|Package 4: Nivelles - Bois-Seigneur-Isaac|
The Collégiale Saint-Gertrude of Nivelles and the Chateau of Bois-Seigneur-Isaac
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The Collégiale Saint-Gertrude.
The town sprang up around the noble abbey founded at the dawn of Christian evangelisation in this country, and, a rare thing in Europe, consisting of a double community, ruled by women.
The exceptional architectural record includes the romanesque church of the 11th century, an archaeological basement, crypt, cloister, westwork and treasures from the 7th to the 18th centuries. Under the Carolingians, it became an imperial abbey, and later, part of the pilgrim route to Compostella. The St Jacques district, at the feet of the church, is a witness to this pilgrimage.
From 646 and the first Merovingian church, to the present, 1350 years of architectural history can be traced. The church is built in the Ottonian style of the great monuments of the Holy Roman Empire : Early Romanesque for the 11th century construction, and Late Romanesque for the exceptional westwork of the late 12th, which is complete and very rare. The ground-plan with a choir at each end is in the Carolingian tradition. The westwork features no less than 8 cupolas : this is unique in Belgium and emphasises the imperial nature of the foundation.
Chateau of Bois-Seigneur-Isaac
In the 11th century, a knight called Isaac caused a wood to be planted, since called “Bois Planté”. Isaac accompanied Godefrey of Bouillon on crusade, and was imprisoned by the Saracens. He promised, if delivered from his captors, to build a chapel and dedicate it to the Virgin Mary.
Chateau: moated in the past, it was transformed in 1720 into a classic Louis 16th style, with an English park being added in the 17th and 19th centuries.A round tower, the remains of an ancient rampart, still stands in the park. Visitors are received by the Baroness Snoy d'Oppuers. The 16th century chapel of the castle with its Gothic sacristy houses a relic of the Holy Blood and is a place of pilgrimage. Passing under the gate-way, one can walk at leisure in the garden of medicinal herbs cultivated by the Premonstratensians. The 18th century abbey farm is situated near-by. The entire site is classified.