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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Details

Founded: 1352
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jelle Wassenaar (7 months 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!
Giovanni Vaccari (7 months ago)
The cathedral is going through renovation but inside it remains the amazing masterpiece of religion and art. The Rubens pieces are a wonder and it’s such a must see if you are in Antwerp. Tours are also provided, please check their website or call for more information. Suitable for both religious and art lovers.
James Barrow (7 months ago)
Beautiful Church. Entry is not free. Art historians can also see some fantastic paintings as well as the amazing architecture. There are also plenty of places to pray and worship for those who are religious. I'm always moved by the amazing creations in this world
Catherine Filippova (10 months ago)
Cathedral is really impressive inside. From the outside there are still works going so we didn't see much. I had a free guide who was really nice. This gentleman asked what i would like to know and then explained me such details which I would never have guessed. Highly recommended!
Manoj Fz (2 years ago)
Currently under renovation
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