Tag: history

Our historical churches

Although a number of historical churches have vanished (e.g. the Walburgischurch in the very center of the old town, and the church belonging to the St-Michael’s cloister in the environment of the Kloosterstraat), we still have 5 churches with a rich historical background.

The most important of these of course is the Cathedral, Our Lady’s Church, situated between the Town Hall and the Groenplaats, which by the way used to be a cemetery belonging to the church. This gothic masterpiece is especially known for its 4 Rubens paintings. While restauration works are on their way in the Fine Arts Museum, part of the collection, which originally belonged to the cathedral, are on display again. So the cathedral is an interesting museum of its own.

The youngest of the historical churches is the Jesuits’ church: St-Carl-Borromeus. Its façade is a fine example of baroque art, but only inside will you be able to feel the effect of baroque completely, especially when you enter the Houtappel chapel (to your right facing the main altar). Also this church is closely connected with Rubens as there are clear signs that Rubens had a hand in the design of both the façade and the tower. Originally the aisles left and right had their ceilings painted by Rubens, but a fire in 1718 destroyed all of these paintings. Rubens also painted two large canvases for the main altar, but the originals are now on display in Vienna. The really unique thing about this church is that the painting adorning the main altar can be switched. The original device to perform this feat is still active and is being used four times a year.

Another church linked with Rubens is St-James’s, located near St-Jacobsmarkt, entrance via the southern aisle in Lange Nieuwstraat. Here the master is buried beneath a painting of his own choice. This church boasts a very impressive main altar in baroque style and an organ on which the young Mozart one gave a concert as he passed Antwerp in the company of his father and his sister.

At the Veemarkt (Cattle Market) you can find the entrance to St-Paul’s, which used to be the church of the dominicans as you can clearly see from the engravings above the entrance. In the church you will find paintings of all the great masters (Rubens, Van Dijck, Jordaens, …) but equally impressive is the calvary you will find in a courtyard belonging to the church.

Last but not least there’s St-Andrew’s (entrance Waaistraat) which boasts what is probably the most fascinating pulpit in the world.

Visit an acient printers’ shop

The Plantin-Moretus museum

One of the key figures in the history of Antwerp is Christophe Plantin. He was a French bookbinder who decided to come to the booming town of his day, Antwerp, and try his luck there around 1548. There’s a story that tells that one night, while he was delivering books to a client, he was attacked, robbed and stabbed in the shoulder. The injury made that he couldn’t practice his job as a bookbinder anymore, so he chose a new profession and became a printer.

Print shop (Kunst en Erfgoed)

He could have made a worse decision. His printshop was a huge success, he set up printshops in Paris and Leiden, and became friends with the important people of his days like e.g. Rubens. After his death the shop was taken over by his son in law Johan Moerentorf, who, as was custom in those days had changed his name into Moretus. The Moretus family kept on printing for almost three centuries, but eventually new technologies took over and the family left the building and all its contents to the city on condition that it be turned into a museum.

The museum not only gives one a unique insight into the history of printing, but it is also a lively showcase of how people used to live in the sixteenth century. Some of the printing presses are still in working order, and if you book it in advance, the visit to the museum can be completed with a real printing workshop in which you will print your own document on a replica of the ancient presses.

The inner garden of the Plantin-Moretus museum

Recently the exposition has been completely renewed, and should you pass the museum, which is situated at Vrijdagmarkt, but run out of time and be unable to visit it, feel free to take a look at the inner garden.

Practical information:

Museum Plantijn-Moretus

Vrijdagmarkt 22-23, 2000 Antwerpen

Phone: 03 221 14 50

Visit the museumwebsite

Opening times: Tue-Sun, 10:00-17:00

Tickets: 8 € (6€ for 12-25 year olds, free for under 12)

To make your visit to this website as smooth as possible we use cookies. The cookies are used for statistical reasons and do not store any personal data. If you do not wish to use cookies. You can indicate this by clicking on the No button.