My art class has been going strong with these weekend trips. For the second Sunday in a row we left Brussels to explore a town rich with history and art. This time, it was Antwerp! The ville is about an hour’s train ride from Brussels and is part of Flanders (Flemish Belgium) just like Brugge. I might be mistaken but I believe it was my first time there, so let me tell you about what it has to offer!
The first place we went to was the Plantin House, less commonly known as the printing press museum. Even if you don’t necessarily care about print, this place is fascinating. Never mind the parchment presses for the books, which as we learned took a painstakingly long amount of time to make. More importantly (to me) are the wood and metal presses. How someone manages to etch that much detail into a block of wood or piece of iron, I’ll never know. But I’m adding it to my list of useless yet interesting skills yet to be learned. Other items on this list include glass blowing and stained-glass window painting. I plan to be a regular renaissance, ehh, woman! Another curiosity the museum has to offer is one of the original Gutenberg Bibles. For those who don’t know, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and, naturally, the first item printed was the Bible. I believe around 160 were printed and only 40 remain so…I definitely got to look in on some serious history.
Other than the museum, we walked around town, popping into various churches including the Cathedral of Our Lady. Every town has an “Our Lady”; I’m not sure why the one in Paris thinks it’s so special. This cathedral boasts not only beautiful marble and stained glass, but a solid collection of Mannerist paintings, which we perused and analyzed. We also climbed into the old crypt and saw where the church used to be. Finally, we went to the Rubens House, which boasts many of his paintings, along with a few sculptures and a pretty garden. My friends and I finished the day off at a brewery that has 300 types of beer. Antwerp: it has something for everyone!