On entering the church (how was this for a doorknob!),
Bob and I had the opportunity to climb the 150+ steps of the spiral staircase to partake in the panoramic view. It was well worth the effort, as we found ourselves espying Antwerp far in the distance from the top of the fourteenth century tower.
The wood carvings
were worth a closer look.
It’s amazing where one discovers interesting snippets of information.
About Sint Gertrudiskerk
- Constructed in approximately 1370, the tower is the most ancient section of today’s building that was completed in 1477.
- Replacing an earlier church or two, named after the town’s patron saint, Gertrude, the building commenced as a simple structure, but as time passed, in keeping with the economic growth of the town during the 1400s, to exhibit the town’s economic posterity, enlargement of the church took place.
- Unfortunately, a recession – in part caused by the silting of the harbour – during the seventeenth century, saw the construction phase finishing, and the new works disintegrating into ruins.
- The church was looted during times of war and was even used for storage of military equipment. With the transformation from Catholic to Protestant, sections of the structure were demolished and incorporated into the town’s fortifications.
- Unable to afford the funds required for its upkeep, the community allowed ownership to be taken on by the city.
- 1972 found the structure engulfed in flames,
an occurrence that had taken place several times over the centuries. Sadly, the entire centre section was so badly damaged that the cost of replicating it was impossible to consider. Even then, funds still fell well short. The solution found was for the two city centre parishes to amalgamate and use Sint Gertrudiskerk, sell the other buildings
and furnish the historical church with the furnishings that came from the smaller entities.
The result is a large open church, minimalistic in appearance and quite striking as a result.