48, rue de Saintes

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cloitre7. Cloister


The cloister constitutes, together with the Collegiate Church, the only remnants of the abbey founded in the 7th century.
The abbey complex used to adjoin the galleries of the cloister, where only the northern gallery has retained its primitive 13th century appearance.  The other galleries were renovated in the mid 19th century. At present the Town Hall occupies the former abbey complex.

14. Archaeological Basement


Vestiges squelette

Fouilles de la collégiale

Excavations started in 1941 under the nave of the Collegiate Church have revealed the foundations of five superimposed churches, dating from the mid-7th to the end of the 10th century.
It was in the first of these churches, of modest size (± 20 m), dedicated to Saint Peter, that Gertrude was buried.  The last church featured a westwork, the vestiges of which were discovered below the current western choir.  The excavations led by archaeologists Breuer and  Mertens were continued in 1952. The basement contains the tombs of Saint Gertrude, Ermentrude, (granddaughter of Hugh Capet) and Himeltrude.

Crypte de la collégiale15. Crypt


This underground church (22 x 10 m), which dates from the 11th century, was renovated at the end of the 19th century, when its primitive volume was restored.  It comprises three naves of equal height and ends with an apse in the east.  In the old days, pilgrims were given direct access to the crypt by corridors known as “alloirs” that surrounded the eastern choir.

Colonne d'angle16. Saint Gertrude's Chapel


This chapel is a pair that of Saint Agatha.  It is accessible by the stairway of the Jean de Nivelles tower and by a vertical stairway from the western choir.
The chapel has two elliptical cupolas and ends to the east in an apse. It is lit by a large trefoil window.
The chapel has been rendered in plaster to enhance the vestiges of polychromy that appear on the corner columns, and the décor of stylised flowers on the pendentives.


Local folklore relates that only people in a state of grace will manage to pass through the 25 cm that separates the column from the central pier.


Salle impériale17. Imperial Room


Situated 20 metres above the parvis of the church, the room occupies the whole interior space (25 m x 8) of the westwork at this level.
Large cupolas cover each of the three bays of the room at a height of 9 metres. The central bay ends with an apse in the east, flanked by two recesses. The room is lit by a continuous row of gemel windows.
This room houses amongst other treasures, a reproduction of the 13th century shrine (which was destroyed in 1940), and painted panels from the 15th century that formerly adorned the cart of Saint Gertrude.

Photos W. Beeckaert and Photo-club "Entre-Nous" Nivelles

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