Saint Catherine church will undergo careful renovations to north façade
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Saint Catherine church will undergo careful renovations to north façade

The north facade of the church has turned black as a result of soot pollution. Credit: Belga

The north façade of the iconic Sainte-Catherine de Bruxelles church will be getting a renovation over the next two to three years intended to restore the structure to its original glory with the help of expert craftsmen.

Building investment fund Beliris will be overseeing the careful restoration, just as they did for the west façade, and estimate the restoration costs at €3 million.

“This church is an important part of the city of Brussels,” MP Karine Lalieux, who is overseeing the operation along with Beliris, told The Brussels Times. “The church remains a place of worship but it has also become over time a meeting place for people who like to sit and gather.”

While Lalieux notes that gathering is limited as a result of the coronavirus, she points out that the church’s location – on the site of a basin of the old port of Brussels – makes it one of a backdrop for many events under normal circumstances, like the Christmas Market.

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The 19th century structure is in the historical heart of Brussels, and the “survivor of an eventful history.” It replaced an even older building on the site that was constructed in the 15th century.

The north façade of the church, which opens onto the Marché aux Poissons, has turned black as a result of soot pollution.

“It is part of the heritage of our city, anchored in a district very popular with its citizens and also Belgian and foreign tourists. The restoration of the north façade of Saint Catherine’s Church overlooking the Fish Market will give a new face to this church and the neighborhood,” says Lalieux.

Inspired by the French churches of the 16th century, such as the church of Saint-Eustache in Paris, the Saint Catherine Church’s architecture is a hybrid of Gothic and decorative Baroque.

Restoring it requires extremely careful work by highly skilled artisans who will use special techniques and equipment to avoid damaging the original materials or historic integrity of the structure.

“One of the most exciting parts of this restoration is the fact that we will be working with the expertise and know-how of craftsmen: stonemasons, carpenters, ironworkers and master glassmakers,” says Lalieux. “It is therefore a work of fine craftsmanship that will be carried out over the next few years.”

As part of the renovation, the fencing will be relocated closer to the church, where it was originally. The small gardens will then be redesigned to fit inside the fencing.

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times