In 1834, shortly after Belgium's independence in 1830, a new bishop was installed in Bruges and the Sint-Salvator church obtained the status of cathedral. However, the building didn't really look like a cathedral. It was a lot smaller and less imposing than the nearby Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk and had to be adapted to its new role. For instance, a higher and more impressive tower was needed.
The oldest surviving part, dating from the end of the 12th century, formed the base of the mighty tower. In 1839 a fire destroyed the roof of the cathedral. William Chantrell, an English architect, famous for his neo-Gothic restorations of English churches, was asked to restore to Sint-Salvator its former glory. At the same time he was authorized to make a project for a higher tower, in order to make it taller than that of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk.
Instead of adding a Neo-Gothic tower extension, Chantrell chose a very personal Romanesque design. After completion there was a lot of criticism and the royal commission for monuments, without authorization by Chantrell, had placed a small peak on top of the tower because the original design was deemed too flat.
What to See
The Sint-Salvator Cathedral currently houses many works of art that were originally stored in its destroyed predecessor, the Sint-Donatius Cathedral. The wall-carpets that can be seen when entering the church were manufactured in Brussels by Jasper van der Borcht in 1731. These were commissioned by bishop Hendrik van Susteren for Sint-Donatius. In the choir the original 16th century podium can still be admired.