The oldest text about a church on this location goes back to 1047. The duke Lambert II
built it on the Molenberg (mill mountain). It was a romanesque church in
honour of Saint Michael, the archangel, who was also the patron of Brussels. On November
16th 1047, the day the romanesque church was consecrated, the duke also had the relics of
Saint-Gudule moved to this church. They changed the official name into 'the
chapter church of the saints Michael and Gudule'. But for the people, Saint-
Gudule won, and the church was called the 'Saint Gudule'. (For more information about this
saint (in Dutch), see Sint-Goedele).
Weirdly enough, the real, official name for the cathedral is 'Saint-Michaels cathedral'.
In 1967, when the church was promoted to cathedral, Saint-Gudule was
removed from the name. Monseigneur Suenens, the cardinal at that time, removed her,
because she was not officially recognized by the Vatican. It is however her statue ,(from
1900 by Jan Delporte) , and not one of Saint-Michael's, which crowns the
The replacement of the romanesque church by a gothic building didn't happen
overnight. They started around 1220 with the ambulatory and the
radial chapels, and ended with the western towers.
Between those, they built the nave and the short
transept, roofed by a cross-ribbed vaulting. The
southern tower was ready in 1451, the northern one in 1475. Afterwards, the ambulatory and
the radial chapels were pulled down, to be replaced by the northern Holy Sacraments chapel
(1539), and the southern Our-Ladies chapel (1651-1656). The apse chapel was
replaced in 1672-1675 by a small baroque building.
Lots of famous architects contributed to this building. We name a few: Jacob van
Thienen, Jan van Ruysbroek and Gilles de Briedere (all
The monumental stairway was added in 1860, and the northern porch was added in 1881-1886
(by Louis de Curte).
From the interior, we mention: