Church of St John the Baptist, Brussels!

So I keep you up north with another of my favorites cities in Europe, Brussels. Again, been here several times over the years and have family near the Belgian border with France. So used it as a jumping place to visit the northern countries.  There is so much to see in Brussels, really, needs to be seen more by all.

However, in my walks, I have come some interesting buildings and monuments that falls into the off the beaten path category. One of them is the Church of St John the Baptist at Béguinage at Place du Béguinage, best ways is walking as the city is very walkable but to get close you can use public transports such as on bus/tram Line 4 stop/arrêt De Brouckere. And  Bus Line 88 stop/arrêt Beguinage. Also, by Metro lines 1A and 1B stop/arrêt Sainte-Catherine.

The Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage, located in the historic center of the city of Brussels, is a baroque-Flemish-style Church. It’s construction began in 1657.

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A long history I like

Living first scattered in the village, wishes were received from the Bishop of Cambrai. The permission in 1252 to build a large enclosure made of individual houses that allow them to live communally. It is called Notre-Dame de la Vigne (Our Lady of the Vine). This one becomes very important, possessing at the best moment of its history, its laundry, its mill on the Senne river,and its hospital. In 1579, the Gothic Church of Béguinage was looted by the Calvinists. A new baroque-style Church replaced the old one. The first stone is laid in 1657. At the beginning of the 19C, little-maintained small houses were made available to indigent elderly people. The building became a parish Church in 1801. In 1824, a large part of béguinage constructions is considered dilapidated so they are demolished to make way for the construction of a large hospice, now the Pachéco hospice. The last houses of Béguinage disappeared in 1856. In 2006, the reconstruction of the structure was undertaken by using oak wood from the Loire, France. This structure then received 3 000 m2 of slates from Spain.

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From the Béguinage alone remains its remarkable Church of St. John the Baptist, built from 1657. In late Baroque style, it was built on the foundations of the Gothic church destroyed during religious disturbances, and this explains its plan in the form of a Latin cross that is not usual for a baroque church. Its facade presents everything that the architectural tendencies of the late 17C allowed such as pilasters, columns, capitals, torches, œils-de-bœuf in a loaded but harmonious ensemble that already reminds us of the neo-classical style that is not far away. At the beginning of the 18C, an elegant campanile lace tower was added.

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In the interior you can see the master altar is in Louis XVI style. The central medallion represents the Holy Family. Backed by the walls of the aisles: the six confessional, from the 18C, adorned with feminine allegorical figures holding various objects related to the sacrament of Reconciliation.  The pulpit of truth, also of the 18C, is consecrated to St. Dominic the founder of the Dominicans.  A large rock (wooden) supports the tub and the staircase of the pulpit. Dominique is represented as the winner of the Cathar heresy.

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As for the paintings what holds the most attention is a series of paintings by Théodore van Loon. The latter was designated at the time to reconstruct the pictorial heritage following the iconoclastic destructions during the 16C  Wars of religion. However, of the six paintings of Van Loon, only two remain visible in the Church: the Coronation of St. Ursula (North transept) and the Adoration of the Magi.  One is placed at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts (l’Assomption), four other Van Loons of the Church have just been restored on the occasion of the exhibition  “Theodore Van Loon, a Caravaggio between Rome and Brussels.” A remarkable 16C painting is found in the right transept. A monumental cross of Christ  is at the end of the south transept.  In the south transept, a moving stone tomb, from an Antwerp workshop, can be admired. The Way of the Cross in plaster, done in 1862.  Therere regular exhibitions, parishioners have a strong commitment to the poor and emigrants here.

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Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

YELP on the Church some pictures

Tourist office of Brussels on the Church

You have to see it in full sun when the brightness plays on the stone. You have to visit it and be surprised by the few that are made, to the point that it serves as a refuge for homeless people who cook there!! Another off the beaten path to see even in Brussels!

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

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