At the top of the Mount of Arts, near the observation deck, is the Jesuit Church of St. James. It was built in 1776 in the neoclassical style and looks more like a Palace than a Church.
The Church is located on the large Royal square. After the revolution of 1830, Catholic Belgium’s provinces was able to gain independence from Protestant Holland, and in 1831 a monarchy was proclaimed in Belgium. The first king of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty was Leopold I. On July 12, 1831, he took the oath of allegiance to the Constitution of Belgium on the steps of this Church of St. James.
The Church is located next to the Royal Palace. An ancient Gothic Church from the 12th century was located at this place next to the castle of the Duke of Brabant. However, in 1731, a fire occurred in the Palace. The building of the palace burned down completely, and the Church was significantly damaged.
The Royal Palace on the site of the former castle began to be built only in 1815, and the Church decided to restore much earlier. However, the style of the Gothic Church was not very suitable for the new design of the Royal square. In the 18th century, monumental buildings in the neoclassical style were built here. It was decided to build the Church in the same style.
In the 19th century, a huge fresco by Jean Portel appeared on the pediment of the Church above the colonnade. The interior of the Church is made in the Renaissance style. Since the Church of St. James is located next to the Royal Palace, it is considered the official temple of the Royal family.
In front of the Church of St. James on the square is erected a monument to the Brabant commander Gottfried of Bouillon. He was one of the leaders of the first Crusade, and after the conquest of Jerusalem, he was proclaimed ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.