Saint Peter’s Church

High Gothic Highpoint

Saint Peter’s Church

A rich history

Saint Peter’s stands in the very centre of Leuven. It was built as a Romanesque church in 986, and it is therefore the oldest church in the city. In 1176, the building was ravaged by fire (probably for the first time), and two centuries later, part of the church again burned to the ground. In the 15th century, the Romanesque building was gradually taken down to make way for the Gothic church you see today. This process took more than a century. 

Unfortunately, however, this did not mark the end of the church’s troubles. In the 16th century, there were three towers on the west façade, but due to the instability of the subsoil, they kept collapsing. As a result, the designs were changed, and the towers were never completed. An earthquake in 1750 again caused further destruction, but the worst was yet to come: Saint Peter’s Church was most severely damaged during the two world wars. The roof was burned in 1914, and large parts of the building were bombed in 1944. Many valuable artworks were irrevocably lost.

Over the last century, Saint Peter’s Church has undergone several extensive renovations, returning it to its full glory. That is why Saint Peter’s Church is now generally recognized as one of the finest examples of 15th-century Brabantine High Gothic architecture, and it is an unmissable tourist attraction in the city of Leuven.

The M-Treasury of Saint Peter’s

In 1980, the impressive choir and ambulatory of the church were transformed into a museum and dubbed ‘the M-Treasury of Saint Peter’s. The M-Treasury is part of M and features a number of stunning examples of religious metalwork, including reliquary statues, monstrances, chalices, and devotional paintings. What’s more, the majority have a close historical connection with Saint Peter’s Church itself. You will find works by illustrious Flemish Primitives like Rogier Van der Weyden and Dirk Bouts.