Antwerpen

Antwerp is a rich city and we can see that.
There is a lot of luxury shops, the streets are clean (at least in the center, elsewhere, I haven't been to see elsewhere) and they take care of the architectural heritage.
The different eras rub shoulders in a rather harmonious way, which is far from being the case everywhere (an example ? Brussels !).
Second European port, world center of the diamond trade, seat of many companies, Antwerp knew how to negotiate the changes of society.

Coat of arms of Antwerp

The coat of arms of Antwerp : we see the hands cut off from the legend,
and a castle, the Steen.

Of recent origin compared to other Belgian cities, the city of Brabo will be one of the largest European cities in the 16th century.
Founded in the 10th century under the name of Aanwerp (we are far from the legend that Antwerpen comes from hand "hand" and werpen "to throw"), the city of the Scheldt estuary has passed from being a small village to military vocation to that of a powerful merchant city in the space of only three centuries.

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The Keyserlei in the wee hours. In the background, the central station, under restoration.

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The entrance to the Meir is guarded by two imposing eclectic style buildings. They should have disappeared in the 60's...

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The Meir is the shopping street of the city par excellence ; it joins the central station to the historic center.

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Notre Dame Cathedral from the Lange Nieuwstraat. The tram is omnipresent in the city.

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Surrounded by houses, the Saint-Jacques church and its unfinished tower. There is the tomb of Rubens.

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It is one of the starting points of the road to Santiago de Compostela.

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Built in late Gothic from 1506 to 1556. Rubens lived a few meters from this church.

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Saint Charles Borromeo. This tower has long remained in a state of ruin. It has just been renovated. The bell tower and its facade were designed by Rubens.

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Built in the style of the Italian churches of the time, from 1615 to 1621, by and for the Antwerp Jesuits.

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Attached to the church, the former Jesuit college, now housing the communal library.

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The largest baroque church in the Netherlands at the time of its erection, it will be damaged by a fire in 1718. If the building remains standing, 39 works of Rubens will be devoured by the flames.

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Place now at the cathedral. When we talk about it, we can only use superlatives...

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Largest church in Northern Europe (8000 m²), highest belfry in the Netherlands (123 meters), longer transept (76 meters, longer than a classical church), etc.

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Its construction spread over three centuries: from 1352 to 1521. It nevertheless retains a great harmony.

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The main tower : financed by the city, it should have been even higher. For lack of money, the project was revised downward. The result is still remarkable. Given its civilian funding, the tower is also considered a belfry.

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The other tower, which should have been the exact copy of the other, will stop at 67 meters. It is the parish that financed the construction.

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The facade was inspired by the Saint-Michel cathedral in Brussels : there is the same layout. This is the most recent part of the church.

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Monument in honor of the builders, at the foot of the small tower.

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Seven naves (and a forest of 125 pillars) can accommodate 25,000 people.

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At 43 meters from the ground, L'Assomption of Corneille Schut (17th century). This cupola was added to improve the lighting of the vast building made dark by the distance of the central vessel and the choir from the side bays.

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The two towers of Notre-Dame above the roofs of the city.

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At the foot of the small tower. The city has kept its primitive urban fabric, very dense. Churches nestling in the houses, narrow and winding streets.

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Over the Gloves Market, the pediment of the Town Hall is pointed out.

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The cathedral from the Grand'Place.

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The guild houses of Grand'Place. Although similar to those in Brussels, they are older.

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The Town Hall replaces an earlier building destroyed by fire and will be rebuilt in Renaissance style between 1561 and 1564.

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The Brabo fountain, in the center of the square. Recalling the legend the foundation of the city : Brabo cutting the hand of the giant Druon Antigoon and throwing it into the Scheldt.

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The entrance to the Grand'Place, close to the Scheldt.

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The banks of the Scheldt, the former economic heart of the city.

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The endless succession of the gables of the sheds.

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Suikerrui.

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To the north, where the river begins its turn to the left towards the North Sea.

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Upstream. The first bridge over the Scheldt is 10 kilometers from here.

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The center of Antwerp and the Hanseatic house (on the left), from Suikerrui.

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The left bank of the river has not yet been too urbanized. For how much longer ?

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Railway ruins on the quays, along the Jordaenskai.

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At the limit of the port and the city, the captaincy (at least, that's what I suppose).

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Cradle of the city, the castle of Steen. Controlling the traffic on the Scheldt, it had been assigned other functions over time, including that of prison.

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Dating from the 13th century, it has been greatly amputated in the 19th century following the widening of the river.

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Since 1952, it hosts the National Museum of the Navy.

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Near the Steen is the silhouette of a curious building.

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Is it a castle, a church ? No, here we have a... butchery ! Built between 1501 and 1504 to allow butchers to work in the best conditions of the time.

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Today, the Vleeshuis houses a museum.

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Near the Vleeshuis points the bell tower of St. Paul's Church.

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This former priory and its garden, in the heart of the sailors' quarter, were built by and for the Dominicans, near the Scheldt, in late Gothic style decorated in Baroque style.

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The Middle Ages is back !

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The last wooden house in the city, near Saint-Paul.

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The central station. The main building, being restored, hasn't been photographed.

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The station, along the Pelikaanstraat.

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The station was judged by the US magazine Newsweek fourth most beautiful station in the world after St. Pancras of London, the Grand Central Terminal in New York and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Bombay Terminus.

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Built between 1895 and 1905, it is the terminus of many lines from Brussels, Charleroi, Amsterdam, Lille, etc.

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See you next time !

20

February 2008

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