The town of Nivelles was established with the founding of an abbey in 650. It is presently a commune with 24,000 residents, 25 kilometers due south of Brussels along the E19 roadway.
St. Gertrude's Cathedral, Nivelles' most famous tourist attraction, is dedicated to one of the abbey's founders. In the centuries since it was consecrated in 1046, it has suffered fire damage no fewer than 19 times, most recently during World War II, when 500 local homes were also torched. As a consequence of all the rebuilding, the church has a bit of an eclectic feel.
Monstreux, Bornival, Baulers, and Thines are boroughs within the municipal district of Nivelles.