Rising above the hectic chaos of the Lower Town on Treurenberg in a no-man’s land between the Lower and Upper Towns, this magnificent twin-towered Roman Catholic church is the “purest flowering of the Gothic style”; its choir is Belgium’s earliest Brabantine Gothic work. Begun in 1226, it was officially consecrated as a cathedral as recently as 1961. The 16th-century Habsburg Emperor Charles V donated the superb stained-glass windows in the Chapelle du St-Sacrément. Apart from these, the spare interior decoration focuses attention on the soaring columns and arches as well as the extravagantly carved wooden pulpit, which depicts Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden, and the statues of the Apostles lined up along the columns supporting the central aisle. It’s the official wedding and funeral church of the Belgian Royal Family and contains the glossy black tombs of heroic Brabantine dukes.
In the crypt lie the foundations of the earlier Romanesque church dating from the 11th century. The Trésor (Treasury) is also worth visiting for its glowing ecclesiastical vessels in gold, silver, and precious stones.