St Martin’s Church and St Martin’s Church Tower
St Martin's Church is a real eye-catcher right on the Grote Markt. Like a beacon, this heritage gem looks out over the city centre. Its 83 metre high tower has proven to be the perfect place to admire the Kortrijk skyline from up high. A visit to the tower is free, but you first have to negotiate the 246 steps before you can enjoy the panoramic view that more than makes up for the effort!
St Martin's Church goes back more than 1,000 years. Destroyed, rebuilt and reconstructed over the centuries, it houses a wealth of works of art as well as a fully-fledged 19th century carillon.
One of the most dramatic events is the disaster that befell St Martin's Church in 1862. On 7 August of that year, lightning struck and the building caught fire. The roof burned out completely and the bells came crashing down. One person died and the damage was enormous. Fortunately, many works of art were saved and, miraculously, the stately Sacrament Tower remained intact. The reconstruction of the church, however, took decades. The distinction between old and new is still evident in the different pillars.
The showpiece of the church is undoubtedly the 'Triptych of the Holy Spirit' by Bernard de Rijckere from 1587: a Pentecost scene with the baptism of Jesus and the creation of Adam. The triptych can be admired in the enclosed chapel. Impressive is also the unique Sacrament Tower of 6.5 metres high from 1585.
When you visit St Martin's Church with friends or family, you can immediately show off with some striking facts. In the west tower, there are 49 church bells, which can be played as a carillon. Together, they weigh no less than 18,700 kg.
By the way, did you know that peregrine falcons have been living in the St Martin's Tower for years? Their story is full of intrigue: adultery, fights, you name it. The feathered residents of St Martin's Tower are not to be trifled with.
It is impossible to visit St Martin's Church on your own. If you want more information, then why not book a paid visit with a guide? Contact Tourism Kortrijk on +32 (0)56 27 78 40 - firstname.lastname@example.org.