Notre-Dame de la Chapelle

Notre-Dame de la Chapelle (6)

The church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle owes its existence to King Godfrey I, who wanted to build a church outside the city walls. Hence, in 1210, a parish church devoted to the Marian cult was built here. This church went on to become an important centre of pilgrimage when, in 1250, Duke Henry III donated five fragments of the Cross of Christ to it. 

Interestingly, the original construction was in Romanesque style, but a fire in 1405 made reconstruction work necessary and this was done in Gothic style.

You will notice that on its facade is a remarkable Baroque bell tower that was built after the French bombardment of 1695, and decoration based on a series of highly-realistic gargoyles or monsters. These gargoyles are only to be found on the exterior as they are intended to threaten people and represent the sin outside the church in comparison with the interior of the building, which is ruled by good. 

If you visit the interior of the church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle, you will be struck by the contrast between the darkness of the crossing and the brightness of the nave, which comes from the light that enters through a series of high Gothic-style windows. Pay attention, also, to the columns, remarkable for the figures of the apostles and the capitals, which have cabbage leaf decoration. 

Lastly, pay a visit too to the funeral monument of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a carved stone memorial upon the site where this important sixteenth-century Belgian painter is buried with his wife. The monument, which is located in the fourth chapel of the right nave, was made by his own son, Jan Bruegel.

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