The tallest church in Belgium is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and houses a number of European masterpieces.
The Cathedral of Our Lady is the tallest church in Belgium. Come to marvel at the sense of space and peace created within the cathedral’s vast nave, or browse some of Antwerpen artist Rubens’ finest works. Superb stained glass windows and statues add weight to the cathedral’s claim to being one of the finest in Europe.
You’ll see the Cathedral of Our Lady long before you approach its vast wooden doors and ornate stone facade. The 403-foot (123-meter) tower dominates the city skyline. The cathedral was built over a 169-year period between 1352 and 1521. It covers 2.5 acres (1 hectare), making it the largest building of its kind anywhere in Belgium or Holland.
Stop in the small square before the entrance and admire the high Gothic arches and intricately carved statues within the facade. At the foot of the southern spire you’ll see a monument to the church’s architect, Jan Appelmans.
Inside, the architecture is no less impressive. Seven naves make up most of the space, with the central nave the largest. Count the 48 white marble pillars lining the passageway leading toward the altar.
The altarpieces are by Antwerp’s most celebrated artist, Rubens. Four of his religious masterpieces, including the Raising of the Cross and the Resurrection Triptych are displayed throughout the cathedral. Look up as you walk around and you’ll be treated to beautiful works of stained glass. Fifty-five windows, including the Last Supper by Rombouts, reflect color into the church’s interior. Also noteworthy is the marble statue of Madonna and the Child, created by the anonymous “Master of the Maasland Marble Madonnas.”
The Cathedral of Our Lady is open every day with reduced hours on Sundays. It is located close to the Grote Markt in Antwerp’s historical center. Get there on foot or take the tram to Melkmarkt. There is a small fee for entry to the cathedral.