Belgium at last! We have been traveling without a chance for updates during the last few weeks and we are a few countries behind, but it’s time to take a short break to share these three stunning displays of Belgian heritage and pride. We were only in Belgium for four days, but during that short time we got the priveledge of seeing the city through the eyes of a lifelong Antwerp resident, philanthopist, and friend: Kamiel. He took us on a tour of each of these iconic buildings which dominate the city skyline and explained their part within the history of the city and their various restorations.
1) St. Paul’s Church
Located in the old city-center of Antwerp, the interior of this church epitomizes Baroque design and sensibility.
^^^Of the countless works of art displayed inside the church (including works by famous Antwerp residents Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck), the wooden Baroque confessionals are the most unique. These sculptures line the enitre building and include meticulously detailed life-size wooden figures carved by generations of Belgian sculptors.
This installation was started by Pieter Verbrugghen I in 1700, and the surface of the wood has a beautfiul ebony sheen from over 300 years of careful preservation.
^^^Outside of the church is the Cavalry; a garden containing several large rough sculptures and surrounded by residential homes. Who wouldn’t want to look out their back window and see this?
2) Cathedral of Our Lady
As well as being one of Antwerps most iconic monuments, this Roman Catholic cathedral is also listed as a World Heritage Site.
The cathedral contains several major works by the most famous artist from Antwerp: Peter Paul Rubens.
^^^I studied The Raising of the Cross altarpiece in college, it was a major work in my art history textbooks. I could never have imagined that I would get to see it in person.
This incredible contemporary installation accompanies the famous relics. A darkened room is lined with shaped mirrors reflecting projections of singers performing Gregorian chants.
3) Saint Carolus Borromeus Church
This church was restored during the 1980s and wins the hidden gem award. Tucked away in a small square in the Old Town, we visited three times during our four-day stay in Antwerp (church opening hours are sporatic) before managing to sneak in for a look.