Nijvel  (Dutch)


Coat of arms

Location in Belgium

Coordinates: 50°35′N 04°19′E / 50.583°N 4.317°E / 50.583; 4.317Coordinates: 50°35′N 04°19′E / 50.583°N 4.317°E / 50.583; 4.317
Country Belgium
Community French Community
Region Wallonia
Province Walloon Brabant
Arrondissement Nivelles
  Mayor Pierre Huart (MR-UNi)
  Governing party/ies MR-UNi, CDH
  Total 60.60 km2 (23.40 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2016)[1]
  Total 28,027
  Density 460/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Postal codes 1400, 1401, 1402, 1404
Area codes 067

Nivelles (French pronunciation: [nivɛl]; Dutch: Nijvel, pronounced [ˈnɛivəl]) is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant. The Nivelles municipality includes the old communes of Baulers, Bornival, Thines, and Monstreux.

The Nivelles district includes all the municipalities in Walloon Brabant.

The Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude has been classified as a heritage site of Wallonia.


The rise of Nivelles

Starting in 4000 BC, the Nivelles region was gradually turned into agricultural land by the Danubian settlers. Most of their ancestral Rubanean civilization was destroyed by the Roman invaders during the first century AD. In turn, most of the Roman constructions, including villas, were destroyed during the Germanic invasions of the 3rd century.

In the 7th century, the territory was part of the Austrasian Frankish kingdom, and the Mayor of the Palace, Pippin of Landen, rebuilt a villa there that covered more than 78 km². After Pippin's death in 640, the bishop of Maastricht, the future Saint Amand, urged Pippin's widow, Itta, to found an abbey in their villa. Itta's daughter, Gertrude, became the monastery's first abbess and was venerated as a saint upon her death. The growing influx of pilgrims necessitated the construction of ever-bigger churches, which culminated in the huge Romanesque structure that still stands today. The dedication of the church took place in 1046 in the presence of Wazo, Prince-Bishop of Liège, and Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor. This was the golden age of the Nivelles monastery, which now owned territories as far as Friesland, the Moselle and the Rhine.

The collegiate church of Saint Gertrude

13th century to 1830

In the 13th century, the city that grew around the church became part of the Duchy of Brabant. The population was mainly artisans and guild members, who did not hesitate to fight the abbesses and the dukes to obtain their rights. These rights were finally granted by Joanna, Duchess of Brabant in the 14th century. In 1647, an important uprising by the thread manufacturers resulted in many of the city's entrepreneurs leaving for France, leading to the city's economic decline. The wars of the 17th century between France and the Spanish Netherlands made the situation worse as Nivelles went through successive sieges and military occupations. The Austrian and French regimes of the 18th century brought religious and administrative reforms to the city.

1830 to the present day

In 1830, Nivelles was one of the first cities to send patriotic troops to Brussels to fight in the Belgian Revolution. The following years were marked by the growth of heavy industry, including metallurgy and railway construction. Bombing of the city during World War I brought some damage to buildings, but greater devastation occurred during World War II on May 14, 1940, when almost the entire city centre was destroyed, leaving only the walls of the collegiate church standing. The rebuilding of the church was completed in 1984, but remains can be seen of wall fragments on the south side of the collegiate.

Main sights

Nave of Saint Gertrude
Jean de Nivelles



In 1972 and 1974, the Belgian Grand Prix was hosted at the Nivelles-Baulers circuit. Emerson Fittipaldi won the race both times. The circuit ultimately proved unpopular and has since been demolished.

In September 2007, Nivelles jointly hosted the VII European Handball Championship of Ballpelote, International fronton and International game with Buizingen.

Famous inhabitants

Twin city


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