Its delicate Gothic tower (403 feet high) is the dominant pinnacle of the skyline and is recognized as the elegant symbol of the city. Designed by Peeter Appelmans but finished about a century later, the tower is faced with clocks and contains a carillon with 47 chimes. Upon close inspection, this tower was to be one of a pair, but the second one to the south was not completed and looks quite stubby except for a cross and dark pointed steeple capping it.
The cool white interiors of the Kathedraal are illuminated by two significant triptychs by Peter Paul Rubens. The one in the north transept is the "Raising of the Cross". The one in the south transept is the "Descent from the Cross". Both the former (painted in 1610) and the latter (1612) have the subjects depicted with sweeping emotions, muscular bodies, bold colors, and dynamic diagonal compositions that involve and educate the audience. Try to also look at the "back" of the side panels of the triptychs, which are more subdued but still very fine art. When compared with these paintings, nearby artworks by inferior artists pale in comparison. Rubens also painted the "Assumption" (1626), majestically stationed above the high altar, and the "Resurrection" (1612), which is located within one of the side chapels. Critics generally agree that Descent is the best of Rubens on display within the Kathedraal.
Visitors usually dash towards the Rubens works, but the vast interiors have other merits as well. The Baroque wooden pulpit in the central nave, by the sculptor Michel van der Voort, is inspiring and richly carved although its depiction of the female figures representing the four continents is now seen as archaic although quite reasonable for its time in 1713. Many other artworks were lost or stolen over the years, which is hard to believe considering the abundance of art still remaining.
Results 1-6of 6 Reviews
April 8, 2004
From journal Bill in Belgium - ANTWERP
Todmorden, England, United Kingdom
September 26, 2003
There is a small entry charge (€2), but it is then possible to admire the Rubens works at really close range.
From journal 'appy in Antwerp
, West Virginia
December 27, 2002
In our quest for the biggest and the best, we were determined to admire the beauty of the
structure and the overall effect of its decoration rather than gazing endlessly at the 4 Rubens masterpieces contained there. (We had just seen so many of these at RubensHuis, and we didn’t want them to overshadow our appreciation of the Cathedral.) This was not difficult. Endless detail of fine craftsmanship led me to exclaim to my friend: "It took as many people to build this as to create the internet!" A
harmonious coming-together of diverse talents always inspires me with awe!
My friend and I had to take turns with the camera. He kept zooming in on minute details
of craftsmanship; I, master designer by choice, admired the nave and chapel "scenes" here and there where "perfect beauty" could not be improved. For him, the meticulous carving of oak choir stalls and pulpit was intriguing; for me, the engineering of lightfall on the high altar was miraculous--and there was that Rubens!
The Assumption of Our Lady was the most colorful, most dramatic decoration about the scene. High in front of it, a beautiful
gold cross directed attention up to the light through the stained glass and finally to a
frescoed ceiling: a repetition of The Assumption theme by Cornelis Schut, a contemporary of Rubens. In his own house, Rubens’ work could not appear so magnificent, but here, it was surrounded by painstaking effect, more than any one master could reproduce at home, no matter how he tried. (See entry "Rubenshuis.")
Proceding now to the tomb of Jan Moretus and Martina Plantin, the Antwerp printers whose museum home I had not time to see, I would view Rubens’ The Resurrection of Christ, which the painter himself designated for these friends. Beautiful! Yes, the master’s huge book collection was partly ordered in their printing shop. Here in the Cathedral, the society of early 17th-Century Antwerp was preserved.
We still had to see The Raising of the Cross and The Descent from the Cross in the transepts left and right of the high altar. Again, honored positions in the lovely church presented the masterpieces to their best advantage.
It was dark when we exited the church. From the the market square, the Brabantine gothic form 120 meters high shined gold for all the community to find their way, as the masters had. (See photo, Grote Markt entry.)
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
The Cathedral is also very famous because of his magnificent collection of stained – glass windows, some of them still date from the 15th and 16th century.
The Cathedral also has a beautiful collection of paintings: amongst them are 4 of Ruben's most important paintings: The Descent of the Cross, The Raising of the Cross, The Assumption and The Resurrection.
From journal City near the Schelde river
The cathedral of Our Lady dominates the Antwerp skyline with its 123-m high tower. Originally there was even planned a second tower. But there was a fire in 1521, and there was so much money needed to restore the building, that there was no more money left for the second tower.
Through the years the Cathedral has been destroyed many times: by fire, by the iconoclastic fury, by the French occupation, . . .
This monumental building shows the wealth of the ancient Antwerp. The style of the Cathedral changed many times through the years, from Renaissance to Baroque, to Rococo, to Classicism. The magnificent tower contains a Carillon with 47 bells. Towards the Southern Tower you can see a group of statues to honour the architect Pieter Appelmans.