Tournai Cathedral

Tournai Cathedral
Our Lady of Tournai
Notre-Dame de Tournai (French)
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Doornik (Dutch)
Notre-Dame de Tournai, Belgium

View of the five Romanesque towers of the cathedral of Tournai (XII century)

Basic information
Location Tournai, Hainaut, Belgium
Geographic coordinates 50°36′23.58″N 3°23′19.89″E / 50.60655°N 3.3888583°E / 50.60655; 3.3888583Coordinates: 50°36′23.58″N 3°23′19.89″E / 50.60655°N 3.3888583°E / 50.60655; 3.3888583
Affiliation Roman Catholic
District Diocese of Tournai
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Cathedral
Heritage designation 1936, 2000
Leadership Bishop Guy Harpigny
Architectural description
Architect(s) Building: unknown [1]
Sacristy: G. Hersecap[1]
Holy Spirit chapel: Simon Vollant[1]
Architectural type Church
Architectural style Romanesque, Gothic, French Baroque
Direction of façade NW
Groundbreaking Nave: 1140 et 1171[2]
Transepts: 1199-1213[1]
Transept vaults: 1243-1255[1]
Gothic choir:1243-1255[1]
Sacristy: 1676[1]
Holy Spirit chapel: 1680[1] [3]
Completed 1700[1]
Length 134 metres (440 ft)
Width 60 metres (200 ft)
Width (nave) 20 metres (66 ft)
Height (max) 83 metres (272 ft)
Spire(s) 5 (7 planned)
Spire height 83 metres (272 ft)
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official name: Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai
Criteria: ii, iv
Designated: 2000[4]
Reference #: 1009
Type: Cultural
State Party:  Belgium
Region: Europe and North America

The Cathedral of Our Lady (French: Notre-Dame de Tournai, Dutch: Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Doornik) is Roman Catholic church, see of the Diocese of Tournai in Tournai, Belgium. It has been classified both as a Wallonia's major heritage since 1936[5] and as a World Heritage Site since 2000.



There was a diocese centered at Tournai from the late sixth century and this structure of local blue-gray stone occupies rising ground near the south bank of the Scheldt, which divides the city of Tournai into two roughly equal parts. Begun in the 12th century on even older foundations, the building combines the work of three design periods with striking effect, the heavy and severe character of the Romanesque nave contrasting remarkably with the Transitional work of the transept and the fully developed Gothic of the choir. The transept is the most distinctive part of the building, with its cluster of five bell towers and apsidal (semicircular) ends.

Southern transept and towers.

The nave belongs mostly to the first third of the 12th century. Prefiguring the Early Gothic style, it has a second-tier gallery between the ground-floor arcade and the triforium. Pilasters between the round-arched windows in the clerestory help support the 18th-century vaulting that replaced the original ceiling, which was of wood, and flat.

The transept arms, built in about the mid-12th century, have apsidal ends, a feature borrowed in all probability from certain Rhenish churches, and which would appear to have made its influence felt in the northeast of France, as at Noyon and Soissons. The square towers that flank the transept arms reach a height of 83 metres (272 ft). They vary in detail, some of the arcade work with which they are enriched being in the round-arched and some in the pointed style.

West portico.

Bishop Gautier de Marvis (1219-1252) had the original Romanesque choir demolished in the 13th Century, in order to replace it with a Gothic choir of much grander dimensions, inspired by the likes of Amiens Cathedral. The construction of the new choir began in 1242, and ended in 1255. The rest of the cathedral was supposed to be rebuilt in the same style as the choir, but this was never attempted, the only later additions being the western porch, and a large Gothic chapel which was built alongside one of the side aisles, whose original walls and windows disappeared in the process.

The Cathedral was damaged by a severe tornado on the 24 August 1999. Assessment of the damage revealed underlying structural problems and the Cathedral has been undergoing extensive repairs and archaeological investigation ever since. The Brunin Tower was stabilised in 2003.

In recognition of the Tournai cathedral's cultural value, UNESCO designated the building a World Heritage Site in the year 2000.



  • Total length: 134 metres (440 ft)
  • Number: 5
  • Height: 83 metres (272 ft)
  • Height: 26 metres (85 ft)
  • Length: 48 metres (157 ft)
  • Width : 20 metres (66 ft)
  • Height: 58 metres (190 ft)
  • Width: 36 metres (118 ft)
  • Height: 48 metres (157 ft)
  • Length: 66.5 metres (218 ft)
  • Width : 14 metres (46 ft)


See also



External links

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