Cathédrale Notre - Dame de Tournai Cathédrale Notre - Dame de Tournai

Cathédrale Notre - Dame de Tournai

The Cathédrale Notre – Dame de Tournai or the Cathedral of Our Lady is one of the most striking examples of architecture that artfully combines three periods of architectural influence such as the Romanesque, the Gothic and the Transitional, in Belgium and throughout Europe. It has been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2000. UNESCO granted the cathedral of Tournai the honor because it is distinguished by a Romanesque nave of extraordinary dimensions, a wealth of sculpture on its capitals and a transept topped by five towers, all precursors of the Gothic style. The religious edifice that has weathered almost 800 years of existence is the best destinations for the devout Catholic and curious historian.
History
Today's magnificent five-towered cathedral is one of many places of worship that have stood on this spot. It is said that until the year 761 AD there was a  pagan temple, after that, there was a church. In the year 850, the 8th-century church was replaced by another, which in 881 was burned to the ground by the Viking raiders. In 1060, after fire again destroyed the replacement church, which was rebuilt by 1089 and became a place of refuge for a plague-stricken population.
After fire again destroyed the replacement church in 1060, it was rebuilt by 1089 and became a place of refuge for a plague-stricken population. During the years 1141 - 1171, a Romanesque cathedral was built because Tournai had became the seat of a bishop. It is this Romanesque cathedral that still stands today, with some additions.
On September 14, 1090, after the dreaded disease had abated, the bishop led a great procession through the cathedral to honor Our Lady, who was credited with miraculous cures of sick pilgrims who had poured into the cathedral to pray before her statue. Since then, the Procession of Tournai has taken place every year, except in 1559 when Calvinists violently interrupted the tradition.
To keep up with the Gothic style architecture popping up all over Europe, in the 13th century, a Tournai bishop oversaw a stylistic face-lift to the cathedral. He had replaced the Romanesque choir with a Gothic one, ordered stained-glass windows and created a soaring, graceful choir, modeled on the cathedrals of Amiens, Cologne and Soissons. The long, low Romanesque nave never did got its Gothic face-lift, nevertheless, the result is not disharmony, but a successful combination between these two styles.
In August 1999, a major tornado brought great damage to the cathedral Tournai and to the city. The damage to Tournai Cathedral also revealed underlying structural problems, and renovation work has been carried out on-and-off ever since.
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What to See
Paintings by Rubens and Jordaens adorn the interior, along with 700-year-old murals, a Renaissance pulpit, and a rose window of stained glass. But the biggest attraction is the Trésor (Treasury), which houses a vast collection of antiquities priceless and religious relics. The most valuable exhibit of the Treasury is La Chasse de Notre-Dame (the Shrine of Our Lady) created by Nicholas of Verdun in 1205 - a reliquary with a beautiful gold-sculpted covering; this object takes the place of honor in the Procession of Tournai. The original relics were probably destroyed in 1566, during the Iconoclasm because they are no longer inside.
Other treasures include a 14th-century ivory statue of the Virgin, a jewel-encrusted 10th-century Byzantine cross and 15th-century tapestries (one 72 feet long).
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