Saint Peter's Church is the oldest church in Leuven. It was
presumably founded in 986. The first church burnt down in
1176. A new Romanesque church was built with a crypt, an
extension, at the back of the choir. The Westwork was flanked
by two towers as can be seen in the old town seal.
The construction of the present Gothic building, much larger
than the Romanesque church, started in 1425. Work began
at the choir, under the supervision of architect Sulpicius van Vorst. Several architects succeeded him. Jan Keldermans
Matthew de Layens played an important part in this respect.
The church was practically completed in 1497. Of the three towers that were planned, one of which was to have reached
a height of 170 meters, only the bases remain. In 1541 when
the height of 50 meters was reached, work was stopped. The
subsoil was not stable enough to support a higher tower. After
some collapses, the tower was lowered to its present level.
The successive architects did not change the original plans
and this brought about a fine example of pure Brabantine Late
The outside of the church, our attention is fixed on the choir
with seven radiating chapels. Between two of these chapels
the chapel of "Fiere Margriet" (Proud Margaret), a local popular
saint, was built in 1546.
The church was severely damaged in both World Wars. In
1914 the roof and nave burnt down and in 1944 the north aisle
suffered bomb damage.
The Treasury of Saint Peter is housed in the church. Two masterpieces
(15 C.) of the Flemish Primitive Dirk Bouts, i.e. The Last
Supper and The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus are on display.
The chancel and presbytery of the Saint Peter's Church
house the treasury. Here you will not only find a number
of rare religious objects in precious metals. In the radiating
chapels there are also many paintings and sculptures,
like the less well known masterpieces of Jodocus van der Baren, Jan van Rillaer and Pieter-Jozef Verhaghen. They had been ordered by the guilds and fraternities between the 15th and the 18th century when they took over the care of the chapels. Three works of the so-called Flemish primitives are the real pearls of the crown. The Nobleman triptych is the most contemporary and hence the oldest copy of the Descent from the Cross which Rogier van der Weyden made for a Leuven chapel. The most famous panel is undoubtedly
The Last Supper by Dirk Bouts. In 1464 this Leuven town painter
was commissioned by the Brotherhood of the Holy Sacrament
to paint a triptych for their chapel in the Saint Peterºs Church
representing the ordinance of the Eucharist. Bouts made this
his absolute masterwork. The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus
located in the adjoining chapel was also made by Dirk Bouts
at the request of the Brotherhood.
The sacrament tower opposite the chapel with The Last Supper
constitutes a unit with the storage space for the hosts.
Finally, there are two striking tombs: the tomb of Henry I of
Brabant in the presbytery and the double tomb of Matilda of
Flanders, his wife, and Maria of Brabant, their daughter.
Opening hours Saint Peter's Church
Tue. To Fr.: 10 a.m.-5 p.m, Sat.: 10.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m
Sun. And public holidays: 2 p.m.-5 p.m.
Mon: 10 a.m. -5 p.m.(only 15/3-15/10).
Admission: Treasury of Saint Peter:
c 2.50 for individuals
> 1.25 for groups (10 or more), for young people between
the ages of 12 and 18, students and senior citizens.
Children under twelve: free.
Admission with audioguide: c 4,00 / c 3,00 (reduction)
Audioguide seperately: c 1,50
Info: www.leuven.be/museumsite, firstname.lastname@example.org