|Package 8: Nivelles - Tournai|
The Collégiale Saint-Gertrude of Nivelles and the Cathedral of Our Lady, Tournai
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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.
Cathedral of Our Lady, Tournai
(classified UNESCO World Heritage Site)
The Cathedral of Our Lady in Tournai is one of the great masterpieces of western mediaeval architecture. It was constructed in the 12th century on the site of several more ancient churches, a project enabled by the surge in ecomomic growth of the town at that time.
The museum in the Treasure Room is of exceptional interest, housing as it does such pieces of major importance as the two great shrines of Our Lady and St Eleuthere, precious objects of ivory, of gold and an Arras tapestry dating from the 14th century....
Since 1999, major restoration and stabilisation works have been underway which have enabled archaeological investigations to take place, revealing burials from the 11th century .