Brabo Fountain, Antwerp
To be honest you can't really miss the Brabo Fountain anyway because it's slap bang in the middle of The Grote Markt. The reason I say don't miss it is not because it's a fantastic work of art or of somebody famous, but because it's supposedly about how Antwerp got its name.
During the time I was here this story cropped up time and again and this statue represents the story.
The giant, Antigoon, as the legend goes, demanded a high toll for any ship entering Antwerp and anyone who refused to pay would have their hand cut off. Silvius Brabo (most likely a mythical Roman soldier), fought the giant and, like David against Goliath, defeated Antigonus, whereby he then reciprocated the deed by cutting off the giant's hand and threw it into the River Scheldt.
The name of Antwerp literally means 'Hand Throw'
Located in the centre of 'Grote Markt' is this statue created by the architect 'Jef Lambaux'.It depicts the protagonist of Antwerp's most famous legend:the mythical hero Brabo.According to Legend the giant 'Antigoon' demanded a high toll for each ship that wanted to enter the city.If the ship's crew did not want to pay the toll,their hands were cut off.The hero 'Brabo' fought the giant,cut its hand and head and threw the hand into the River.The fountains statue depicts Brabo throwing the giant's hand into the River Sheldt and symbolizes free passage through the River.As such is a political swipe at the Dutch,who long blocked free traffic on the Sheldt.Water shoots out from various parts of the statue during the day and is a favorite for visitors and their camera's.
In the middle of the 'Grote Markt' stands the Brabo fountain. The statue was made by sculptor Jef Lambeaux in 1887. According to a legend, a terrible giant, called Druoon Antigoon, lived on the banks of the river Scheldt in ancient times. Whenever sailors on the Scheldt river refused to pay toll to the giant, he punished them by cutting off their hand. A Roman soldier, Silvius Brabo, who was a nephew of Julius Caesar, managed to kill the giant. Brabo cut off the hand of the giant and threw the hand away in the river.
In the middle of the square is a large fountain, built in 1887 by the architect Jef Lambaux. It depicts Antwerp's symbol: the mythical hero Brabo. According to an Antwerp Legend, the giant Antigoon demanded a high toll for each ship that wanted to enter the city. If the ship's crew did not want to pay the toll, their hands were cut off. The hero Brabo fought the giant, cut its hand and head and threw the hand in the river. The fountain's statue depicts Brabo throwing the giant's hand in the river Scheldt and symbolizes the free river.
In front of the City Hall, a monumental fountain splashes water into the pavement from a representation of the legendary local hero Silvius Brabo, after whom the Brabant is named. In the fountain, he is depicted in the scene which, according to the myth, also gave its name to the city of Antwerp: the Roman soldier is about to throw the hand of the giant Antigon into the Scheldt river.
By this, Bravo released the port from the fear caused by this giant who required a toll to every person intending to cross the river.
The bronze statue is a work of Jef Lambeaux, one of the most famous 19th century Belgian sculptors, who made later the monumental relief in Victor Horta's Pavilion of the Human Passions in Brussels. In this fountain, Lambeaux develops the theme of the human figure in motion and finds inspiration in the Mercures sculpted by Giambologna in the 16th century.
This fountain is sure one of Antwerp’s best-known monuments, depiciting a tale around the founding of Antwerp. The tale dates back to the middle ages. It was said, that once a giant demanded a high fare from every seaman who wanted to enter the Schelde river. Those who were not able to pay the fare had cut their hands off. The roman hero Brabo fought the giant, cut off his hand and threw it into the river. This scene, depicted on the fountain, symbolizes the free river and so the free trade which made Antwerp so wealthy.
The fountain was designed by Jef Lambaux in 1887. Beside the figures, the most interesting aspect is the water running along them and disappearing somewhere on the floor or between the stones.
I was happily snapping photos of this fountain when my husband came up to me and asked if I had REALLY looked at the statue. It was then I noticed the water pumping out of a man's severed neck and severed arm, what kind of folks live in Antwerp anyway????
After I got back to the hotel I received the explanation of the grotesque fountain, legend has it that a mythical giant named Druon Antigon levied exorbitant taxes from the mariners who passed his castle on the river Scheldt, when they refused to pay, he'd cut off their hands and toss them into the river. So it was fitting that when Roman soldier Silvius Brabo slayed the giant, he also cut off his right hand and tossed it into the river.
One theory on the name of the city takes the Flemish word handwerpen (throwing of the hand) and turns it into Antwerpen (Antwerp). Even if it's not the origin of the city's name, the legend inspired two statues and you can find replicas of the giant's hand in things such as chocolates (yes, I ate one of those hands!)
Look at the 2nd and 3rd photos to see the giant's head and the severed neck/arm.
In the middle of Grote Markt stands the Brabo fountain with the statue made by sculptor Jef Lambeaux in 1887.
An old legend say that the statue took its name from a Roman soldier’s name, Silvius Brabo, who managed to kill the giant Druoon Antigoon, who used to punish the sailors which refused to pay him the toll by cutting off their hand. Brabo cut off the giant’s hand and threw it in the river.
Interesting is that the water of the fountain is not caught in a basin, but just simply disappears under the stones of the monument.
Some say that the Market Square in Antwerp couldn't be imagined without the Brabo fountain.
The fountain was made by Jef Lambeaux, inspired by the story of young Silvius Brabo, Julius Caesar's nephew, who vanquished the giant Antigoon and punished him just as the giant used to punish all the captains of the ships who couldn't pay his toll. He cut off Antigoon's right hand and threw it into the Scheldt.
It is located in the middle Grote Market. The sculpture was designed by Jef Lambeaux after he got impressed the story of a giant who used to live by the river bank of Scheldt, and was very cruel. The giant used to chop hands of all the sailors who refuse to pay the toll, but a brave soldier kills the giant and throws his hand in the river.
In front of the City Hall you can see the statue 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 of the word “aanwerpen”, this 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 (1887) is made by the Antwerp sculpture Jef Lambeaux.
The statue of Brabo tells the legend of Brabo who won the fight against the giant Antigoon. Brabo threw the hand of the giant in the Schelde and so the city was called Antwerpen (hand throwing). This is one of the stories that explain the name of the city, there are a few more so I don't know if it is true. In summer you can't sit on the statue because its a fountain.
The Brabo Fountain is the most famous statue in Antwerp. It represents the urban myth of how Antwerp got it's name. You can read this story in one of my other tips. But in short Brabo cut of the hand of a giant. Hand Werpen quickly became Antwerpen.
You can find the fountain in front of the city hall on the market square.
Antwerp was often written as 'Hantwerpen' even into the seventeenth century.
The legend has it that around the beginning of our calendar, the giant Antigoon called the shots at the bend in the River Scheldt, demanding a heavy toll from each passing shipmaster. Those who refused to pay had a hand chopped off.
An end came to this wicked enterprise when the Roman warrior Silvius Brabo, slew the giant, chopped off its hand and threw it into the River Scheldt. Hence: 'Hantwerpen', 'hand throwing'. The H disappeared, 'Antwerpen' as we call it in Dutch and Belgium stuck.
History recalls a legend. A giant Antigoon was master of the river Schelde and asked a huge tole to all shippers that used this river. If not paid, the giant took the ship and cut of the hand of the shipper, throwing it in the Schelde. But then Brabo came, the hero of the story. He fought with Antigoon and killed him. He cut off his hand and threw it in the river.
Later people built a town where this happened. In Dutch "hand throwing" is "hand werpen" and some say that they took that as the name for their new place to live. "Handwerpen" became "Antwerpen" through the years and the handthrowing hero of the story can be seen as a statue and fountain in front of the beautiful cityhall.