Collegiate Church of Sainte-Gertrude
With its impressive 102-metre nave, two sets of choir stalls and 11th-century crypt, the Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude is one of the oldest and most important Romanesque churches in Europe. Explore this superb jewel in Nivelles, 20 km from Brussels!
A Brief History
The Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude is a grandiose monument of exceptional harmony. It bears witness to the existence of an abbey founded in the same place as far back as the 7th century. The daughter of Pépin the Elder, Gertrude, great-great-aunt of Charlemagne, was the first abbess. Today, in the heart of Walloon Brabant, the collegiate church regularly brings together the Christians of the parish of Saint Gertrude. It was consecrated in 1046 in the presence of Wazon, Bishop of Liège, and Henry III, Emperor of the Holy German Empire.
Archaeological excavations have uncovered five churches (built between the 7th and 10th centuries) buried under the Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude in Nivelles. The crypt hidden under the eastern choir is the largest in our region. In addition to this treasure, you can also visit the underground archaeological site under the main nave, the cloister and the central bell tower which houses the bells and the carillon.
The cloister gives an idea of the abbey complex dedicated to Saint Gertrude.
Jean de Nivelles
The south turret houses the bell-striker, called Jean de Nivelles or ‘Djan Djan’. This small copper warrior is hung on the last drum of the south turret. He is 2.08 m high and weighs 350 kg. He has been striking the hours and half hours with his hammer for 6 centuries. This figure evokes the character who looks out for the enemy or fires. It used to be located on the town hall of Nivelles and reached its present location around 1620.
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An air raid shelter is hidden under the Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude. Rediscovered during archaeological excavations, it is believed to have been built during World War II. The structure has been very well preserved.
The Collegiate Church, it’s also…
You should try the speciality of Nivelles: the ‘tarte al djote’! This savoury tart consists of fermented cow’s milk cheese and chard. It is eaten warm covered with salted butter.
The Collegiate Church watches over the Grand Place in Nivelles. Various cultural, economic and folklore events take place here at its feet.
Make the most of your visit to Nivelles by strolling through the picturesque streets of the Saint-Jacques district. This is the former district of the pilgrims of Compostela and then of the brewers.
The patron saint of Nivelles is also honoured during the Tour Sainte-Gertrude. Other events take place in or in front of the Collegiate Church: the Aclot carnival (the largest in Walloon Brabant), carillon concerts, the Nivelles agricultural fair, Nivelles Village and many flea markets during the summer.
OpeningDaily except on Sunday mornings: 9am - 5pm
Individual guided tours:
Student, senior: €5
Child (6-12 years old): €2
vive Djan-Djan, vive Djan-Djan, c’èst l’pus vî ome dè Nivèle
vive Djan-Djan, vive Djan-Djan, c’èst l’pu vî d’nos-abitants,
Jean de Nivelles, the oldest inhabitant.