The Holy Savior Cathedral (Sint-Salvatorskathedraal) was not originally built to be a cathedral - it obtained that status only in the 19th century. When Sint-Salvator was founded in the 10th century, it was just a common parish church.
History of Bruges Cathedral
At that time, the Sint-Donatius Church, which is located at the very heart of Bruges opposite of the town hall, was the most important religious building of the city. At the end of the 18th century, the French inhabitants of Bruges threw out the bishop and destroyed the Sint-Donatius Church, his residence.
In 1834, shortly after Belgium's independence in 1830, a new bishop was installed in Bruges and the Sint-Salvator church obtained the status of cathedral. However, the building didn't really look like a cathedral. It was a lot smaller and less imposing than the nearby Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk and had to be adapted to its new role. For instance, a higher and more impressive tower was needed.
The oldest surviving part, dating from the end of the 12th century, formed the base of the mighty tower. In 1839 a fire destroyed the roof of the cathedral. William Chantrell, an English architect, famous for his neo-Gothic restorations of English churches, was asked to restore to Sint-Salvator its former glory. At the same time he was authorized to make a project for a higher tower, in order to make it taller than that of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk.
Instead of adding a Neo-Gothic tower extension, Chantrell chose a very personal Romanesque design. After completion there was a lot of criticism and the royal commission for monuments, without authorization by Chantrell, had placed a small peak on top of the tower because the original design was deemed too flat.
What to See at Bruges Cathedral
The Sint-Salvator Cathedral currently houses many works of art that were originally stored in its destroyed predecessor, the Sint-Donatius Cathedral. The wall-carpets that can be seen when entering the church were manufactured in Brussels by Jasper van der Borcht in 1731. These were commissioned by bishop Hendrik van Susteren for Sint-Donatius. In the choir the original 16th century podium can still be admired.
Quick Facts on Bruges Cathedral
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|Coordinates:||51.205566° N, 3.221548° E|
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- Wikipedia under GFDL.
- Sint-Salvatorskathedraal (Holy Savior Cathedral) - Frommer's
- The Saint Salvator Cathedral - Travel Info on Belgium
- Kathedraal St.-Salvator - AAA
- Architecture in Belgium (photos) - Boston College Digital Archive of Architecture
- St. Salvator Cathedral - IgoUgo user review
- Bruges Cathedral - Go Historic
- Photos of Bruges Cathedral - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Bruges Cathedral
Below is a location map and aerial view of Bruges Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.