When you walk by the Antwerp Cathedral you don’t realize right away the magnificence of the architectural beauty of this building.
Many are the reasons why you should visit this Cathedral but the most important are because this Cathderal became the guardian of most of the work of the Baroque painter Sir Pieter Paul Rubens, surely until the Royal Museum of Fine Arts will be open again (God only knows when that’s going to be). Also because the northern tower is the highest in the Benelux.
If you are a resident in Antwerp you can access this place for free anytime you want. Just show your Belgian ID at the entrance. Otherwise the regular fee of 6€ can be paied at the entrance.
Every Saturday at 5PM you can also attend the Mass in english and from mid July until the end of August you can have guided tours in English, Spanish, German and French, you’ll have to check its availability with the church’s office. Don’t forget to listen to the bell’s concert in the evenings during summertime, it’s breathtaking. Also check every once in a while the Cathedral website to see whether it’s possible to visit the top of the northern tower. They allow that when there are no restoration work and the view from the top is suppose even better that the one from the roof-terrace of the MAS.
The construction of this Gothic Cathedral, whose architects were Jan and Pieter Appelmans, started in 1352 and almost ended in 1521. It was supposed to have 2 identical towers at the front, instead a part of the new church of Our Lady was largely devasted by the fire so the contruction of the second tower was delayed and then never executed. The north tower, with its 123 meters high, points towards God like a finger and has shaped Antwerp’s skyline for the last five centuries.
While walking in this beautiful place you cannot help but notice other masterpieces of Otto van Veen, Jacob de Backer and Marten de Vos. The most notable pieces of Rubens are: The Raising of the Cross, Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Mary being the Patroness of this Cathedral for over a thousand years) and The Descent from the Cross. Also pay attention to the sculpture of Jan Fabre, a Belgian artist, called The man who bears the cross.