12 April - 31 October
Mon 9.00 - 18.00
Tue 9.00 - 18.00
Wed 9.00 - 18.00
Thu 9.00 - 18.00
Fri 9.00 - 18.00
Sat 9.00 - 18.00
Sun 9.00 - 18.00
01 November - 11 April
Mon 9.00 - 17.00
Tue 9.00 - 17.00
Wed 9.00 - 17.00
Thu 9.00 - 17.00
Fri 9.00 - 17.00
Sat 9.00 - 17.00
Sun 9.00 - 17.00
Daily at 2.30 pm
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The collegiate church of Saint Gertrude of Nivelles is a “monument” which is out of the ordinary. It is quite rightly considered as “an exceptional heritage site” and on many counts.
In fact it is one of the oldest and one of the largest Romanesque churches in Europe. The church is already very impressive to look at on the outside, above all when standing before its high, wide western façade on five levels. Consecrated in 1046, the church has suffered many mishaps in the course of the centuries, was severely damaged in May 1940 but was restored in a very plain Rhineland-Romanesque style further… to a referendum of the inhabitants!
The interior, composed of two choirs opposite each other, is also spectacular: 100 metres long, 44 metres wide, 20 metres high.
The restoration campaign itself restored a remarkable sobriety: wooden ceilings, exposed stone, modern stained glass windows, decoration limited to a few pieces of antique furniture, in particular two cathedra of truth and the chariot intended to carry the shrine of Saint Gertrude.
Other things that must be seen include the enormous crypt, the archaeological site below ground and the close that was completely restored in the 19th century.
The pulpit is the work of a great artist of the Austrian court, Laurent Delvaux, who died in Nivelles in 1778. At its base is a carved group (which heralds neo-classicism) representing Jesus at Jacob's well, asking for water from the Samaritan woman. The baroque pulpit is decorated with three marble medallions. They represent 3 parables of the Gospel.
Every year since the 13th century, the shrine of Saint Gertrude is taken on a 15-kilometre procession all around the city. The precious relics make their grand "Tour" on this processional float - several elements of which date back to before 1450 - which is pulled by six draught horses (the first Sunday after September 29).
The former shrine of Saint Gertrude was a masterpiece of medieval silversmithing. This miniature cathedral of gold and silver was unfortunately destroyed by a bombardment in May 1940. The remains of this treasure, including the magnificent statuette of Saint Gertrude, are listed as part of the Walloon Region's exceptional movable heritage.
The peculiar golden brass soldier, dressed in Spanish-style clothes, which is hung on the south tower of the church's front, is a 350-kg automaton that rings every quarter of an hour. This "jacquemart" was given to the city by the Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold in the 15th century . It was given the nickname of Jean de Nivelles, a famous figure in local folklore.
Saint Paul, before he became an apostle evangelizer, was a great persecutor of Christians. His dramatic conversion, on the way to Damascus, inspired the sculptor Laurent Delvaux in 1735. This baroque work features the blinding appearance of Christ who made him fall off his horse (a group classified as exceptional movable heritage).
The northern arm of the eastern transept of the collegiate church was reserved for the canonesses. In these stalls, they celebrated services since 1566, until the end of the 18th century. These sculpted benches, a remarkable Renaissance ensemble, display a Greco-Roman-inspired decor enriched with many fanciful, coquettish or satirical figures.
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