If you can’t get enough of Gothic naves or you’re on the constant look out for stunning stained glass windows, Belgium may be the perfect place for you. With some of the most striking cathedrals in the world, this European country is full of hugely important and historic places of worship. Each inspirational building is the result of a lifetime of hard work, and every masterpiece inside has its own extraordinary story. Inspire your own adventure in this country by checking out our guide to five of the most beautiful churches in Belgium.
1. Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp
For anyone visiting Antwerp, it would be impossible to miss the soaring tower of the Cathedral of Our Lady, which dominates the city skyline. This cathedral has watched over Antwerp since 1352, and is rightly considered one of the finest Gothic buildings in Europe. Housed inside are many examples of paintings by renowned Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens, who’s extravagant style makes every masterpiece a wonder to behold. Located right in the heart of the Old Town square, a visit here is worth it to see the 34 enormous stained glass windows alone.
2. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels
Close to the Grand Place on Treurenberg hill, this huge cathedral has been a site of worship for hundreds of years. Visitors won’t be able to resist a visit around this imposing Gothic construction, and thankfully the church is completely free to explore. The beauty of this building isn’t merely confined to the twin-spired exterior, with the interior space adorned with giant white columns, huge artworks and a stunning altarpiece. This church was also once described by the famous writer Victor Hugo – author of Les Misérables – as the “purest flowering of the Gothic style”. Wander slowly around this peaceful cathedral and enjoy the artwork on display.
3. St. Bavo Cathedral, Ghent
Surrounded on all sides by traditional old houses, St. Bavo is one of the most important and historic cathedrals in the whole country. Besides its eye-catching appearance, the church is home to what is considered the most important painting in Belgium, the Ghent Altarpiece. This vast 12-pannelled painting is a rare masterpiece by Hubert and Jan van Eyck that dates back to 1432. Despite being stolen, damaged, restored and with one original panel still missing, the painting is still one of the most awe-inspiring and complex pieces of art in the world.
4. Cathedral of Our Lady, Bruges
As you enjoy a canal ride along the waterways of Bruges, you’ll spot this 122-metre brick building in the distance. As well as being the second highest brick building in the world, this medieval church holds the work of iconic Italian sculptor Michelangelo. Taking pride of place at the altar, this marble masterpiece – called ‘Madonna and Child’ – is a gorgeous example of Michelangelo’s talents and one of only a few pieces of the sculptor’s work ever to leave Italy.
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