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Visiting the Eglise de la Chapelle / Kapellekerk, Brussels, Belgium: one of the oldest church buildings in the city

Updated on November 20, 2012
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Belfry and tower, 'Eglise-Notre-Dame-de-la-Chapelle' / 'Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ter-Kapellekerk', Brussels
Belfry and tower, 'Eglise-Notre-Dame-de-la-Chapelle' / 'Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ter-Kapellekerk', Brussels | Source
Map location of Brussels, Belgium
Map location of Brussels, Belgium | Source

Multiple identities in a long history

To give the building its full name in French and Dutch respectively: Eglise Notre-Dame-de-la-Chapelle / Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ter-Kapellekerk .

The structure is one of the oldest church buildings in Brussels, Belgium. Records show that a 12th century Benedictine chapel stood on the site of the present edifice. The choir and the transept are Romanesque and Gothic, dating from the 13th century. The 16th century nave is described as Flamboyant Gothic.

At the end of the 17th century, a Baroque belfry was added to the Gothic tower.

Features of the interior of the church building include a 15th century font and an 18th century pulpit. In 1574, many of its ornate artifacts were destroyed in a wave of iconoclasm which swept Flanders.

For the travelling public in Brussels — both for those keenly interested in architecture and for those less so — the name of this building is closely identified with a nearby railroad station of the Belgian Infrabel company, which is called Gare de Bruxelles-Chapelle / Station Brussel-Kapellekerk (1).

This historic building is situated in rue Haute / Hoogstraat , in the Brussels Capital region (French: Région de Bruxelles-Capitale ; Dutch: Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest ); this road was an ancient Roman thoroughfare, which was urbanized in the 13th century. It is located in the Les Marolles / De Marollen neighbourhood of the city. Interestingly, while the French / Dutch bilingual heritage of Downtown Brussels is strongly asserted, a third language — Polish — is commonly heard at the building, reflecting the Polish extraction of many of its frequent users.

November 21, 2012


(1) Many trains of the Belgian SNCB / NMBS Company no longer stop at the Gare de Bruxelles-Chapelle / Station Brussel-Kapellekerk , but it is a thoroughly familiar sight to travellers who are coming to or from the neighbouring stations of Bruxelles-Central / Brussel-Centraal and Bruxelles-Midi / Brussel-Zuid .

Also worth seeing

In Brussels itself, included among the many other examples of noted, church architecture are the Cathedral of Saint-Michel / Sint-Michiel ; Koekelberg Basilica; and Laeken parish church in which many members of the Belgian Royal Family are buried. A few of the many other outstanding sights include the Grand' Place , the Royal Palace, the Palace of Justice, the Erasmus House museum, Anderlecht, and many others.


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 — de Brouckère metro station is close by. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

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


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