Day By Day

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Through the Heart of Europe -- Part 13, Antwerp

We disembarked in Antwerp, and took a walking tour of the city.

Bicycles and poetry.

Along the riverfront.

A riverside statue commemorating a local legend about a giant who would attack local boatmen [when they were drunk].

This is the Antwerp "Steen" [stone fort] that guarded the harbor. It was first constructed in the fourteenth century and has been renovated several times since.

This is the Antwerp "meat hall" [Vleeshuis] which housed the butchers guild. The bricks and sandstone were selected and organized to make the whole structure look like a thick slab of meat. The style is called, in Dutch, "speklagen" which means "bacon layers".

Beside the meat hall is the "blood mountain". Butchers would slaughter animals at the top of the rise and the blood would drain down both sides.

Nearly every block boasts one of these statues of the Virgin Mary. They testify, not to the devotion of the Antwerpen, but to their ingenuity. Street lanterns were heavily taxed by local authorities, but religious shrines were tax exempt, so every time residents or merchants wanted to light their streets they erected a statue of the virgin and claimed that the light fixture was part of a shrine.

The "Grote Markt", Antwerp's central square, dominated by the Cathedral of Our Lady, constructed in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth centuries over the site of a Thirteenth century chapel.

The city hall, decorated by flags of all the nations that maintained embassies in the city.

Guildhalls. The tallest one is that of the archers guild, which was charged with the defense of the city. It was the most prestigious guild and one of its most famous members was Peter Paul Rubens. The medieval buildings burned in the mid-sixteenth century and were rebuilt in Renaissance style. The statue in the foreground illustrates another local legend. Supposedly an evil giant named Druoon Antigoon was terrorizing the local populace, but a Roman soldier named Silvius Brabo killed him, cut off his hand, and threw it in the river. This incident supposedly gave the town its name [hand werpen] which means hand thrown.

Renaissance style houses and shops.

A sixteenth century workers house.

These statues honor the artisans who worked on the cathedral.


One more game, one more level, and I will eat.

A warehouse for goods shipped from the Belgian Congo.

The green square "Groenplaats" which features a statue of Rubens and in the background stands the tower of the Cathedral.

Looking back at the cathedral from the river.

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