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

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Leah Mitchell (2 years ago)
Amazing visit. Few paintings of Rubens inside makes it a pleasantly visit. Massive cathedral and very nice.
ankur banerjee (2 years ago)
Very nice place. Visited first during New year's Eve. Had a great experience. The Roman architecture is marvelous as always!
Maksud Ahmad (2 years ago)
I visited Port Antwerp and then went to the city center. It is a nice place. You will feel that you are walking around an old city. The people were nice as well. You will find a lot of gift shops and restaurants there.
ISF GDN (3 years ago)
There are no words to describe this masterpiece. A true beauty and jaw dropping church, in the heart of Antwerp. Highlights: With an organized tour, you can climb the top of the main tower, right next to the bells. Love it.
Svetoslav Simeonov (3 years ago)
Great cathedral in the heart of Antwerp, looks amazing both in daylight and at night. Situated by the central square, it reaches above all other buildings in the area. One of the best tourist attractions, it has quite a lot of history inside. Many souvenir shops around, one can also sit and try the local cuisine in one of the numerous pubs and cafes.
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