Saturday, Oct. 6, 2007 - BELGIUM - Antwerp

   We leave Brussels on a fine crisp morning in which we are again escorted by Patrick.  This time north roughly 30 miles to Antwerp (Antwerpen for locals) with little agenda except to see what we could see.  We had driven through Antwerp a few weeks previously and knew we wanted to return.  Our guide book said Pieter Paul Rubens' house was here, so Peg would watch for that.  Perhaps we could find a Saturday market. Could we be so lucky as to find that Middle Eastern family booth with chai and pita wraps?  We could and we did --  in fact the very same family who must do Saturday market at Antwerp and Sunday market at Brussels.  There must be a rather extensive choreography involved in the set-up and take-down they obviously have to do each time.  We were so busy enjoying the meal, we failed to take photos, but you can see this family affair on our 30 Sept. Brussels Sunday Market album.


David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) reputed to be as popular as Rubens is remembered in this statue which we came upon soon after we arrived & began walking through the town.  

Before long & with hardly trying, we found Ruben's house on Wapper Square. The tourist center is in the foreground with the actual house facing us. The flags mark the entrance.

Rubens was strongly influenced by classical art & studied some years in Italy before coming home to Antwerp. There are many examples of Roman themes such as this pavilion in the formal garden area.

Patrick & Peg stand in the courtyard looking up toward the upper floor of the house where the family living area was on the right and the studio and gallery on the left.

These Roman deities grace the door to the master's studio where it is said he produced some 2500 paintings. His style of voluptuous, sensual baroque figures won the support of royalty as well as the church.

Most of the house has undergone significant and careful renovation since Ruben's day.  This hall is clearly not part of the renovation effort as it bespeaks something much more recent. The figure, however, has a Rubens look about him.

The household area (just out of sight on the right) is of older Flemish design. The left is a replica of Ruben's early baroque design, and part of the artist's studio is in this edifice.  Photos were not allowed inside, so we are not able to show here any of the fine paintings that were on display.  

Once outside again, continuing along the same avenue, we stopped to enjoy this attractive water fountain with an eagle and fish.

Peg liked these statues as they reminded her of  hundreds of construction sites we have come across in the last few weeks. Additionally it seemed a take on honoring the building trades, in this case the builders of Our Lady's Cathedral here in Antwerp [inscription = AAN BOVWMEESTER APPELMANS].

This team of Belgians are about to be put through their paces here in the busy main square of the old city.  Hope they get lots of oats.

Here in the Grote Markt with the stadhuis in the background, we see the featured fountain.  It is pretty gruesome with a severed hand spurting water and & loose head laying there, but there is an interesting story behind it.  

Here is a striking picture of the 16th century guild houses all in a row at the square of the Grote Markt. Here there was also a selection of pubs and outdoor restaurants. 

Patrick was curious about an underground tour he'd heard of.  Apparently you have to make reservations several weeks in advance, but he arranged a little sneak peek.

  Kaasstraat Street as seen from Suikerrui Street 1 block east of the main waterfront road, Ernest Van Dijckkaai.  We loved the way the row houses curved with the street + nice statue & face.

As we wait for the traffic light to change, the Steen Castle fortress of Antwerp -- the oldest building in the city. We visited the Maritime Museum in the Castle during our brief 11 Sept. visit.

We took a little detour out on to a riverfront walk way to watch the River Sheldt traffic for a while. 

The famed vleeshuis, for 3 centuries operated by the butcher's guild.  The alternating red and white stone are said to be suggestive of marbled fat and lean meat.

Having previously seen the spectacular museum inside the castle at an earlier date, we head for the covered area along the river quay with its collection of beautifully restored & preserved old tugs, barges, & the fine wooden boats.

These long sheds downriver from the castle is called, “Museum aan de Stroom” (Museum on the River). This particular lovely boat is named  Pegasus so Keith made Peg stand for a namesake picture.

We found the well restored wooden boats a pure delight.  The plank lines on this gorgeous guy are amazing. Father & son particularly enjoyed the great number & variety of boats here - a "must-see" for any wooden boat lover! [See album of all our Antwerp boat photos]

Just a short walk from the river & the boat museum, we come to St. Paul’s Church which dates from 1571. The interior was ablaze with religious art, but there was a wedding brewing & sadly we were unable to stay long.  

We walked around to the side of St.Paul's Church to the sound of bells announcing the wedding. [Maybe we can later make available the sound videos we took here.]  Note the remainders of a very old wall or buttress.

These are the kind of little historical architectural jewels we like to find.  1537!  Has it really been there that long? We came across this walking the narrow back streets near St. Paul's. In this old part of town, we spied some new along with the old ...

 ... a new Rolls convertible being followed by Lincoln limos. Shutters clicked but no good photos resulted. Later while enjoying lunch, we saw the wedding couple getting their photos taken among the intelligentsia of this sidewalk café area.

Here is a considerably new (circa 2000) café-restaurant.  The Café Horta encompasses remnants of Horta's classic Art Nouveau, the Maison du Peuple, a Brussels building.

This interior photo shows the recycled metal beams, arches & struts with the (presumably) newer glass.  Altogether a very handsome & respectful tribute to the old & the new.

The Antwerp train station is a destination place in its own right.  Of neo-classical design, it was built in 1905. The station is in the diamond district with rows & rows of diamond shops.

Keith finds the clock facade in the Antwerp Centraal train station striking.  Much of the interior is bathed in light from the glass & steel cover.

Very near the train station is the city zoo. Old folks getting tired, we don't go in, but find the art features at the entrance very compelling.  This is only one of several.

Patrick gets his lion fix and we get a photo showing the setting of fall & moms with baby strollers. Time now to find the car & drive the short distance back south to Brussels. 

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