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Cathedral of Our Lady (Antwerp) photograph.
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz

Cathedral of Our Lady (Antwerp) photograph.


Cathedral of Our Lady (Antwerp) photograph.
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz

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Cathedral of Our Lady
(Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal)

Also known as: Notre Dame Cathedral
Designed by: Peter Appelmans, Rombout Keldermans the Younger, Herman and Domien de Waghemakere, and others
Type: Holy Place
Maximum Height: 400 feet / 122 meters
Maximum width: 171 feet / 52 meters
Maximum length: 384 feet / 117 meters
Location: Handschoenmarkt, Antwerp, Belgium
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A s cathedrals go, this is a very large one; and it never reached its intended size. The original plan called for a cathedral three times as large, with nine naves. A fire changed those plans, but still the Cathedral of Our Lady is the largest in the Low Countries. Its tower is an impressive 404 feet tall. Inside is a carillon with 47 bells. Even with those dimensions, the largest of the three towers was never built. The cathedral has borne the brunt of many centuries of turmoil. The area has repeatedly changed hands, and in 1566 the Calvinists devastated the cathedral. In the 18th century, the French did the most damage. They stripped the cathedral bare, broke up the floor, and sold off all of its great works of art. The cathedral's foundation routinely scours the world's auction houses bidding on pieces of its own history. Today, many of those works are slowly being brought back home, and the cathedral functions as a very well stocked art gallery. A minimal admission is charged, and Belgian francs, Dutch guilders, and American dollars are all accepted at the door. There are a number of paintings by Pieter Paul Rubens in the cathedral, including the famous Descent from the Cross (1612), The Elevation of the Cross (1610), and The Assumption of the Virgin Mary (1625-1626). If you go, try to be there around noon. The last Ruben mentioned is positioned so that the sunlight illuminates it at 12:00pm. Ruben, himself, is buried in the nearby Church of Saint James. Several impossibly large works of art hang from the ceiling. Among them, the Triumphal Cross with Saint John and Our Lady, made in the 15th, 17th, and 19th centuries, respectively. Even the confessional (H.F. Verbrugghen 18th century) and the communion rail (L. Willemssens, 1680) are so well crafted and so intricately adorned that they are considered works of art. In addition to the altars, paintings, and statuary, the cathedral is adorned with 34 immense stained glass windows. The one pictured here shows Saint Amand preaching in Antwerp. It was fashioned by E. Didron in 1872. For the curious, a spiral staircase will take you below the church where a small portion of the crypts has been excavated and is available for public view. Unlike at other cathedrals, there is no additional charge for this view.

  • 1352-1411: Main church body is erected.
  • 1422-1474: Wester façade constructed.
  • 1501-1507: Octagonal portion of the tower built.
  • 1508-1518: Tower completed.

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Nicole Didden
Sunday, August 6th, 2006 @ 9:15am
I remember a story...the Cathedral being build on tanned skins, put as a layer just 1 meter deep.


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