World heritage site
This Gothic church was conferred the papal title of basilica in 1931. The current building has an intriguing history, with several construction phases spanning all of three centuries. Visit the Teseum museum site and wander among the foundations and archaeological finds. The Teseum also houses a collection of art treasures of an incomparable grandeur.
The belfry (the tower) is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In turbulent times, it served as a watchtower. If a fire broke out, you could hear the bells reverberating through the streets of Tongeren. The tower has been open to visitors since September 2023. A brisk climb past the attics and the carillon is rewarded with spectacular views.
Interior and organ
The basilica's nave with its three aisles and its side chapels are truly a feast for the eyes. Be sure to take in the vaulted ceilings, centuries-old paintings, colourful stained-glass windows and the churchs numerous sculptures. There are also some lovely, detailed carvings to admire on the medieval altar. The basilicas main organ was designed by the famous organ builder Le Picard. This world-famous organ from 1752 has been restored completely.
The Virgin Mary and the Coronation Celebrations
A 15th-century statue of the Virgin Mary made of walnut adorns the front of the altar. People have been flocking here from far and wide to venerate the Holy Virgin for centuries. In 1889, permission granted by the Pope to crown this statue marked the start of the Coronation Celebrations. Ever since then, the Virgin Mary has been the centre of attention in Tongeren for an entire week in summer, once every seven years. The procession held during these celebrations is the largest in Belgium. Recent editions drew as many as half a million visitors to the city.