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In Dutch, this church is known under the name "Sint Jacobskerk". It is the tomb of the Prince of Painting, Peter Paul Rubens, that attracts most visitors to this church. But there is much more besides, for St. James’ Church is sumptuously decorated. The parish could certainly afford such opulence when the church was built (1491-1656) and the area inhabited by the upper middle classes, merchants and members of the aristocrary.
They wanted to display their wealth by building a tower which was higher than that of the Cathedral. Hence the imposing base. However, that demonstration of rivalry ceased after 55 metres for financial reasons.
The parishioners lavished their wealth with more success on the inside of the church. Here more than one hundred sorts of marble are be found, which according to the eighteenth-century prefect from the Vatican, Cardinal Garampi, ‘could scarcely have been worked more skillfully’. The walls are hung with works by all the great artists of the city.

The Church has twenty-three altars. Rubens’ tomb lies behind the main altar in the Chapel of Our Lady. The painting ‘Our Lady surrounded by saints’ was painted by him for his burial monument. Experts have pointed out that it is actually a family portrait with Rubens as St. George.

Painting showing the inside of the Rubens tomb in 1855Inside Rubens tomb

This painting  can be seen in the chapel where the tomb of the Rubens Family is. It dates from 1855 and shows the interior of the Rubens Family tomb. One can clearly see an open coffin with a skeleton. P.P. Rubens himself ?

Location
Lange Nieuwstraat 73
Admission
2 € (Euro) per person. Children and seniors : 1,5 € (Euro)
Opening hours
April 1st to October 31st : 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. November 1st to March 31st : 9 AM - 12 AM.
Closed on Sundays, on religious holidays and during services.

 

 

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