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Carolus Boromeus Church Tips (44)


This typical baroque church was built by the Jesuits between 1615 and 1621 to a design drawn up by their rector Francois Aguillon and Brother Peter Huyssens. Rubens played an important part in the decoration of the facade and the pinnacle of the tower but especially of the interior. However, thirty-nine ceiling paintings, the work of his studio, were lost in a fire in 1718. Most of the original marble was also destroyed.

But the apse of the main altar and the Mary Chapel were spared and still convey an impression of the church’s former splendor which in the light of the Counter-Reformation was expressly intended to revive the faith of believers, but especially of backsliders.

The present interior was created under the direction of Jan Peter van Baurscheit the Elder who also built the pulpit and the splendid casing for the Forceville organ. There are also sculptures and wood carvings by Michiel van der Voort, Andries de Nole and others.

A single painting hangs above the altar but it is not always the same one. An original mechanism which is still in working order makes it possible to change the paintings. An impressive spe

mallyak's Profile Photo
Aug 11, 2008

Visit Saint Charles Borromeus Church

Almost hidden in a cozy square in the heart of the pedestrian area of Antwerp, the Church of Saint Charles Borromeus is considered to be one of the most beautiful Baroque buildings in Belgium. It was initially dedicated to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, as it was a Jesuit church built in the spirit of the Counter-Reformation.

Peter Paul Rubens participated in the design of the church and even did several paintings. Saddly, most of his frescoes that decorated the vaults were lost in a fire.

The monumental façade is a typical example of the expansive Jesuit churches in the counter-reformation period, inspired by the Church of Il Gesù, in Rome, the first jesuit church ever built.

To fully understand the significance and appearance of this building, you have to put into the historical context of the period when it was built: the city had just been secured by the Crown within its posessions after the siege of 1589 and all the protestants had been forced out. At the same time, the recognition of the independence of the United Provinces of the Netherlands led to the closure of the Scheldt to commerce and, with it, to the end of Antwerp's economic prosterity. Thus, in this period of crisis and religion wars, the new eye-catching building was erected a sign of the vigour of the Catholic church as opposed to the Calvinism.

DanielF's Profile Photo
Dec 17, 2007


When you visit this church, you are not sure what is the greater piece of barqoue art: The interior or the beautiful facade? It was built between 1615 and 1621 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Shortly after being declared saint, the church was re-dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. As a typical baroque church, it was richly decorated and even Rubens was involved in ist designed. But unfortunately, a lightning struck the church on July 18th of 1718, causing a fire. The fire destroyed a large part of the churche’s interior, inclduing 39 painting by Peter Paul Rubens. After the Order of the Jesuits was dissolved in Europe in 1773, the church was re-dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo. Larger restoration works took place in the 1980s when the church was rebuilt in the way it was before the lightning.

Airpunk's Profile Photo
Mar 05, 2007

St. Carolus Borromeuskerk

Located in Henrik Conscienceplein, a small square about 5 minutes from the Grote Markt, St. Carolus-Borromeuskerk is a Flemish baroque church built in 1621 by the Jesuits. Much of the church was designed by Peter Paul Rubens, the facade and tower plus 39 ceiling paintings which were unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1718.

Admission is free.

Dabs's Profile Photo
Jan 27, 2007
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Carolus borromeus church

The Carolus Borromeus Church is one of the nicest buildings in Antwerp. This typical Baroque church was build by the Jesuits from 1615 untill 1621. Francois Aguillon and friar Peter Huyssens were leading a team to build this church during the Contrareformation.
The prestigeous project had just one purpose; to get people back to church. After the influence of the Calvinists, this wasn't an easy job.
Rubens designed the decoration on the front, the top of the tower and the interior. Unfortunatly 39 of the paintings on the ceilling and most of the marble was lost in a fire in 1718. The apsis of the main altar and the chapel of Maria survived, showing a glimpse of the former beauty of this building.
The new interior includes several masterpieces. Especialy the confessingchairs are decorated with splendid sculptures.The central painting above the main altar changes from time to time. The mechanisme to do so is the original one and is still working.
I like this church even more than the Cathedral of our Lady. If I ever were to mary in a church, it would deffinatly be here.

yashiko's Profile Photo
Mar 10, 2005

ARCHITECTURE - Rubens again?

The Carolus Borromeus church was
build in 1621.At that time Rubens was alive
and kicking and designed the front of this
impressive church.(It is the most expensive
church in Antwerp to get married in)
But it is beautiful on the inside as well.
The Jesuits build it to seduce people to go
back to chuch.

In a big fire the paintings on the ceiling got
lost but luckely the original Rubens chapel
and the main chapel where saved.

Here you can also find a lacework museum.

I'm afraid the church has unconventional
opening try to find out.
But it is a very nice area to have a walk and
on a very nice square.

belgianchocolate's Profile Photo
Dec 20, 2004

Carolus Borromeus Church

Located at a nice Italianesque square, the Hendrik Conscience-plein, the Carolus Borromeus Church is one of the nicest buildings in Antwerp. It was designed by the Jesuits François d'Aguilon and Pieter Huyssens and built between 1614 and 1621. Lightning struck the church in 1718, starting a fire which destroyed much of the interior. It was soon restored by J.P. Van Baurscheit I, but much of the interior, including the original marble and 39 ceiling paintings by P.P. Rubens were lost.

The Carolus Borromeus Church was sold by the Jesuits in 1733, and it became a separate parish church in 1803. The building was restored several times in the 19th and 20th century.

xiquinho's Profile Photo
Oct 19, 2004

Carolus Borromeus church

What a nice Baroque church! It's easy not to find it when you choose to stay in the main streets only (and why would you do that?) as it's a little bit hidden. I was glad to find it. The church was built for the Jesuits between 1615 and 1621. In those days the Jesuits lead the Counter-Reformation, and Baroque splendour was one of the instruments of this attempt to win the people for catholicism again.
You can go inside for free and admire an impressive typically Baroque interior. Although a fire destroyed much of it in 1718 part of it was reconstructed after 1980. That means lots of wood sculptures, marble and paintings. Much of the marble however is painted wood.

You can only see one painting, but it is regularly replaced by an old mechanism. The famous painter Pieter Paul Rubens provided parts of the decoration of both the interior and the exterior.

OlafS's Profile Photo
Oct 15, 2004
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"Drink the Elixir!"
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"Antwerp and area, viewed through the camera"
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Ceiling decorations

While visiting the Saint Carolus-Borromeus Church, do not forget to look up towards the ceiling. Up to me this looks very picturesque.

Of course let's not forget a lot of art work and decorations were destroyed after the big fire in 1718. 39 of Rubens ceiling paintings did go up in flames. What a disaster.

filipdebont's Profile Photo
May 09, 2004

Big Paintings

Another eye-catcher at the High Altar of the Saint Carolus-Borromeus Church is the big painting.

Also you should know that this High Altar contains a very special system in order to replace this big painting. Therefore, a huge receptacle is placed behind the altar.

This receptacle contains four paintings which are put on the stage in turn by means of a pulley, and this according to the theme of the liturgical year.

All four paintings were made by big masters: by Rubens, by Cornelius Schut, by Wappers.

filipdebont's Profile Photo
May 09, 2004

Detail on the High Altar

After you have admired the High Altar in the Saint Carolus-Borromeus Church from a distance, you really have to come closer. (Of course when there are no services going on).

Like this you can get a better look at the upper part of the High Altar (I think this is named the Apsis)

Look at the half dome, how beautifully it is decorated, wow a real master piece. (See picture).

filipdebont's Profile Photo
May 09, 2004

High Altar

As you enter the Saint Carolus-Borromeus Church, the absolute eye-catcher is the beautifully decorated High Altar.

This is something very characteristic on Jesuits Churches. As the high Altar is presented as a grand stage set in sight of the audience.

This whole High Altar is richly decorated with gold.

filipdebont's Profile Photo
May 09, 2004

Things To Do Near Carolus Boromeus Church

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Getting to Carolus Boromeus Church


H. Conscienceplein 6, 2000 Antwerpen


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