When we think of Belgium, there are a few things that typically spring to mind – fine chocolate, fruit beer, an EU role, poppy fields, and war history, to name a few. Belgium is also home to many of Europe‘s most interesting, sacred, and stunning religious buildings, which can provide something else to your stay.
Some of the six best include the following:
Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges
In Bruges’ main town square one can find the grand and impressive Basilica of the Holy Blood. Mixing Gothic and Romanesque designs, it also houses a important religious relic. Many Christians flock to the church where it is believed a piece of cloth soaked in Jesus’ blood is contained. The fabric is within a phial, believed to originally have been a perfume bottle or similar. According to legend, Jason of Arimathea washed Jesus’ body after the crucifixion, and the blood soaked rag was preserved, before making its way to Belgium after the crusades. It is taken out of the display cabinet every Friday and shown to the public and every year the town holds a procession, where the sacred relic tours the streets in a grand procession.
National Holy Heart Basilica, Brussels
In the capital city, you can see the world’s fifth biggest church. The enormous building is in the Art Deco style and is home to two different museums. It has a huge artistic focus.
Steel Church, Limburg
An artistic project, this church is not used for worship. Rather, it stands in the surrounding fields, appearing almost surreal and from certain angles, imaginary. It is ten metres high, and is made from steel panels and rods. From some perspectives it looks like a giant religious symbol, whereas from others, it appears to simply melt away into the picturesque surroundings.
Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude, Brabant
One of Belgium’s most stunning churches, the large Roman design church dates back to 1046 and is steeped in religious and historical significance. A strong part of the local culture and heritage, it offers a peaceful place of sanctuary and reflection when in the town. Visitors can admire the beautiful design and appreciate the serene atmosphere.
Notre Dame des Recollets Church, Liege
This church, made from limestone, is long, tall, and thin. The Notre Dame des Recollets Church is well known for the Black Madonna and Child statue. It is fairly unusual to see the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus depicted as being black. The statue is also widely believed to have been the subject of a miracle. During an earthquake in the late 1600s there are reports that Mary and Baby Jesus shifted position, so as they were facing each other, with their hands touching.
Saint Archangel Michel and Gabriel Cathedral, Brussels
This Orthodox cathedral dates back to the late 1800s. It is home to many different interesting statues. There are over 150 different figures to admire in the cathedral and its pretty grounds. Several important religious relics are also kept in the cathedral.
As well as taking in the typical sights in Belgium, why not pay a visit to some of these outstanding places of worship? Whatever your religious views are, you cannot help but be impressed with the skill, design, and brilliance of these buildings.