The Cathédrale Saints-Michel-et-Gudule dates back as early as the 9th century. Originally constructed as a chapel dedicated to St. Michael in the 9th century, it was replaced by a Romanesque church in 1047. In 1047, Lambert II, Count of Leuven founded a chapter in this church and organized the transportation of the relics of Saint Gudula, housed before then in Saint Gaugericus Church on Saint-Géry Island. The patron saints of the church, archangel St. Michael and the martyr St. Gudula, are also the patron saints of the city of Brussels. Saint Gudula dedicated her life to the poor and sick in her home place of St. Gery's Island, her relics were brought to the Church and she was venerated for 500 years. Strangely, she lost her status in 1962 when the second Vatican Council removed her along with many other saints. St. Gudula was reinstated in 1993 and continues her double dedication today. In the thirteenth century, the cathedral was renovated in the Gothic style. The choir was constructed between 1226 and 1276. The façade was completed in the mid-fifteenth century. The two front towers were the last part to be completed in the early 16th century under Charles V. The Cathedral Saints Michel et Gudule is the national church of Belgium, although it was only granted cathedral status in 1962. It is the finest surviving example of Brabant Gothic architecture.
It was a beautiful, sunny spring day, so we decided to go to Montmartre for some fresh air. The word Montmartre is translated to mean “mountain of the martyr” and was derived from the martyrdom of Saint Denis, the bishop of Paris, who was decapitated on the hill in 250 AD. Montmartre's most recognizable landmark is the Basilica Sacré-Coeur, constructed from 1876 to 1912. The white dome of this Roman Catholic basilica sits at the highest point in the city, at the summit of the “butte Montmartre” and the church is visited by millions of tourists each year. This hill outside the city was settled because, during the 19th century, Haussmann under Napoleon III redeveloped Paris and gave much of the prime land inside the city to his wealthy friends, who were charged with the task of developing it. The original inhabitants were forced to move to Paris's outskirts where they quickly established their own “town” without the rules and regulations of the city.
In the 13th century, a donation by the king of France, Philip Augustus, in the wake of his conquest of Normandy, enabled a start to be made on the Gothic section of the “Merveille”, two three-story buildings, crowned by the cloister and the refectory. The Merveille contains a number of great halls, kitchens, cloisters, and a dormitory.
The cloister is my favorite part of the whole monastery. As with other abbeys the cloister’s function is above all a communications center inspired by the atrium of a Roman villa and providing access to all the essential rooms: to the east, the refectory and the kitchens which no longer exist; to the south, one door led to the church another to the dormitory; to the west, the three traditional apertures must have opened into the chapter hall that was never built and a small door led to the archives. Only the north gallery, in the direction of the sea was not meant to serve as a way of communication with other rooms. The principal functions of monastic life, except for work and reception, were thus distributed around the cloister.