Carolus Borromeus Church
Very close to the Cathedral of Our Lady lies another historic landmark of the city. Carolus Borromeus Church was built after the invasion of the Spanish army in 1584 as the flagship church of the Counter-Reformation. It was originally known as St. Ignatius church, named after the founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola.
The building itself was constructed by a Jesuit who based its design on the Jesuits’ main church in Rome, the Chiesa del Gesù. Peter Paul Rubens contributed to the formation of the facade, the tower, and much of the interior which was designed to look like a Baroque banqueting hall, providing a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
The opulent decoration gave the church the nickname “the marble temple.”On July 18, 1718, lightning struck and 39 ceiling paintings by Rubens were tragically lost in the subsequent fire. Most of the original marble was also destroyed. However, the apse of the main altar and the Mary Chapel was spared and they provide visitors with an idea of the church’s former splendor.
One of the church’s most unique features is the interchangeable painting above the altar, which uses an original mechanism that is still in working order. The baroque masterpiece was sold by the Jesuits in 1733 and was later closed until it re-opened in 1803 as a parish church dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo. The intricate wood carvings, the monumental pulpit, the amazing paintings, and its sumptuous Baroque architecture form an rare ensemble that is worth a visit.