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Visiting Mons, Belgium, and its Collegiate Church of St. Waudru: the endurance of Medieval solidity

Updated on March 23, 2013
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Collegiate church of St. Waudru, Mons
Collegiate church of St. Waudru, Mons | Source
Interior of St. Waudru church, Mons
Interior of St. Waudru church, Mons | Source
Map location of Mons, Hainaut, Belgium
Map location of Mons, Hainaut, Belgium | Source

Not everyone's idea of a 'private' church

An abiding impression which I have retained of this church building in Mons, Belgium, is of its sheer solidity and monumentality.

Some history and features

Mainly built between the 15th and 17th centuries (1), its style is Brabantine Gothic. The Medieval architect responsible for the building's plans was Mathieu de Layens (d. 1483), assisted by others. The church building is known as the Collegiate church of St. Waudru of Mons (French: Collégiale Sainte-Waudru de Mons ).

In the interior of the church, the smooth lines of its pillars add to the sense of solidity which the exterior effuses.

One thing I noticed in the interior of the church were the war memorial monuments commemorating the presence of Commonwealth forces in World War One. Interestingly, a separate monument was given in commemoration of Newfoundlander soldiers, since during the time of the conflict, Newfoundland did not form part of the Dominion of Canada.

A notable, historical feature of this cathedral-sized structure is that on foundation it was a private church, belonging to a Medieval order. Because of its size, however, and possibly its proximity to the Downtown area of Mons, the building has come to be regarded as being loosely equivalent to a cathedral, even though it is not the seat of a bishop, Mons being part of the diocese of Tournai even today.

Note

(1) The building is still regarded as technically unfinished. A church tower was planned, but never completed, giving the building a relatively unusual appearance, if its design were put beside those of other, comparable church structures of the same age.

Also worth seeing

In Mons itself, visitor attractions include the Belfry and the remarkable City Hall (French: Hôtel de Ville ). The University of Mons has a striking main building.

Brussels (distance: 70 kilometres); its many visitor attractions include the Grand' Place, the Atomium, the Royal Palace and the Erasmus House museum, Anderlecht.

...

How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ; distance: 79 kilometres) from where car rental is available. The Belgian railroad company SNCB / NMBS maintains a service between Brussels and Mons . Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please note that 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

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