Archive for July 19th, 2018

July 19, 2018

Ahh Brussels and the Cathedral St Michael and St Gudule!

And I come back to Brussels, well I like it, is the architecture of the north and the tastes of the south of Europe. I am lucky to have family right by the border Belgium/France and had used them as a base to go into Belgium and its wonderful cities. Of course, the family trips were done by car, and then on business trips I have used planes, trains and automobiles combinations ! Brussels is nice and great memories of family trips.

I have written before quite a bit on Brussels but never on this particular part in details aparts , generally many deserve a post for each.  You can do search in my blog on Brussels and find many interesting facts and sights. In fact, never written a post on the wonderful Cathedral of St Michael and St Gundule! Well its about time.

The Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudule (used to be collegiate Church of St Michael) is the cocathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels located in Brussels. It is dedicated to St. Michael and St. Gudule.  Lambert II, Count of Leuven, and his wife Oda de Verdun, founded in 1047 a chapter of 12 canons in the Church of St. Michael (hence the name of “collegiate”) and transported the relics of Saint Gudule until then preserved in the Church of Saint-Géry which occupied, until the French Revolution, the current location of the Halles Saint-Géry (market).


In 1200, under the impetus of Henri I of Brabant, the Church was restored and enlarged by the construction of a Western facade , accompanied by two round towers. In 1226, the Duke of Brabant Henri II decided to build a Gothic collegiate Church which was not completed until the beginning of the 16C, shortly after the birth of  king Charles V. Some chapels were added to the 16C and 17C.  The construction of the current Church begins with the choir in 1226. The nave and the transept dating from the 14C and 15C are of Brabant Gothic style. The façade is surmounted by two towers and dates from the years 1470-1485. It was only in 1962 that Brussels, hitherto dependent on the archbishopric of Malineneux, was the Primate of Belgium, and was associated with this episcopal office under the title of the Diocese of Mechelen-Brussels. This is how the collegiate Church was promoted to the rank of CoCathedral.

The cathedral offers, in the basement, an archaeological site created by the placement, in 1991, above the vestiges of the ancient collegiate Church, a slab which, while supporting the paving of the choir, cleans an underground space which had already been spared by the Construction of the 13C Gothic building. At the time, it was a matter of safeguarding access to the Romanesque crypt to allow for the perpetuation of the use of burial sites, which continued until the end of the 19C. Two staircases give access to this site, which allows to observe it through thick transparent glasses arranged above the excavations.

A bit on the description of the Cathedral.

The western façade is typically Gothic-style brabant by its highly flamboyant décor. But it is also inspired by the typology of French Cathedrals, with its two towers and three portals surmounted by their gable. However, unlike the French facades it has no rosette, the latter being replaced by a large Brabant canopy. The two towers whose tops are laid out on terraces the facade is on three levels. The lower level is that of the portals and their gable. The two side portals are located at the base of the towers. The middle level is that of the large canopy, characteristic of the style ogival Brabant, flanked by two tall bays, narrow and slender each located in the axis of one of the towers. Finally at the top of the façade the third level presents a huge triangular pinion  perched above a gallery lace with fine balusters, and topped by several flamboyant pinnacles, one of which, at the top of the pinion, is particularly impressive and reaches more than 55 meters in height. On either side of this pinion, stand the third and penultimate floors of the two towers, with two very slender bays with giblets.


The nave is supported by two-tiered buttresses, of the same type as those created for the first time at the Cathedral of Soissons, and ensuring maximum stability. The chaperone of each of the upper buttresses is topped by a pinnacle at its peak near the nave. The same with each of the abutments.  The back of the chaperone of each upper arch has a pipeline to evacuate the rainwater from the Cathedral roof. At its outer end, this pipe crosses the upper part of the abutment to end with a gargoyle intended to project the waters as far as possible from the building.  On either side of the nave, between these buttresses, there is a series of small, shallow lateral Chapels, each of which is outwardly fitted with a beautiful, six-lancet, flamboyant canopy. The facade of each of the Chapels is surmounted by a typically Brabant triangular pinion, also crowned with a small pinnacle. Each side of the nave appears well decorated and very elegant.


The Cathedral St Michael and St Gundule has 114 meters long with the towers at 64 meters ,inside the width is 54 meters and the ceiling is at 25 meters. The Cathedral has beautiful stained glass windows, notably from the 16C, 17C and 19C. The interior in the nave with eight barlongues or rectangular spans, the elevation is three levels: large arcades communicating with the two collateral, triforium and high windows.

The nave presents all the features of the Gothic style Brabant the statues on the left represent Simon le zealot, Bartholome, James the Minor, John the Evangelist, Andrew and Peter; the ones on the right represent Thaddeus, Matthew, Philip, Thomas, James the Mayor and Paul.  Sixteen small lateral Chapels (eight in the north and eight in the south) open on the aisles. Each is equipped with a large, flamboyant bay with 19C stained-glass windows.  The nave features a 17C baroque pulpit carved in 1699. The base represents Adam and Eve driven from the Garden of Eden after plucking the forbidden fruit. In the summit, the Virgin and the Child piercing the serpent symbolize the redemption.

The organ was built in 2000 by organ factor Gerhard Grenzing . The  Choir of the Cathedral also has three rectangular bays and a five-pans apse. Its elevation in three levels; large arcades communicating with the ambulatory, triforium and high windows. It is surrounded by a large ambulatory which opens the large hexagonal baroque Chapel of the Madeleine, which became the Maes Chapel (17C). The addition of two large lateral Chapels at the level of this choir (Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Deliverance) made it so much wider than the nave and even the transept, although the latter was  done at the end of the 14C, by the addition of a narthex at the end of the south brace.


The Chapels houses the treasure of the Cathedral and contains some superb works of religious art, including a cross-reliquary with Anglo-Saxon inscription dating from around the year 1000, the Cross of Brussels , a Virgin and the Child, as well as the canvas of  The Legend of Saint Gudule.  The vast Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament lies on the north side of the ambulatory. In a flamboyant Gothic style, it was built in the 16C.

The Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Deliverance is the corresponding and quasi-symmetrical Chapel in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. Like the latter, it constitutes a small Church in the Cathedral, located to the right (south) of the ambulatory with which it communicates by four large arcades. Built at the request of the Infante of Spain Isabel (daughter of king Felipe  II of Spain) that had married Archduke Albert of Habsburg, it was completed in 1649.

The axial Chapel of the Cathedral formerly Chapel of the Madeleine is today called Chapelle Maes. Built in the 17C, it is baroque-style and hexagonal in shape. It is lodged between the abutments of the two posterior buttresses of the bedside. It is surmounted by a small dome, which itself is crowned with a lace-up lantern. The Chapel is endowed with berries including the 19C stained glass.






Some of the webpages that will help you plan your trip here are

Official site of the Cathedral :

Cathedral main site in English:

Tourist office Brussels :

Beautiful 3D view of the exterior and interior of the Cathedral :

Hope you enjoy, of course there are so much to see in Brussels ,and some are very popular, but this is part of the history of the city, its architecture styles, and beautiful place to see. Brussels is worth the visit.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 19, 2018

A different museum, Bersaglieri

In my travels trying at best I can to find new things to see and do, we walk a lot. Of course, getting to a city , we love the car ,nothing beats the car for convenience anywhere. However, once in the city, we walk above ground! And doing this in Rome is heavens.

We came by here ,unexpectedly taking the bus 62 that took us from Nomentana to the Vatican City easy regular bus and lovely sights. We saw the building, and on the way back we stop nearby to walk to it and continue home.

I like to tell you about the museo storico dei Bersaglieri or the historical museum of the military Bersaglieri. Located at the Porta Pia, via XX Settembre. It is housed in the Porta Pia building desired by Pope Pius IV and designed by Michelangelo in 1561-64. The prospectus outside a cornice on Via Nomentana is an addition of 1864. In 1932 the premises were assigned to the museum, which was already established in 1887 at the Bersaglieri Inspectorate and housed until then in the premises of the old barracks of S. Francesco a Ripa.

In the new museum, inaugurated on September 18, 1932 together with the National Monument to the Bersagliere erected in the forecourt of Porta Pia, are preserved paintings, photographs, documents and memorabilia from the wars of independence in the countryside of Africa to the WWII era.  In the inner courtyard of the building, in addition to the shrine in honor of over one hundred thousand bersaglieri fallen between 1848 and 1945, were placed the monument to Henry Toti and the bronze busts of Alessandro La Marmora, founder of the order,  Godfrey Mameli and Luciano Manara. It is open Mondays to Fridays from  9h30-13h and 14h-15h30. Included in the Roma Pass or single entry , better contact to make sure is open as if events or military functions it can be closed; the email is here:

A bit of history I like

The Bersaglieri Historical Museum was created to guard memorabilia, documentation and memories related to the campaigns of the Bersaglieri Corps. There is also the tomb of Enrico Toti, the cyclist who fell in WWI, decorated with gold medal for military valor. It has a library and a historical archive. Administratively, it is a military agency employed by the military command of the capital and under the Ministry of Defense.

The work of collecting memorabilia was initiated by the inspectors of Bersaglieri , until the inspectorate was suppressed in 1895. In any case, the activity of the two senior officers was continued from 1902 to 1907  creating a special institution for the custody of memorabilia, then evolved into the museum then located in the Barracks “the Marmora  “In Trastevere, inaugurated on 18 June 1904 by King Vittorio Emanuele III. Embellished with memories of the mutual Aid Society between Bersaglieri (now the Bersaglieri National Association), the museum gained legal status on December 27, 1921 and was transferred to Porta Pia in 1931, when the municipality of the capital made the premises available. The inauguration took place on September 18, 1932, coinciding with that of the monument to the Bersagliere in the square opposite.

Entering from the north side you reach the ground floor with the room La Marmora, the Hall of Honor and the shrine: in the first are exhibited two models of carbines designed by the founder of Bersaglieri, Alessandro la Marmora, whose proposal to set up the body of the Bersaglieri, Subjected to King Charles Albert of Savoy, it is kept in the Hall of Honor, while the sword which it wielded in the Battle of the Bridge of Goito is placed at the center of the shrine, accompanied by the medals to the collective value assigned to the units of Bersaglieri exposed thanks to a Royal Decree dated 16 May 1909.  On the south side of the ground floor and on the first floor you can see weapons, uniforms, portraits and memories dating back to all the historical facts that the Bersaglieri took part in.

Rome Rome Rome Rome Rome

A nice historical museum on the history of Italy seldom mentioned or visit, sadly. It is worth a detour and you will be glad you did.  The official government page on it is here in Italian: Ministry of Defense on the Bersaglieri museum

The tourist office of Rome has more in English :

Ah and a bit on the Bersaglieri I found interesting while there. The Bersaglieri  are a corps of the Italian Army. Created in 1836 by General Alessandro La Marmora to serve in the Royal Sardinian Army , which will later become the royal Army of Italy, this light infantry unit is characterized by its great mobility, by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, used Only in the parade uniform in the contemporary era, decorated with feathers of Heather Rooster also present on the modern combat helmets, and by his fanfare marching in the step pace playing the hymn of the Bersagliers Flik Flok. ok.

Hope you enjoy it. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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