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Église Saint Jacques sur Coudenberg

Église Saint Jacques sur Coudenberg (24)

If you are in Place Royal and you take a look around you, the building that will most certainly strike your attention for its beauty is the impressive Church of Saint-Jacques-Sur-Coudenberg. You will recognise it easily because of its classical temple-like facade, which is the work of Barré and Guimard, and its splendid bell tower, which was made by Franciscus Suys in 1849.

However, as is usually the case with such buildings, what you see here is not, or even approaches, the original construction. In fact, in the twelfth century, this was the very site of a chapel that was used by the Dukes of Brabant. This chapel, which was originally devoted to Saint James the Greater, suffered several mishaps throughout its history, including plundering, although it was the great fire of 1731 that damaged it most seriously. It was so badly affected that, shortly afterwards, it had to be demolished. 1787 thus saw the consecration of the new church, which you can see today. Nonetheless, the history of this church does not end here because during the period of the French Revolution it was converted into the Temple of Law and Reason, some of the Biblical statues were renamed, and some parts of the pediment were demolished. This lasted until, in 1802, when the building was returned to the Catholic Church.

If you go inside the church, you will notice its very simple and solemn appearance, and the remarkable barrel vaulted nave and the apse that is decorated with gypsum floral motifs. Pay attention also to the two large paintings by Jan Portaels that you will find on either sides of the crossing, and to the seats reserved for the royal family. 

Another interesting fact is that this church bore testimony to the solemn oath of Prince Leopold of Saxony, who became the first king of the Belgians on 21 July 1831.

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