Results 1-6of 6 Reviews
Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
December 17, 2012
Having fun in Belgium,
The great country of Belgium
April 22, 2004
The Stadhuis is on the east side of the square, and its main facade consists of three diverse units. This site has been the Stadhuis only since 1913, although the buildings have had other purposes previously. The Grand Council Building on the left is the grandiose facade, a Late Gothic confection designed by Rombout Keldermans in 1529 but not completed until around 1900. The middle section was intended to be the town belfry, but since it is not even the highest point of this ensemble it is easy to see that it was never completed. It has a Gothic portal and is crowned by turrets to lend it a finished look. To the right is the Cloth Hall (Lakenhalle) built from 1320 to 1326 and rebuilt after the fire of 1342. Its lower section matches the appearance of the belfry base from the same period, but the red brick gable top was an addition from the 17th Century. The interiors and the chambers of the Stadhuis are ornate as you can imagine, with attractive works of paintings, tapestries and stained glass throughout the halls and walls.
Other buildings on the Grote Markt reveal how their roles and locations have shifted over the ages. The Gothic mansion on the northwest corner originally served as the Stadhuis but has been restored as the main post office. The Schepenhuis (Aldermen’s House) is located on the southwest corner of the plaza. Dating from about 1400, this edifice was the seat of the Great Council but is now the library and city archives.
Cars are no longer allowed to park within the Grote Markt. There is now an underground parking garage here. This creates a less congested and more convivial atmosphere here for locals and visitors alike. A popular Christmas Market takes place in the square every December.
"Op-Sinjoorke", the funny looking sculpture of a doll bouncing atop a blanket, is located at the southeast corner of the Grote Markt. It is based on a wood doll dating from 1647 that is the mascot of Mechelen and is carried about in a cloth blanket during town parades. The face of the doll has a scowl, accounting for its previous nicknames as a fool and a disloyal drunk.
From journal Bill in Belgium - MECHELEN (side trip from Antwerp)
April 8, 2004
The Stadhuis (City Hall) forms the western boundary of the Grote Markt. The Stadhuis was designed by Cornelius Floris and others in 1564. After being damaged during the Spanish Fury of 1576, it was reconstructed by Pauwel Luydincx in 1579. The imposing facade is 282 feet long and its design incorporates a blend of Flemish and Italian Renaissance features. A statue of the Virgin Mary has occupied the top niche of the facade since 1587, the first of hundreds of Madonna figures to have appeared all over the city.
In the center of the cobblestoned Grote Markt stands the Brabofontein, a bronze fountain designed by local sculptor Jef Lambeaux in 1887. It illustrates the defining moment of the supposed origins of Antwerp, with Silvius Brabo about to toss the severed hand of the giant Druon Antigonus. This colorful legend has it that Brabo, a Roman warrior, chopped off the giant’s hand and tossed it into the Scheldt River after the giant had wreaked havoc with ships along the waterway. The word handwerpen means "to throw a hand", hence the odd birth of the city name Antwerpen. When the fountain is running, one of the waterspouts squirts out of the severed hand, which seems a bit curious and leads one to imagine what if the water were dyed red.
The Handschoenmarkt is a smaller triangular plaza just south of the Grote Markt. It is this plaza that the Kathedraal faces. It is almost a bit of a shame that the Grote Markt and the Handschoenmarkt were not combined to create one "Super Grote Markt", but then that is what gives the old city center of Antwerp some of its intimate charm.
From journal Bill in Belgium - ANTWERP
, West Virginia
December 27, 2002
In the summer, the fountain is surrounded by a carpet of flowers, but in frigid December, the cobblestone glistened with a thin layer of frozen crystals. In this mirror, the Town Hall reflected its Renaissance facade of animated whimsy. Every set of windows was flanked by attached half-columns and the entire fourth-floor was faced with columned portico. Balustraded balconies, arched insets of statuary, and applied coats of arms decorated the extended center, topped with a stepped-up cupola protruding high above the concave roof. The building reminded me of Rubenshuis. (Built in 1565, it predated the master by 12 years, but he was impressed enough with the Italianate features to reproduce them in his own home.) Inside, one can view the magnificent domed, frescoed stairway that replaced the inner courtyard in 1880, as well as other rooms with remarkable decoration.
Features of the Town Hall are repeated in the guild houses, their stepped-up facades decorated with ornamental stone candles and statuary. As the sky darkened, their forms displayed Christmas lights, which reminded me to shop! A store right on the square had a few cheap prints and a very friendly owner, who spoke English. We lingered a while as he described all we had missed around this square full of surprises. Indeed, one day was not enough for Antwerp! Attractions down every side street could keep one busy a while.
Hilton Antwerp, there on the square with lively dining visible just inside the door, begged us to stay and see more tomorrow, and the ice rink looked inviting, too. Looking up, we saw the ever-present golden clock on the tower of the Cathedral insisting that we depart soon for Brussels. (See my journal: "Six Train Rides out from Brussels.")
From journal A Day with Rubens in Antwerp
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
June 29, 2002
From journal Antwerp, not just a diamond city
July 15, 2001
Certainly this must be the most photographed tourist spot in Antwerpen, but it fulfils a very important social role in the life of the "Sinjoren".
The "Sinjoor" comes here for several festivities. He comes here to drink some beers, sometimes after a wedding ceremony, it is always busy over here, in brief this is his "village-green".
The triangle shape of the Grote Markt points out the Frankish roots of this square. This square is surrounded by Guild houses from the 16th and 17th century.
These guild houses have richly decorated stepped gables which are richly decorated with graceful pinnacles.
Even the Spanish Fury in 1576 didn’t save the Grote Markt, many of the guildhouses did burn down, but soon they were rebuilt.
When you`re visiting the Grote Markt, take care that you don`t forget to visit the Gildekamerstraat, this is the street just behind the City Hall.
In this street you can see a lot of beautiful houses, The Museum of Folklore is located in this street.
The big square is a good place to start your city walk.
From journal City near the Schelde river