Nivelles (pop. 23,000) is a quiet town between Brussels and Charleroi. Although it is pretty enough, it does not boast many sights apart from its grandiose Romanesque St Gertrude's Collegiate Church.
Founded as an abbey in 645 by St Gertrude, the present collegiate church was originally built in the 11th century and restored in the 18th century, which explains its splendid condition.
On the clock tower is a statue of Jean de Nivelles, the clock jack which symbolises the city. It was offered by the Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, in the 15th century. It received its name in the 17th century in honour to the 15th-century French lord of Nivelles.
St Gertrude's is one of the few Romanesque cathedral in Belgium along with those of Tournai and Spa.
How to get there
Nivelles is about 40km south of Brussels and 40km north of Charleroi. The quickest way by car is via the E19 from Brussels or Mons, or E420 from Charleroi.
By train, Nivelles is 30 min from Brussels or Charleroi, and 1h from Namur or Mons.
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