You can see it from afar: the imposing tower of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, the highest church tower in the Benelux. 123 metres above the historic city centre. The cathedral is one of the most famous sights in Antwerp. In the 14th century, the first stone was laid for this Gothic cruciform church; it was not until two centuries later that the construction was completed. The church was built on the site of a Romanesque church. It was only during excavations in the 1980s that it became clear what form this predecessor had: a choir in the form of a cloverleaf and a three-aisled nave of approximately the same size as the present nave and aisles.
Unfortunately, little of the original interior has been preserved. During the iconoclasm of the 16th century, Calvinists destroyed stained glass windows, statues, relics, tombs and dozens of altars. Only a few of the frescoes and a fourteenth-century marble madonnas remain of the original furnishings. The church has been redesigned several times and that is what makes the cathedral so special: it incorporates elements from the Gothic, Baroque, Rococo, Renaissance and Neo-Gothic periods.
The cathedral houses four works by the world-famous painter Peter Paul Rubens: two triptychs ('The Descent from the Cross' from 1612 and 'The Raising of the Cross' from 1609-1610) and the paintings 'Assumption of the Virgin Mary' from 1626 and 'The Resurrection of Christ' from 1612. The stained-glass windows with religious images are very impressive, as are the altar decorations. At the main altar hangs the painting 'The death of Mary' by Abraham Matthyssens.
Website: Cathedral of Our Lady
Address: entrance can be found at the Handschoenmarkt
Hours: 10.00-17.00 (Saturday to 15.00, Sunday 13.00-16.00)
Please consult the website of the Cathedral of Our Lady for up-to-date opening hours.