Favorite thing: Unfortunately, the GUILD HOUSES are not all original. In 1576 a large part of the Grote Markt burned down. Hans Vredeman, the town architect was instrumental in rebuilding these magnificent houses, in Flemish Renaissance style.
Every time you visit Antwerp you should stop at the Grote Markt and greet the statue of Brabo. This little hero was a sailor who was navigating his ship down the river Scheldt. He had planned to sail past Antwerp with his cargo but there was an evil giant stopping every ship and demanding money to let them continue their journey. Brabo fought the giant, cut off the giant's hand and threw it in the water.
This story explains where the name of the city of Antwerp comes from. 'Hand werpen' in Flemish means 'throwing a hand'.
Favorite thing: The Antwerp city hall is an Italian style renaissance building from the 16th century. Check out the paintings as well as the chimney erected in 1548. The mayor and the magistrates actually still have their offices in the city hall so it's not always possible to visit the inside. On Saturdays you can generally have a guided tour around 2pm or 3 pm. The city hall is situated in the center of the old city at the Grote Markt, behind the Brabo fountain.
Notice the DETAILING on the tops of the Guild Houses. On the highest house is a sculpture of Saint Joris defeating the Dragon.
The detailing and the gables make the Guild Houses so charming and photogenic.
The city of ANTWERP , a great city in Belgium, is located on the Scheldt River, close to the North Sea. Besides being the most important center of business in Belgium, Antwerp is also famous for its cathedral and art treasrures. The great Cathedral of Our Lady is one of the largest in Europe and has a spire 400 feet high. Inside the cathedral are some of the great paintings of such famous artists as Rubens and Van Dyck.
Diamond-cutting is one of Antwerp's biggest businesses. Here, rough diamonds are cut and polished by skilled diamond-cutters until they become the brilliant shining stones that we see in jewellery stores.
The Saga behind the STATUE OF BRABO goes something like this:
The Schelde River was dominated by the Giant -- Dryoon Antigoon -- who charged a heavy toll on all passing ships. Those who refused to pay, paid an even higher price -- their hand was cut off. Along comes a Roman Soldier -- Silvius Brabo -- who killed the Giant, cut off his huge hand and tossed it into the Schelde River. Thus according to this legend, the basics for the name of the city *** Hand -- Werpen ( werpen - to throw ) .
The Statue of Brabo, by sculptor Jeff Lambeaux in 1887, can be seen in the Grote Markt in front of the Stadhuis.
Certainly, the most photographed and visited tourist spot in Antwerp is the GROTE MARKT also known as the Big Market Square.
The Market Square is a bustling hubub of acitivity with many bars and restaurants and in the middle stands the Fountain with the Statue of the legendary Brabo.
The triangle-shaped Square is surrounded by the beautiful Guild Houses, dating from the 16th and 17th century, lining one side and the Stadhuis and bars & restaurants lining the other two sides.
Fondest memory: The Grote Markt was very busy on the day we visited, despite the rainfall. There was some type of celebrations going on as there were festival tents set up everywhere. Though the weather was disappointing, I really enjoyed seeing this marvelous Market Square.
The first place I visited in Antwerp was triangle in shape Main Square (Grote Markt) and the Town Hall (Stadhuis) with Fontain Brabo in front. And it was a blast! I liked a lot the Town Hall with its hundreds colorful flags, heavy lighted at sunrise - amazing view for my eyes that time.
The present town hall was finished in 1564 in new that time Renaissance style. Antwerp was one of the most powerful European and world's cities that time.
The center of the city has three basic sections. One is the old cathedral, its easy to navigate from here because the belltower is so tall you can see it from anywhere. The second section is the governmental building with the old guild halls, has the statue there etc. There is a visitor information stall there with other ideas. Southwest of there is the Rubens museum, which is in the shopping area, called Meir straat. The picture here is of the second section, where the governmental seat is.
Fondest memory: The walking tours. We didn't have a guide, just bought the booklets for fifty cents and walked and read. You buy it in the visitor information center.
Favorite thing: The old town of Antwerp is full of beautiful houses, erected in Flemish style. Just stroll along the streets around the 'Grote Markt' (Market Square) and 'Groenplaats' and enjoy the views and make lots of pics.
The Market Square is a beautiful square with an impressive city hall and guild houses with stepped gables and gilt statues. You think, you're back in the 16th and 17th century when walking over this square.
Today's Market Square is still a lively centre with many pubs and restaurants and the statue of the legendary Brabo in the middle.
Ofcourse a visit to the beautiful market square was on our list as well!
Here is a detail of one of the decorations of the guild houses
Sint Joris (and Aadil knows the right English name hehehe) defeating the dragon.
ANTWERP : THE 'GROTE MARKT'
Not as big as the 'Grand'Place' of Brussels, but certainly as beautiful is the 'Grote Markt' (= Town Square) of Antwerp. Here is still the heart of the old city. The Grote Markt is beautifully surrounded by the Town Hall and the so-called houses of the Guilds or corporations. In the background the tower of Our Lady's Cathedral completes the magnificent view.
The houses of the Guilds are unfortunately not the original ones. A large part of the Grote Markt burned down in 1576. Most of the houses were rebuilt afterwards by Hans Vredeman, the town architect, in Flemish Renaissance style. In the 19th century the houses were again renovated. The house number 7 is one of the most beautiful. It was the house of the guild of Archers and is crowned by the statue of St. George. The house number 25 , a reconstruction of a house that used to stand at the 'Meir' is situated on the spot were an Inn used to stand. This Inn was mentioned in the medieval play of 'Marieken van Nieumwhegen'. Nowadays the Grote Markt is one of the most pleasant squares in the city (certainly since traffic has been banned from it). During beautiful warm summer days most people choose this spot to enjoy a refreshing beer from one of the many terraces.
When you are at the Market Square the 16th century decor comes to life. You will see the City Hall, one of the biggest Renaissance buildings in the country, the Guild Houses with statues of their patron saints or figures, symbolizing the house names on top of their facades, and high above the dominating gothic tower of the Cathedral. The City Hall went built “between 1561 – 1564” under the guidance of Cornelis Floris de Vriendt.
Notice that on the ground floor there are 45 doors; these were shops of peddlers who where entitled to market stalls which they had one lost of the Market Square when the City Hall, which is literally on the old marked was built.
Favorite thing: The Brabo fountain in the middle of the Market Square tell the legend of the giant Antigoon, who chopped off the hands of sailors refusing to pay their tolls. However, the Roman centurion Silvius Brabo conquered the giant, chopped off his hand and threw it into the Schelde and by so doing became the hero of Antwerp. Legend has it that from this the name Antwerp (hand-throwing) derived.