Tournai Cathedral

The Cathedral of Our Lady (French: Notre-Dame de Tournai, Dutch: Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Doornik), or Tournai Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral, 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.

Our Lady of Tournai
Notre-Dame de Tournai
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Doornik
Notre-Dame de Tournai, Belgium
View of the five Romanesque towers of the Cathedral of Tournai (12th century)
AffiliationRoman Catholic
DistrictDiocese of Tournai
Ecclesiastical or organizational statusCathedral
LeadershipBishop Guy Harpigny
LocationTournai, Hainaut, Belgium
Geographic coordinates50°36′23.58″N 3°23′19.89″E / 50.6065500°N 3.3888583°E / 50.6065500; 3.3888583Coordinates: 50°36′23.58″N 3°23′19.89″E / 50.6065500°N 3.3888583°E / 50.6065500; 3.3888583
Architect(s)Building: unknown [1]
Sacristy: G. Hersecap[1]
Holy Spirit chapel: Simon Vollant[1]
StyleRomanesque, Gothic, French Baroque
GroundbreakingNave: 1140 and 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]
Direction of façadeNW
Length134 metres (440 ft)
Width60 metres (200 ft)
Width (nave)20 metres (66 ft)
Height (max)83 metres (272 ft)
Spire(s)5 (7 planned)
Spire height83 metres (272 ft)
Official name: Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai
Criteriaii, iv
Reference no.1009
State Party Belgium
RegionEurope and North America


Early historyEdit

There was a diocese centered at Tournai from the late 6th 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 north-east 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 had the earlier 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 rood screen is a Renaissance masterpiece by Flemish sculptor Cornelis Floris and dates from 1573.

Damage and restorationEdit

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 Tournai cathedral's cultural value, UNESCO designated the building a World Heritage Site in 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 outside: 58 metres (190 ft)
  • Height inside: 47 metres (154 ft)
  • Width: 36 metres (118 ft)
  • Height: 48 metres (157 ft)
  • Length: 66.5 metres (218 ft)
  • Width : 14 metres (46 ft)


Tournai Cathedral has five bells: Marc, Marie-Nicolas, Marie-Étienne, Marie-Gasparine (also known as Marie-Pontoise by Tournaisians) and Catherine. Marie-Gasparine and Marie-Étienne are considered bourdon bells due to their deep notes. Marie-Gasparine is the largest of the five bells, it was cast in 1843 and weighs 9 tons.



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Description of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Tournai". Picture Library. Royal Institute for the Study and Conservation of Belgium's Artistic Heritage. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  2. ^ Bony 1983, p. 159
  3. ^ Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Tournai. "La chapelle du Saint-Esprit". Official website (in French). Diocèse de Tournai. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai". Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  5. ^ "L'ensemble de la Cathédrale Notre-Dame à l'exception de l'orgue de choeur (partie instrumentale et buffet)". Patrimoine Wallon (in French). Direction de la Protection - Région Wallone. Retrieved 7 July 2011. - n° 57081-CLT-0002-01 - 5 February 1936

External linksEdit