Visiting the Collegiate church of Saint-Ursmer, Lobbes, Belgium: ancient structure high above the Sambre River
A building contemporary with Charlemagne
For hundreds of years the Collegiate Church of Saint-Ursmer (French: Eglise collégiale de Saint-Ursmer ) has maintained its profile high above the Sambre River, at Lobbes, Belgium. The ancient town of Lobbes is situated in the Hainaut province of the Walloon region (French: Région wallonne ).
The building dates from the 9th century, and thus from the era of Charlemagne. There was, however, already a church structure on the present site in the 8th century. Indeed, the crypt of the church building contains some graves dating from the 8th century. Some Romanesque-style alterations were made in the 11th century; from this time, the western, stone tower owes its origins.
The spire was a 19th century addition. A not uncommon practice in the 19th century when church buildings were restored was for changes to be undergone which did not actually reflect any previous state of the building, despite the supposed restoration process.
Formerly an Abbey at Lobbes was more well known that this Collegiate Church. This Abbey, however, suffered attacks from different directions: Hungarians damaged it, invading from the east, and militantly secularist French Revolutionaries attacked from the west: the Abbey did not survive the French Revolutionary period.
Climbing the hill upon which this Collegiate church was built so many centuries ago, one is conscious of a curious stillness. Maybe it is partly because, being at the summit of the hill, there is little through traffic; maybe also there is the deep sense of historicity exuded by stones dating from the era of Charlemagne, Emperor of the Franks, and Holy Roman Emperor, when secular and religious power was — dangerously? — concentrated in one person. (Interestingly, this religious-secular union was carried forward to the Prince Bishops of Liège, to which diocese the former Abbey at Lobbes also belonged.)
January 9, 2013
Also worth seeing
Beaumont (distance: 15 kilometres); visitor attractions include the Medieval Salamandre Tower, with its origins in the 10th century, Saint-Servais church and Carman-Chimay castle.
How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ; distance: 75 kilometres) from where car rental is available. The Belgian railroad company SNCB / NMBS maintains a service between Brussels and Lobbes . Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting Mons, Belgium, and its Collegiate Church of St. Waudru: the endurance of Medieval solidity
- Visiting Mons, Belgium, and its Belfry: 17th century masterpiece of Louis Ledoux
- Visiting Mons, Belgium, and its amazing City Hall: municipal affairs in Medieval Gothic
- Visiting Mons University, Belgium: distinguished 19th century foundations
- Visiting the remarkable Cathedral of Brussels, Belgium: with strong, royal associations
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