|Package 2: Nivelles - Seneffe|
The Collégiale Saint-Gertrude of Nivelles and the Chateau of Seneffe
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 Seneffe
Once inside the gates and over the threshold of the Chateau of Seneffe, the visitor enters a different century, and in the Goldsmith's Museum of the French Community which it houses, he or she discovers another time : the 18th century.
Another way of life is conjured up at the Chateau of Seneffe, country seat of Count Julien Depestre. The house was built by the most fashionable architect of the day, Laurent-Benoît Delez, between 1763 and 1768.
The interior is all luxury : polished wooden floors and gold leaf, and outside, the visitor can stroll in the 22 hectare park amongst the many out-buildings, including a theatre, orangery, aviary and ice-house, as well as servants’ quarters.
The collection of gold artefacts is principally composed of a donation made by Claude of Germany, one of the greatest collectors and connoisseurs of this kind of material in Belgium.
Whether you are an ordinary visitor eager to travel in time, or an expert interested in the scientific aspects of the collection, don’t hesitate to open