The Cathedral of Our Lady, St. Andrew’s Church, St. Charles Borromeo’s Church, St. James’s Church and St. Paul’s Church are a unique group of five historic churches in the city centre. Discover these treasuries of art and cultural-historic heritage during a guided tour, take a walk using the Antwerp Museum App as your guide or use the free visitor guide which you can find in every church.
In addition to being lively parish churches, these five churches are also treasuries of art and cultural-historic heritage. Unique witnesses of the Baroque in the Southern Netherlands from the end of the sixteenth century until the early eighteenth century. Step inside these primarily Gothic churches and you will be astonished to discover an amazing cornucopia of visual art from the Baroque era. Unlike museums, these are not just repositories of artworks. Here you can see religious masterpieces in the buildings for which they were commissioned and created many centuries ago.
These monumental churches largely owe their fame to the paintings that Peter Paul Rubens created for them, introducing the Italian Baroque in Antwerp. The “Return of the Holy Family”, “The Elevation of the Cross”, “The Descent from the Cross” and the “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” are considered iconic works. As they were publicly displayed, they contributed to sealing Rubens’s reputation as a master painter during his lifetime.
Rubens’s relationship with these churches is much more personal than the masterpieces he created for them. Antwerp’s churches were important patrons, but the artist also knew them as places where he attended Mass, where he shared moments of joy and sorrow with his family.
Do you think your children might find a church visit boring? Not if you give them the activity sheets for 5 to 12-year olds! Have fun exploring and learning more about Antwerp’s church heritage with your children. Or how to turn a church visit into a fascinating experience! You can find these free activity sheets in every church. You can explore the churches during their opening hours. The activity sheets are available in Dutch, French, English, German and Spanish.
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Rubens' palazzo in Antwerp is one of the best-known artist's homes in the world.
Tour the city with a guide if you want to make the most of your visit.
What does Baroque architecture look like in Antwerp? How can you easily recognise Baroque buildings?