UNESCO Sites of Antwerp (Flanders - Belgium)

Antwerp boasts 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1 on its own and 2 shared with other locations.


1. Plantin Moretus Museum: This museum is a printing and publishing house since 16th C CE. First of all, this is the only museum as of now, in the list of UNESCO! This place in Antwerp, along with Venice and Paris were the 3 strongholds of Renaissance & Baroque printing in Europe. Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus together set up with prestigious printing company. This site was not just their publishing site, but also the home of Plantin, the workshop, the library, the garden as well as the shop! 

The house begins with the portraits of Plantin family members, incl. paintings by Rubens. There were globes too in this room and my fascination with historical maps was fed well! Do you spot Pazhaverkadu, Madras, Pondicherry, Fort Saint David, Tharangambadi and Nagapattinam? I don't know what's that place between Madras & Pondicherry though. (Update: It's Meliapur. Today's Mylapore!).

There are some exquisite age old machinery, type sets, books and more. Plantin not only published books in local languages, but also in a wide variety of ancient and foreign languages including, Aramaic, Hebrew, Old Syriac, Arabic, Latin, Greek etc. This also included some dictionaries and bibles!

He was a visionary of his times and even came up with unusual, exquisite font types (while font type sounds silly today, he we are talking in pre-computer era in 16th C CE!). Not just religious books, but he was also publishing scientific books including lithographic prints of drawing of plants etc. 

2. Belfry (one of the 55 belfries of France and Belgium): I've already told you about belfries earlier here. This Belfry stands atop Cathedral of Our Lady. This belfry along with the city (stadhuis) forms the UNESCO site in Antwerp in this category. This is infact the tallest of Belfries in Flanders at 123m. Unfortunately both of these are currently under renovation and will not be ready for visits till the year 2020!

The church by itself is a visual treat though. In permanent display are the paintings Elevation to the cross and Descent from the cross by Peter Paul Rubens! This city being the hometown (where he grew up & had a studio) of Rubens, has so much more of and about Rubens than elsewhere! Yes, its the same Rubens who painted the ceiling of Banqueting House in London and the student of Otto van Veen who painted Leuven Town Hall. Luckily for me, when I visited, the moving exhibition of 'Reunion. From Quinten Metsijs to Peter Paul Rubens' was happening there and I got to see several more altarpieces and paintings by the Flemish grandmasters.

A church has been here since 11th C CE, and a Romanesque architecture was built by 12th C CE. From 1352-1521 the current Gothic architecture was built along with the Belfry. Few potions of the current building has traces of paintings from the 15th C CE. Till end of 18th C CE, burials were allowed inside the church, so several tombs were found in excavations, some of which are in the crypt today.

3. Maison Guiette (one of 17 sites in 7 coutries): This is listed under UNESCO as The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement. However, sadly, this is a private residence like Stoclet Palace and cannot be accessed. Here's more details on this architecture of this house.
.....and..... with that.......
We've checked all 13 in the UNESCO listing under Belgium (ofcourse, we haven't seen all sites in the shared location ones like 53 belfries, but we've seen atleast one in those listings)! This also marks 50 UNESCO World Heritage sites by us across India & Europe. Yippee!!!!

To Get There:
To Antwerp: 
From Brussels: 50km (regular Intercity trains are available from Brussels Nord/Central/Zuid and travel time is about 1 hr)
Nearest Airport: Antwerp (TUI, Fly Be); Brussels (all major airlines)
Nearest Railway Station: Antwerp Centraal

All these 3 sites are reachable from Antwerp Centraal (Maison Guitte by bus, rest 2 on foot).
Local Transport within Antwerp is possible with tram and buses which are free with Antwerp City Card
On Google Maps: Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp City Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady & Belfry, Maison Guiette 

Entry Tickets & Timings:
Plantin Moretus Museum: €6 (free for museumpassmusees holders); Tue-Sun: 10:00AM - 5:00PM
Cathedral of Our Lady: €8; Mon-Fri: 10:00AM - 5:00PM; Sat: 10:00AM - 3:00PM; Sun: 1:00PM - 5:00PM
Both are free with Antwerp City Card. The card is valid for 24/48/72 hrs and is active from the first scan in the first place of interest.
Antwerp City Hall, Maison Guiette: Not accessible, can view only from outside

P.S: I was given Antwerp City Card by Visit Antwerp to experience the city for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

17 comments:

  1. Jane Dempster-SmithJanuary 18, 2019 at 2:32 AM

    Interesting article on the printing and publishing house. Thank you for listing the UNESCO sites - I enjoy visiting as many as I can when I travel. We have still to visit Antwerp and will bookmark this article for our visit.

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  2. The Plantin Moretus Museum looks fascinating, I love looking through old maps as well, always so interesting. The Belfry looks very beautiful as well, such incredible architecture.

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  3. Good blog. Thanks for sharing and keep it up!




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  4. What a fascinating city! Most towns don't have even a single UNESCO heritage site but Antwerp has three of them (and completely deservingly btw). I would love to visit Antwerp someday

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  5. The Plantin Moretus Museum seems to be very interesting and exactly my kind of museum. And its even in the list of UNESCO which makes it even more interesting. But also the Belfry and the church itself must be amazing places to see. I would love to see the paintings by Rubens there with y own eyes. All in all very beautiful and interesting spots!

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  6. 50 UNESCO sites - that's quite an impressive number. Would love to get there one day. These 3 in Antwerp look interesting. But the museum is the most intriguing for me. Honestly, I had no idea there was a museum on UNESCO's list. I am glad I found out. Gives me more reason to visit it soon.

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  7. Brought back the memories of my visit to this beautiful city. I didn't enter any of these places but have seen them from outside. Didn't know there were UNESCO sites. I would have guessed that the train station or Jewish quarter would be one given all the history.

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  8. I really want to visit Belgium soon. As being such a small country, it has so much to offer and there is so much to see. Not to mention the CHOCOLATE!!! Ha ha. However, I did not know that there is this many UNESCO sites in Belgium. Thanks for teaching me that. I especially love to visit churches, so I think I would really enjoy seeing belfry. This just made me excited to get there soon.

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  9. I didn't know there were so many UNESCO sites in Belgium, and Antwerp has three of them! Wow! Plantin Moretus Museum and the frescos of Ruben at the Belfry Cathedral look so interesting. I wish Maison Guiette is was a private property and you could see it from inside. But still. Oh and 50 UNESCO site till date sounds incredible!

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  10. I have to admit that I only learned about UNESCO sites in the last couple of years. I know, where have I been living? I visited my first site just a few weeks ago in San Antonio, Texas. I'm so impressed that you've visited 50! These all sound amazing but the museum is what I would really enjoy.

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  11. Interesting places. Nice to know about these.

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  12. Wow for there to be 3 UNESCO sites on this small town is astounding and well deserved. The museums hold so much history

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  13. How unique that a museum was designated as a UNESCO site! What rich history in such a small piece of geography! Thanks for sharing :)

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  14. Recently I have finished my Middle Eastern trip. In Israel and Egypt I have learnt little bit about ancient languages such as Aramaic and Old Syriac.
    Now reading in your post that in the 16th century in Antwerp Plantin published even bibles in ancient languages gave me a new perspective of the Plantin-Moretus Museum and Antwerp.

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  15. I haven't visited any UNESCO site and I would be happy to add this to my bucket list and finally visit it.

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  16. Did not know that this is the only museum in the UNESCO list..what a wow trivia to know and visit. I have a thing for UNESCO sites and Museum and glad to know this museum through this post of yours. Well, I think that place is Mahabalipuram falling between MAdras and Pondy, illa?

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  17. I have never been to Antwerp but I see that this is a very nice place. I would like to visit Plantin Moretus Museum because it looks very interesting.

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