ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg / Sint-Jacob-op-Koudenberg, Brussels, Belgium: amazing historical associations

Updated on August 26, 2011
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg / Sint-Jacob-op-Coudenberg, Brussels
Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg / Sint-Jacob-op-Coudenberg, Brussels | Source
The Coudenberg Palace, the Brussels palace of the Duke of Brabant
The Coudenberg Palace, the Brussels palace of the Duke of Brabant | Source
Map location of Brussels, Belgium
Map location of Brussels, Belgium | Source

Replete with religious, royal, secular republican and pre-Belgian associations

On the steps of this church, King Leopold I took his oath as the first King of the Belgians in 1831.

Previously, the church already had some surprising historical associations.

While the cupola was added in the 19th century, the striking portico which is a major Brussels landmark today actually dates from 1780, over 50 years before the foundation of Belgium as a separate kingdom, and before the upheavals of the French Revolutions which swept across so much of Continental Europe. When the Revolutionaries arrived at this church, they decided it should no longer be identified as a church building; instead, they turned it into a secular temple of reason (as was Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, similarly).

But go back further and for an amazing 700 years the site of the current church hosted a monastery and the castle and subsequently palace of Coudenberg, where the long succession of rulers of the Duchy of Brabant were based. Until 1731, that is.

So why is 1731 so important? Because in 1731 the Coudenberg Palace burnt down.

Indeed, the flames did such a destructive job, that the ruins lay almost untouched for 40 years. It was when the current structure of the Coudenberg church was built on the site of the ruins that the noteworthy portico came into being. The church building's architect was Gilles-Barnabé Gumard (1734-1805), who followed designs by Jean Benoît Vincent Barré (c.1732-1824).

Linguistic note

The word 'Coudenberg' refers to the hill on which the various notable structures have been built over many centuries; 'Coudenberg' is the usual French spelling; the usual Dutch spelling is: 'Koudenberg'. Thus also, the church which is built on this hill. St Jacob-on-Coudenberg is known in French as Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg and in French as Sint-Jacob-op-Koudenberg .

Multiple identities

So the structure is strongly identified as a church building; it is strongly identified as a past centre for secular, revolutionary propaganda, it is strongly identified with royal dynasty of Belgium, but it is also strongly identified with 700 years of the previous rulers of the region.

So which identity prevails?

You decide.

Also worth seeing

Brussels has numerous visitor attractions, which cannot be adequately summerized here, but among these the following would be included: The Royal Palace and the adjacent BELvue museum of the dynasty; the Grand' Place; the Erasmus House Museum, Anderlecht; the Royal St Hubert Galleries; St Michael's Cathedral.


How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. However, the Metro is a very convenient way of getting around Brussels . For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

For your visit, these items may be of interest


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)