Cathedral of Our Lady

Antwerp, Belgium

The Cathedral of Our Lady contains a number of significant works by the Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens, as well as paintings by artists such as Otto van Veen, Jacob de Backer and Marten de Vos. The belfry of the cathedral is included in 'Belfries of Belgium and France' in the list of World Heritage Sites.

Where the cathedral now stands, there was a small chapel of Our Lady from the 9th to the 12th century, which acquired the status of parish church in 1124. During the course of the twelfth century, it was replaced by a larger Romanesque church. In 1352, construction was begun on a new Our Lady’s church which would become the largest Gothic church in the Netherlands. In the beginning, it was to be provided with two towers of equal height. In 1521, after nearly 170 years, the new church of Our Lady was ready. The south tower reached only as far as the third string course.

During the night of 5–6 October 1533, the new church was largely gutted by fire. The completion of the second tower was therefore delayed, which led to its ultimate postponement. Moreover, the church only became cathedral of the bishopric of Antwerp in 1559 but lost this title again from 1801 to 1961, following the Concordat of 1801. During the Iconoclasm of 20 August 1566, Protestants destroyed a large part of the cathedral interior. Later, when Antwerp came under Protestant administration in 1581, a number of artistic treasures were once again destroyed, removed or sold. The restoration of Roman Catholic authority came in 1585 with the fall of Antwerp.

In 1794 the French revolutionaries who conquered the region plundered Our Lady’s Cathedral and inflicted serious damage. Around 1798, the French administration intended to demolish the building but after each blow, the cathedral was able to recover. In 1816, various important works of art were returned from Paris, including three Rubens masterpieces. And over the course of the 19th century, the church was completely restored and refurnished.

Between 1965 and 1993, a complete restoration took place.

The cathedral possesses some major works of art from Peter Paul Rubens; The Raising of the Cross, Assumption of the Virgin Mary and The Descent from the Cross.



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Founded: 1352
Category: Religious sites in Belgium


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ahmet Selim Bozok (2 years ago)
Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady is one of the top 3 places to see in Antwerp. Construction was completed in 1521, it's capacity is 25,000 visitors. If the cathedral looks imposing, it's interior looks magnetic, with paintings by Rubens, and very impressive wood ornaments. There are also two big organs. Entrance is charged but is worth every penny.
kevin mills (2 years ago)
A fairly steep entry price, but don't be put off by that. This is one of Europe's great cathedrals . Great wood carving, stain glass windows, history and a fair few paintings by rubens. Def worth a visit
Michael Mauer (2 years ago)
Sort of expensive to get in but I thought it was worth it. The scale of the inside is very impressive, and the art on display is truly beautiful. There's plenty of explanations written in many languages too so it's very easy to learn about the art etc. I could have spent ages in there just soaking it in.
Olga V. Mack (2 years ago)
This’s a real gem of a cathedral. It’s spectacular. It will makes your heart sing. It’s dazzling white. With many impressive carvings and objects of art that have religious significance. Remember it’s a functional cathedral. We happen to visit during the ceremony and were asked to watch from the hallway.
Jelle Wassenaar (2 years ago)
A sublime church with a great tour guide. The old lady was absolutely incredible and had so much knowledge. Definitely recommend getting a tour from her!
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