|Package 7: Nivelles - Ecaussinnes|
The Collégiale Saint-Gertrude of Nivelles and the Chateau of Ecaussines
Retour - Terug - Back
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.
The Chateau of Ecaussines
The chateau was constructed in the 12th century by Count Baldwin V of Hainault as a defence against his neighbours the Count of Flanders and the Duke of Brabant. In the course of time the structure evolved, strengthening towers being added in the 14th century, while by the end of the 15th, the castle had lost its defensive purpose and was transformed into a grand residence. An entrance tower was added in the 17th century.
Perched on a rocky spur above the river Sennette, the Chateau of Ecaussines is one of the few in Hainault situated on an eminence. The 15th century keep, with its grandly proportioned arms room and great hall above, constitutes a beautiful and authentic whole. The monumental gothic fireplaces of these two rooms are carved from solid rock, one decorated with a mermaid and a knight on a sea-horse (in the arms room), the other (in the great hall) with Adam and Eve. Both are superb and rare examples of 15th
Today the chateau houses a museum whose collections add another dimension of interest for the visitor to the major heritage site which the chateau, its garden and setting encompass.