The church of Saint James was built around 1200 and had only one nave but as it was in the Hanseatic quarter and close to the Duke of Burgundy’s palace it was enlarged in the 15th century with three naves of equal heights.
The transept crossing is the only remnant from the 13th century.The north side nave, the side chapels and the vaulted wood choir date from the 15th century. Baroque style left its important mark in the 17th and 18th centuries while there was a neo- gothic restoration in the 19th century.
The interior of the church is sumptuous and majestic. During the time of the Dukes of Burgundy the church received donations from nobles and wealthy merchants and thus has eighteen altars belonging to corporations and guilds.
However in 1580 the church was pillaged by wave of iconoclasts. Paintings by van der Weyden and by van der Groes were lost. It took two centuries to replace the Gothic adornment.
The furnishings and numerous works of art date from the 17th and 18th centuries among which are “the Adoration of the Magi” on the main altar, thirteen scenes depicting the life of Jesus and saint James and the state tomb of the treasurer of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
During the period of pilgrimages to Santiago of Compostella the church was a shelter and stopping place for the pilgrims.
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