Gothic Antwerp | 14th to 16th century

Every technical advancement carries great art in its wake.The invention of the pointed arch allows buildings to become higher:the Gothic age was born.With its vertical lines and celestial vaults, this style sings the praises of divine glory and human abilities.A virtual trip through Gothic Antwerp.

Divine Gothic

The pointed arch technique allowed for higher buildings. Antwerp’s ostentatious residents translated this into ecclesiastical grandeur.The Cathedral of Our Lady, St James’ Church, St Paul’s Church and St Andrew’s Church are absolute miracles of style. Secular buildings also achieved Gothic heights. Het Vleeshuis, then a guild hall and meat hall, currently houses a museum. When you visit be sure to look up at the sublime arched ceilings.

Stone lacework

Typical of the Gothic façade is the trefoil:three overlapping circles in a triangle.The oldest trefoil pattern is located at Stoelstraat 11, the only remaining wooden building in Antwerp.De Cluyse located at Oude Koornmarkt 26 and Hof van Liere located at Prinsstraat 33 are stone trefoil gems.

Pagadder towers

On the inner courtyard of Hofstraat 15 there is a beautiful ‘Pagadder’ tower.Of the 41 buildings with home towers, only nine remain.A lot has been written about those towers.They are said to refer to a toll collector or pagadoror to the children who were on the look-out for ships.The name probably comes from the nouveau riche for whom the tower was a status symbol.The offspring of Antwerp traders and immigrant traders were mockingly called pagadder.

Stepped gables

Although they are older in origin, the stepped gable was popular in Gothic Antwerp.The façades in the Stadswaag, in the Prinsstraat and Heilige Geeststraat are truly worth a detour.The façade of café De Pelgrom should be observed for its typical Antwerp threelight:a door with windows on either side at attic level.

Jan Crab


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