Antwerp in History
Antwerp is one of the oldest cities in Belgium. It developed from a Gallo-Roman settlement from the second century at a bend in the river Scheldt. The city grew with its port, which is now the 4th largest harbour in the world. But Antwerp lived its real "Golden Age" during the 15th and 16th centuries, when it was, with Paris, the only city in Europe with more than 100 000 inhabitants. The big prosperity attained with trade and port activities favoured the development of arts and sciences, leaving behind an impressive cultural and intellectual legacy which has been preserved to a large extent.
The religion conflicts that torn Europe in the 16th century and the closure of the Scheldt to trade after the independence of the Northern Low Countries resulted in a huge decline of the city, which lost most of its inhabitants. But even then, arts continued to thrive for some years and some of the main European Baroque painters called Antwerp home, including Rubens, Van Dyck, Teniers and Jordaens. They found in the spirit of the Counter-reformation the perfect breeding ground to explore the possibilities that the excesses of the new style provided.
However, it was not until the independence of Belgium from the Netherlands and the reopening of the Scheldt to trade that Antwerp woke up from its lethargy as a forgotten provincial town and began to grow again at a fast pace, becoming soon the main gate to the new independent country, as well as the economic and cultural hub of Flanders.
Have a a nice Belgian beer....
Have a a nice Belgian beer. Belgian beers are considered by many as the best beers in the world.
Especially try 'Kriek' beer, it's a sweet cherry flavoured beer.Very nice on a warm sunny day:) There's this really relaxed Irish pub in the middle of Antwerp, on the Grote Markt. It's called the Irish Times. They have live music and very friendly staff.
The saga of Brabo
There is a mythological saga that tells that in the beginning of chronology, the curb in the Schelde river was dominated by the giant Druoon Antigoon, who claimed a heavy toll of all passing ships. The ones who refused to pay, well their hand was cut off. This ended when a Roman soldier Silvius Brabo killed the giant, he did cut off his hand and threw it into the Schelde river. From that moment this place was called Handwerpen (werpen = throwing). After sometime, the “H” disappeared and the name Antwerpen was born. This is one of the stories about the name of this wonderful city. The statue of this legendary liberator can be seen on the Grand Market place, just in front of the City Hall. The true story about the name is that it is derived from the word “aanwerpen”, these were spits of land in the Schelde river where ships could moor. And on one of these spits of land, the city was born.
The bronze statue (187) is made by the Antwerp sculpture Jef Lambeaux.
Walking Around Antwerp...
..I just love exploring the places that I go to...walking;...came to a nice building, a statue, a coffe shop, a restaurant...I just click my camera....
'Memory' counts high for me...don't care how I pose or look like....
Not just "another" Art Nouveau building
For some reason, I always wondered myself why, in Belgium, some Socialist Headquarters (Maison du peuple, Volkshuis) were built by Masters of Art Nouveau?
In fact, I don't know that many but the one that used to be Brussels' Maison du peuple and Antwerp's are Art Nouveau buildings. Ghent's Vooruit too, if I am not wrong.
Well, I told ya! These are my pages so I tend to lay here things that come to my mind as long as they are related to discoveries, related questioning... Selfish? I know! :)
In fact, I am not the only one to have that question in mind. And I found out, on the net, lately, what would be the reason. Officially, Victor Horta built the Maison du peuple in Brussels, in 1895, not regarding to any political trend. Yet, it were the blue-collar trade unions who, first, asked Victor Horta to draw the plans of the then future Brussels' Socialist HQ.
It is reported also that the friendship that tied avant-garde artists (Horta and co.) with intellectuals who embraced Socialist ideology (after the social disaster of that time, strikes in Charleroi...) was determinant in the binding of Art Nouveau movement to Socialist ideology. Unofficial version. Those friends were Jules Destree, Max Hallet and Emile Vandervelde, lawyers from Charleroi area. They convinced leaders of Parti Ouvrier Belge (Belgian Labour party) to give to Horta the coordination of the design works...
Also, Hallet strongly supported Horta in his project of Institut des Arts Decoratifs.
Another reason behind the binding, maybe, is the fact that some painters switched from a more "egoistic" form of art : painting, only for few well-offs, to arts decoratifs. Mission is then rather into improving "people's everyday life" (quoting). That, IMHO, can be another inconscient motive of Art Nouveau and Arts deco artists in working for such projects.
More info: http://www.labellepoque.de/bruessel/brussels.htm - This now Steiner school, then Socialist Party HQ, is beautiful. The facade is just wonderful, with its retro twist. Enlarge the pic to see more.
- Cafe Horta, a cafe in Antwerp, near the sunday market and a ugly building, whose I don't remember the name, recuperated also some of construction elements (ironworks) of the Brussels' Maison du peuple that was torn down in the 60s. Cafe Horta integrated those ironworks elements into the structure.
- Art Nouveau facades:
Mosaics are used in Antwerp to adorn the facades whilst Brussels' Nouveau artists preferred sgraffites. Sgraffites are obtained from laying colours and scratching them while still wet to draw motives of one colour then applying same process for other parts, with other colours... till you have the whole image you want. Plus, use of golden foils to enlighten some parts and lines... Find them in Brussels facades. I think a Art Nouveau guided tour will be needed to see those wonders though... Oooh! You may already check here: http://www.eurobru.com/visag085.htm