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Visiting the Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk, Ostend, Belgium: neo-Gothic architecture on a grand scale

Updated on July 19, 2011
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk, Ostend
Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk, Ostend | Source
The Queen of the Belgians in 1832
The Queen of the Belgians in 1832 | Source
Map location of Ostend
Map location of Ostend | Source

Evoking Cologne Cathedral and commemorating a Belgian Queen Consort

This is a grand, cathedral-like, neo-Gothic church building, work on which began in 1899, and inaugurated in 1908.

Well, whether or not this building in Ostend (Dutch: Oostende ) is supposed to be a cathedral, it was built to look like one. In fact, it was modelled on Germany's Cologne Cathedral (1), and contains a memorial mausoleum for one of Belgium's Queens Consort.

Please note the term 'memorial mausoleum'. Because the Queen in question is not actually buried here. However, since Belgium's Queen Marie-Louise, Queen Consort to King Leopold I, died at Ostend in 1850, a grand commemoration was decided upon. At the time of her death, from tuberculosis, Queen Marie-Louise was aged only 38.

Years later, her son King Leopold II of the Belgians, was present at the inauguration of the church, built to contain the mausoleum to her memory. The memorial mausoleum was sculpted by Charles Auguste Fraikin (1817-1893).

The sheer scale of the church is striking: among its crowing features are its twin spires which are 72 metres high. The length of the building is 70 metres and its width is 30 metres. The building was executed in Meuse stone.

The church's architect was Louis Delacenserie (1839-1909), and as well as Cologne Cathedral, Germany. Architect Delacenserie was also responsible for the design of Atwerp central railroad station, and was noted for his association with neo-Gothic architectural revival, and this seen in his work at the Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk.

Stained glass windows in the Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk suffered damage in World Wars One and Two and were subsequently replaced.

Ostend, situated in West Flanders (Dutch: West-Vlaanderen ) province, in the Flemish region (Dutch: Vlaams Gewest ), expanded as a port and a tourist resort in the 19th century, and attracted many travellers and visitors. This is part of the context by which the Sint-Pieter-en-Pauluskerk was built, on the site of a smaller, earlier church.

A thorough restoration of the Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk was effected between 1976 and 2003.

While this building is among Ostend's most famous landmarks, the city, situated on the North Sea (Dutch: Noordzee ) is also well-known for its boardwalk and pier.


(1) Another design influence on the Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk was the Votive Church, Vienna, Austria.

Also worth seeing

Bruges (distance: 29 kilometres), a beautiful city of Medieval churches, canals and civic buildings, attracts many visitors.


How to get there: Brussels National Airport (Brussel -Nationaal -Luchthaven) , Belgium, where car hire is available, is the nearest large international airport to Ostend (distance: 124 kilometres). Brussels Airlines flies from New York (JFK) to Brussels National. The Belgian NMBS / SNCB railroad company maintains services between Brussels and Ostend. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. 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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