Construction of the St. Andrew’s Church commenced in the 16th century by Augustine friars who had built a convent with a chapel at the same location in 1513. The Augustinians decided to build a church there in 1514 but when they were accused of Lutheran sympathies the grounds were taken from them. In 1527 the site was parceled to finance the building of the church. The former convent chapel was expanded and then consecrated as a parish church in 1529. The church was later expanded with a tower in the west and a transept.
During the Beeldenstorm (Iconoclastic riots) of 1566 the church interior was destroyed. The church was divided up between Catholics and Calvinists in 1568. In 1579 the division was made permanent through the construction of a dividing wall. In 1581 the Calvinists denied the Catholics access to the church and demolished the part of the church that was assigned to the Catholics. After the Fall of Antwerp in 1585 and the defeat of the Calvinists, the church was returned to the Catholics. The church was decorated with new altar pieces by leading Antwerp artists such as Otto van Veen, Maarten de Vos and one of the many members of the Francken family who lived nearby.
In the middle of the 17th century a large construction campaign was started. First an arch was built over the nave and the transept destroyed by the Calvinists was rebuilt and expanded. In subsequent years, the church was further expanded with a choir with two bays and later with two chapels. In 1755 the tower of the church collapsed and a new Baroque tower designed by Engelbert Baets was constructed inside the western bay of the nave.
During the French revolutionary occupation starting in 1794, the church was saved by the decision of the priest Jan-Michiel Timmermans to swear allegiance to the French regime. The church lost some of its silver, the triptych by Marten de Vos and the statue of St. Peter by Artus Quellinus I to confiscation by the French. After the Concordat of 1801 between Napoleon and the Pope, the church became again the parish church of the Parish of St. Andrew’s in 1802 and the confiscated St. Peter statue was returned. It would take longer to recover the Marten de Vos triptych which finally ended up in the Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp.
In the early 18th century, more Baroque furniture and paintings, mainly retrieved from churches and monasteries destroyed or closed during the French occupation, were added to the church. The church suffered major damage during the Dutch bombardment of Antwerp in 1830 and burnt down partially. From 1863 the church was fitted out with new stained glass windows in Gothic Revival style. The stained glass windows on the north side were destroyed on 2 January 1945 through the explosion of a German V-1 flying bomb. These were later replaced by windows designed by Jan Huet.
The church contains many valuable artefacts and art works. It holds a monument erected in memory of Mary, Queen of Scots, by Robert and Jan De Nole (1620) with a portrait painted on copper by Frans Pourbus the Younger (1569-1622).
There are many paintings by Antwerp's leading painters such as Ambrosius Francken (1544-1618), Otto van Veen (1560-1629), Hendrick van Balen (1575-1632), Maarten Pepyn (1575-1643), Frans Francken the Younger (1581-1642), the workshop of Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Erasmus Quellinus the Younger (1607-78), Theodoor Boeyermans and Karel Verlat (1845-57).
Many of the church's furnishings are distinctly in the Baroque style, as earlier pieces had been destroyed during the 16th century Beeldenstorm. The church furniture is made by some of the leading sculptors of their time. The High Altar was originally from the former St. Bernard Abbey and the choir stalls from the convent of the Augustinian friars and are both the work of Pieter Verbrugghen I (1615-68). The sacrament altar and confessional in the Our Lady's Chapel are by Lodewijk Willemsens (1630-1703). The Holy Cross Altar is by Cornelis van Mildert (1664). The St. Anna Shrine is by Jan van den Cruyce (1674). The Our Lady Altar was made by Peeter Vervoort and father and son Willem Kerrickx (1729). The organ case is the work of Engelbert Baets (1779) and the pulpit is by Jan Baptist Van Hool and Jan Frans van Geel (1821).References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.