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Showing posts with the label Antwerp

The town hall of Antwerp

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In the 16th century the population of the city of Antwerp increased fast, as did the amount of work by the mayor and the aldermen. This created the need to replace the former city hall with a new one. Around 1540 the architect Dominicus de Waghemakere was therefore commissioned to draw a design for a new town hall. However, another pricey project, a new city wall was given priority, which meant that the plan for a new city hall was postponed. In 1560 a new design came about, involving architect Cornelis Floris De Vriendt, sculptor Willem van de Broeck, poet Willem van Haecht and the painters Jan Metsys and Lambert van Noort. The intention was to design a town hall in the then new Renaissance style.


To reduce construction costs, the ground floor of the building would consist of retail premises. With the rental of this, it was hoped that part of the costs could be recovered later. The building itself would be placed on the Grote Markt. This square was communal property, and therefore w…

The unfortunate story of the Antwerp Rubens statue

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The city of Antwerp wanted to commemorate the 200th anniversary of its most famous painter Rubens' death in 1640 with a statue. However, there were problems. The public money collection had not yielded enough, so there was no money for a bronze statue. That is why they opted for a plaster cast of what was to become the real statue later. However, when leaving the studio of sculptor Guillaume Willem Geefs, the statue fell off the cart and it got damaged pretty badly.
Fortunately there was a second plaster copy ready to be placed. It is important to know that the statue was not placed on the Groenplaats in the first place. It was given a place from which it could look out over the Scheldt river: the Sint-Wilburgis square, which was situated in the immediate vicinity of the Het Steen castle. This square is disappeared when the river was straightened.
The bronze statue was finally finished in 1843. And it was placed on the Groenplaats, just where until 1739 a cemetery's crucifix …

The Chocolate Nation museum in Antwerp

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When you say Belgium, among other things, like beer and historical buildings, you immediately think of chocolate. Belgian chocolate is indeed world famous. The story between this small European country and the sweet glory has been around for many generations. Today Antwerp has its own prestigious chocolate museum, the chocolate nation.

In fourteen themed rooms the museum takes you on a trip into the history of Belgian chocolate. The journey starts in the cocoa plantations on the equator and follows the cocoa bean to the largest cocoa storage port in the world in Antwerp. A giant fantasy machine shows how Belgian chocolate is made and how the velvety taste is created.
On your journey you will pass the chocolate traditions, brands, products and innovations that made the worldwide reputation of making high quality products. And on the way you can taste to your heart's desire, that goes without saying ...


The museum is situated across the Central Station, in the heart of the city and…

The Prince Leopold institute of Tropical Medicine

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The ITG (ITM) was founded in Brussels in 1906 as a research center and school for tropical medicine. In 1933 the institute moved under the impulse of the later king Leopold III from Brussels to the center of Antwerp. The main reason was that it would be closer to the port of Antwerp, the at that time most important gateway to Africa. The new institute was named after the later king Leopold III: 'The Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine'.

The building was designed by the architects 'Marcel Spittael' and 'Paul Le Bon' in a sober Art Deco style. In the font garden there are some remarkable pieces of art and there is a unique water feature built into the facade next to the entrance.


Today the clasefield building is still used as an Institute of Tropical Medicine and it has world famous reputation doing so. It is also the number one STD and malaria treatment center in Belgium.

You can find it at this address: Kronenburgstraat 43, Antwerp.

The Lancaster war monument in Ekeren

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During the night of 15 June 1943 the Lancaster ED810 of the 50 Sqn was shot down by a German night fighter. This bomber had left at Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire to bomb the German town of Oberhausen. The plane was shot down by the German night fighter Rudolf Frank while it was returning from its mission. The plane came down into the fields of the Laar district in the town of Ekeren, in the north of Antwerp.
The entire crew lost their lives during the plane crash, they were: Albert Victor Crawford (pilot,) Arthur Ernest Davey (navigator,) Joseph Brown McHendry (wireless) William George Reed (bomb aimer) Leslie Toal (flight engineer) Charles Joseph Buckle (mid upper gunner) and Kenneth Ivor Bowerman (rear gunner.) All crew members were later buried at the monumental Schoonselhof cemetery in Antwerp. To remember the event, a monument was built.
The monument is a work of art by artist Stef Van Eyck, it is named AVRO LANCASTER WING and represents a destroyed wing of the plane, with seven …

Castle the golden gate Ekeren

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'Hof van Merten's or castle 'The golden gate' was built by 'Clement Mertens' in 1884, according to plans by architect Blomme. It is a brick building with a slate roof in neo-Flemish renaissance style.
The building was bought by the municipality of Ekeren in 1920 and served as a town hall from 1920 to 1930. In the portal of the eclectic mansion you can find one of the four local war monuments remembering the First World War.
Later the castle became a peace court that was functional until 1970. In 1972 the building was used as a local police station. At the moment the castle is abandon and for sale. The UNESCO protected building is waiting for a new owner and destination.
You can find the castle at this address: Veltwijcklaan 1, Ekeren, Antwerp.

The memorial monument for the fallen in Ekeren

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The memorial sculpture for the fallen of the First World War in Ekeren, a town in the north of Antwerp was founded in 1930 on the initiative of the municipal authorities, they chose the sculptor Baggen for the design.

Alfons Lambert (Albert) Baggen (1862-1937) was a Dutch sculptor living in Antwerp. The monument in Ekeren is representative of his oeuvre, which for a large part consists of war memorials. It is also representative of the last period of his career in which he evolved into a simplified and less classical style, inspired by art deco. The copper sculpture group was made by the Brussels foundry 'Lesetre et Cie', which realized oher memorials during the interbellum period. The copper lanterns may also have been realized by this firm.
You can find the monument at this address:  Veltwijcklaan, Ekeren, Antwerp.

The Schoonselhof Castle in Antwerp

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The Schoonselhof castle is named after Jan van Wilrike, a 14th century officer of 'Sconcele'. Originally the castle was a 'house of plaisance', an outdoor residence of wealthy merchants in the 16th century. In its existence the castle had a lot of modifications. In 1911, the city of Antwerp brought the castle and its domain to use it as a park cemetery outside of the city center. In 1914 the first body was buried at the Schoonselhof cemetery, he was a German soldier who died during the first World War. Later other graves from cemeteries in the neighborhood were moved to the schoonselhof cemetery.
Today the castle is a bit in decay and the used by the gardeners of the cemetery to store their goods. However there are some plans to restore the castle to its former glory and make it a public place again. The cemetery and the gardens surrounding it are open the the public.
You can find the castle at this address: Schoonselhof, Antwerp.

The grave of the lost fugitives in Antwerp

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In the center of Antwerp, in the garden of the St-Paulus Church you can find this remarkable grave. It's a bit hidden in the corner of the churches backyard and is hardly visited by any tourists.
A sign on the grave says that the grave is dedicated to all the fugitives that came to the city, known and unknown, some of them made it, most of them died trying to get there. Even today.

The artwork depicts a figure trying to get out of a grave, a place where he got in unexpectedly after trying to start a new life.
You can find the grave at this address: Sint-Paulusstraat 22, Antwerp.

The Sint-Jacobus Church of Kapellen

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The Sint-Jacobus Church is one of the oldest buildings of the town of Kapellen in the Belgian province of Antwerp. In the 12th century there was already a chapel dedicated to St. Jacob on the same location. In history the church was situated on the road to Santiago of Compostela, a famous pilgrim destination.

In the course of time, the church was destroyed and restored many times. It also has been enlarged several times. Today the church has a rich historical patrimony.
The choir dates from the 14th century, the late gothic choir and the crossbeam are from the 15th and 16th centuries. Known horticulturists from the heyday of Antwerp, including father and son Kerrickx, delivered beautiful works of art in baroque style such as the pulpit and the throne dedicated to Our Lady.

In 1849 two side aisles were built and in 1890 a new extension followed with a new church tower. You can find the The Sint-Jacobus Church at this address: Kerkstraat 2, Kapellen, Antwerp.

The St-Catharina Church in Stabroek

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The current church dates from the middle of the 14th century, it was between enlarged in 1483 and 1484 with transepts and a ship shaped roof. Unfortunately the church burned down in 1586. Within the remaining walls of the high choir, an emergency church was built in 1595.

A big restoration and modification was done between 1613 and 1614. In 1614 a new sacristy and a renewal of the high choir was added. Also a side tower, The  ship roof and tower were preserved in their original state.
Shortly after 1622, during the battle between the Spaniards and the Dutch, the church was turned into a fort, canals and ramparts were built around the church and cemetery. The choir and the west side of the church were largely destroyed in this battle. In 1643 the dilapidated church burned down again, this time almost completely, only the tower remained unharmed.

The fortifications around the church were only partly demolished in 1655. The church, including the tower, were fully restored in 1668.
From 1…

Castle Middelheim and its museum

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The oldest mention of a place called Middelheim in Antwerp dates back to 1342. From the sixteenth century, many Antwerp families had their summer residence there. The small castle was converted in a Louis XVI style building in the 18th century, probably to plans made by Parisian architect 'H. Guimard' and has since then not undergone any significant changes.

In 1910, the city council of Antwerp bought the entire domain and opened it as a public park. Later parts of the site were made available for the establishment of the Middelheim Hospital, the University of Antwerp and the Pastoral and a Theological Center. In 1950 an international exhibition was held in the Middelheim Park of 20 ha. On Mayor 'Lode Craeybeckx's' proposal, the city council decided to set up a permanent open-air museum for sculptures.
Now the castle park has an extensive collection of sculptures with a beautiful overview of modern sculpture. It houses sculptors like Jean Arp, Emile-Antoine Bourde…

Castle Sterckshof

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Already in the 13th century there was the farm called 'Hooftvunder', on site of the present castle, i was a fortified farm surrounded by a canal. This farm was later changed into a fortified estate that had many owners. In 1524 'Gerard Sterck', merchant, banker and secret counselor from Emperor Karel V bought the estate and he converted the farm to a Renaissance-style castle, from then on to the castle was called 'Sterckshof'.

Unlike other castles in Antwerp, the Sterckshof castle was not destroyed during the wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, but it got neglected after a battle between heirs in the 17th century. In 1693 the Sterckshof castle was owned by the Christian order the 'Jesuits of Lier', but again it was sold in 1778 to banker 'Jan Baptist Cogels', which merged the castle grounds with the neighbouring 'Ter Rivieren estate'.

In 1921, the Provincial Government of Antwerp purchased the 'Ter Rivieren estate' with on it t…

Castle Den Brandt

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The name 'Den Brandt' is used for the first time in 1396 as a name for the piece of land were the castle was later built on. Presumably, the name indicates a burned place, a former mining method, where pieces of hay and forest were burned and then transformed into agricultural land.

In the history of the domain there is first talk of a farm, later from a 'Speelhuys' (Playhouse) and around 1582 finally of a the name 'The Court of Brande'.
The present castle was built in 1790 in a Louis XVI style. The first owner was 'C.A. della Faille'. In 1910 the 'Kreglinger' family became owner of the  castle together with a 16 ha park surrounding it.  Another 48 ha part of the park was sold to the city of Antwerp to create a new park open to the public. On 18 December 1962 the city of Antwerp also became the official owner of the Kreglinger domain and the castle.

Today, the castle is used for all sorts of activities, such as seminars, shows, concerts, balls,…

The St. Bartholomeus Church in Merksem

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The church dates back to the 15th century. In the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, the building is significantly enlarged and modified numerous of times . After the almost total destruction during the 2nd WO, the church is rebuilt between 1947 and 1950 to the pre-war plan by architect H. Huygh.


Inside the church there is a wealth of baroque furniture: the portico altar made by 'Paschier' in 1645, the side altars made by 'W. Kerrickx' and 'W. Pompe' made in the early 18th century, the 17th-century paneling and the confession and communion benches are made by Cornelis Struyf  in 1734.

From the pulpit of Jan Pieter Van Baurscheit dating from 1725 only the original medallions were saved. In the 20th century, the church was enriched with glass frames of by 'A. Stalins' in 1914 and 'J. Huet' in 1939.
You can find the church at this address: At the corner of the Bredabaan and the Bartholomeusstraat, Merksem, Antwerp.

The St Nicholas square in Antwerp

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The St. Nicholas square is located at the place where the former Falconinnen sisters established a God house in 1422. The God house was used by the craftsmen of the Meerseniers guild, that were the shoemakers, tailors, tinsmiths and grocers of the city. Their main activity was to care for the needy, elderly or sick members of the guild together with the sisters. Till 1842 there were still members of the guild living in the houses round the little square.

The chapel of the God house was built  in 1423 and dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of the Meerseniers. In the middle of the square there is a statue of him. The Chapel closed in 1876 and was first used as a carpet storage and later as a Puppet theater. The entire complex was thoroughly renovated and restored by architect F. Van Averbeke between 1958 and 1968. Today the Saint Nicholas Square is mainly used by small local theater makers who have their theaters there.

You can find the St. Nicholas Square at this address: S…

The Paulus church in Antwerp

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This former monastery church of the dominicans dates back to 1571. The building is a feast for the eye. The beautiful baroque altars, the sublime furniture, the main organ, the more than 200 statues.

There are more than 50 paintings, including a suite of 15 works of Jordaens, Rubens, Teniers, Van Balen, Van Dyck. They give the church its unique appearance. Their beautiful paintings are still in their original place. It is a lush but mysterious church, which was severely damaged by a fire in 1968.

The church also has a treasure room, which holds and guards the most precious artifacts and gifts the church owns. Most of them are from silver and gold, but you also can come across some unique documents. 

The calvarial garden next door looks like an image fragment of an epic film about Christ's suffering and resurrection. It is an experience you will have never encountered before, scary at some point.

The church is open to the public and can be visited every afternoon, you can find it …

Castle de Renesse in Oostmalle

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The castle of the Dukes 'de Renesse' is a landscape eye-catcher in the heart of Oostmalle, a small town in the province of Antwerp. The castle was rebuilt in a Flemish neo-Renaissance style after it had a turbulent history with a lot of destructions en looting In 1542 the construction of this castle was built on the ruins of a medieval castle. Since then it was rebuilt and modified many times. The 60 hectare park and the pond were built in 1830. In 1983, the town of Oostmalle became the owner of the castle and some of the grounds surrounding it. A foundation is running the castles daily affairs in behalf of the town.

Currently the buildings are used for cultural purposes. The interior conserves different colorful rooms in neo and empire styles. The former coach house is now a cafe and restaurant. On the parking lot of the castle area you can choose between two marked hiking trails: the 'Wolfkapelpad' (5 km) and the 'Renesse-Salphenpad' (11 km).

In the domaine …

The Beguinage of Antwerp

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An oasis in the city, with some imagination, you go back to the 16th century, walking on the cobbled streets, enjoying the garden, the pond and the orchard. Welcome the Beguinage of Antwerp.

Begins were devoted Catholic women who lived in a community and dedicated their lives to God. The first beguinage in Antwerp was founded in 1240, it was called 'The Garden of Zion'. It lay south of the city, far outside the city walls.

After the destruction of the 'The Garden of Zion', the Begins acquired some grounds within the city center where they rebuilt the courant beguinage in 1545. First, the houses were raised around the garden square, later an increasing number of begins added an alley.

The original church of the Beguinage was destroyed in 1799 and replacing with the present small Saint Catharina church in 1827. It is still used today.

Despite a difficult period under both the French and Dutch occupation at the end of the 18th and early 19th century,  the devoted women …

The graphic artworks museum in Antwerp

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Antwerp has a long history when it comes to graphic art, it's going back for centuries. There is also a tradition of printmaking in Antwerp. Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his offspring are evidence of this, but also the printers Christoffel Platijn and Jan Moretus. Illustrative art gave the possibility of bringing a message across through art.
Since June 2017 you can visit 'Museum De Reede' a museum about graphic artworks. 'Museum De Reede' is comprised in particular of works by three masters of graphic art: Francisco Goya, Félicien Rops and Edvard Munch. The collection is made up of works on paper: lithographs, engravings, etchings, woodprints and drawings by more than a dozen artists from seven countries, three continents and covering five centuries from the 17th to the 21st.

The core of the collection is around 150 works by three of the greatest engravers of all time; three artists who each have mankind as their subject. Francisco Goya and Félicien Rops concentr…