St. Martin's Church
The site occupied by St. Martin's Church (Sint-Maartenskerk) was already home to a 'place of worship' in around 650 AD. Later a Romanesque church was built there, which was replaced by a Gothic church in the Middle Ages, built between 1390 and 1466. The Brabantine Gothic stone tower dates from 1439. But in 1862 the tower was struck by lightning and the wooden section was completely destroyed by fire. The spire was fully restored to its former glory over the next few years. The wooden spire houses a carillon with 49 bells. The church is a hall church comprising three aisles. The middle choir, two side choirs and the St. Anna chapel were rebuilt in Neo-Gothic styles after being destroyed by fire in 1862.
The church possesses many hidden treasures. Its showpiece has to be the 'Triptych of the Holy Spirit' by Bernard de Rijckere from 1587: a Pentecostal scene featuring the baptism of Jesus and the creation of Adam. The unique 6,5 metre-high Sacraments Tower from 1585 cannot fail to impress.
Valuable church items including the 16th century chasubles and antependia (hangings for the altar), are classed as Flemish masterpieces. It was decided to turn St. Eloois chapel (1450) into a treasury to preserve these pieces in an optimal manner. The treasury is open to the public at regular hours.
The city walk ' A city's metamorphosis' and the '10 000 steps walk' pass by the church.
Open on weekdays from 7.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (from 1 October to 31 March until 5 p.m.).
Not to be visited during worship services.
During the summer, guided tours are regularly organised in the St Martin's Tower.
The view on top of the St Martin's Tower is, after all, nothing short of spectacular.