fair. The spurs of the vanquished French knights wallpaper the vaults of the church of Notre-Dame until 1382. Then they were recovered by the French army. In the interior of the church, at the back of the high altar, one can see the spurs, hanging in the vault, that refer to this story.
The church of Notre-Dame is found very close to the Beguine convent. It was part of the fortified enclosure of the city (as the thick buttresses and the two towers from the 13th century give evidence of). It is the oldest building in the city. Founded in the 13th century by Baudouin of Constantinople, the church of Notre-Dame has experienced numerous transformations.
The interior has a very short nave and the choir is surrounded by an ambulatory dating from 1300. The pretty Chapel of the Counts, built in 1374 in honour of Count Lodewijk van Maele, houses alcoves where all the Counts of Flanders are represented. There one can also admire a statue of Saint Catherine in alabaster. It is one of the most beautiful works of the 14th century; be sure to look at the way the vestments hang. And yet the interior of the church, for the most part, is in Baroque style and dates from the 17th century. Above the altar of the left transept, one can admire ‘The Elevation of the Cross’ by Antoon Van Dijck. This painting was transported to the Louvre during the French Revolution, but it was returned to Kortrijk in 1817. Due to the bombings of 1944, the old stained glass windows were damaged so badly that they had to be replaced. Only the stained glass window in the baptistery (1936-1937) by Joep Nicholas had been put away in a safe place. Finally, the church still contains several tombstones, as well as a commemorative plaque for the poet Guido Gezelle who was the curate of this church in the 19th century.