Antwerp Our Lady Cathedral

Gilberte

Edegem, Belgium

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Our Lady Cathedral seen from the left riverbank.
Scheldt with pleasure boat Flandria

The Antwerp Cathedral

Building of the Cathedral began in 1352 and it is regarded as one of the finest gothic buildings in Europe. It was designed by Jean Appelmans and built by De Waghemakere. There is a statue commemorating the architect at the base of the southern spire.

For several centuries the cathedral was the tallest building in the Low Countries. Even today, the 123 metre spire is the tallest building in the city. In a gesture designed to reflect the growing optimism of Antwerp in its golden age, Emperor Charles V laid down the first stone of what was to be a considerable extension, planning to make it the largest building in the world. But the project was abandoned because of a fire in 1533, which destroyed the ceiling and the gothic furniture.

In 1566 and later in 1581, the inside of the cathedral was again badly damaged by the Calvinists during the so called “iconoclastic furies”. In the 18th century, the French threatened to demolish the building entirely but settled instead for plundering the interior and selling off whatever they could find of value.

Despite being ransacked over the years, many major art treasures have survived. The most important being the three paintings by Rubens: Descent from the Cross, Elevation of the Cross and the Resurrection Triptych. There are many other noteworthy objects inside such as altars, confessionals, statues and the pulpit. The main artifact that survives from the middle ages is the bronze tomb of Isabella of Bourbon. The Cathedral is also furnished with 34 enormous stained glass windows

Artwork Comments

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