Antwerp has always being attached to Our Lady (there you have the Cathedral for!)
We used to have about 500 public Madonna statues all over town, but the Spanish inquisition and reformation, and later on the French Revolution and invation of Napoleon, forced us to hide those statues that could be safed from those two rages (you see that destroying religious statues is of all times).
Now about 120 are put back in public again, some originally restaurated, some copies of the too much damaged originals.
Some are new statues as well.
The amount is still growing.
So if you take a walk through the city... look at the corners of the streets, on the wall of houses, most probably you will find a madonna statue there.
External photo album 1
A well-known fact in Belgium is that the natives of Antwerp call themselves Sinjoors. However, not just any Antwerpian can earn this glossy title. It's actually quite a demanding procedure: both your father and your grandfather had to be born in the old town of Antwerp. Got roots on the left bank of the Scheldt? Bad luck! Another thing Sinjoors are famous for is their lack of modesty. Their typical saying is: 'Chauvinism? We don't need it!' This pretty much sums it up, I think!
Those living in Antwerp (it's a city as well as a Flemish province) won't like to hear me saying this, but they are a perculiar kind of folk. Especially those people living in Antwerp. Again, the language hear is Flemish, with a very strong local accent Dutch-speaking people can recognize anywhere. But the funny thing is, the 'Antwerpenaars' think they speak Dutch perfectly well. This is only one of the examples of how arrogant and chauvinistic they can be (don't you deny it!). Antwerp is beautiful, there is a lot going on, lots of culture and history. Definitely worth seeing.
But bear in mind what I said. Antwerpenaars think their city is the center of the world, ha ha! The older generation still speaks mostly French, because they think it's chic and classy. Fur coats are therefore not rare when you walk the streets of Antwerp.
And why wouldn't they be proud of their city? Antwerp was the home of many famous Flemish artists, for example the 17th century painters such as Peter Paul Rubens. Do visit his house if you have the chance.
It used to be a tradition or expression of religion to have Maria statues on houses. Still there are many of these lovely Maria statues to be seen.