Interiors of Notre dame d'Anvers cathedral, Anvers, Belgium

Getty Images/iStockphoto


Top choice in Antwerp

Belgium’s finest Gothic cathedral was 169 years in the making (1352–1521). Wherever you wander in Antwerp, its gracious, 123m-high spire has a habit of popping unexpectedly into view and it rarely fails to prompt a gasp of awe. The sight is particularly well framed when looking up Pelgrimstraat in the afternoon light.

The cathedral’s imposing interior sports late-baroque decorations, including four early Rubens canvases and also, while the KMSKA gallery is closed, some of that collection's religious masterpieces. Guided tours at 11am (Monday to Saturday) and 2.15pm (daily) are available in Dutch year-round, but often in English too (2.15pm during the summer).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Antwerp attractions

1. Vlaeykensgang

0.08 MILES

This picturesque passage dates to 1591 and was originally a street of shoemakers.

2. Rubens Statue

0.08 MILES

Presiding over Groenplaats, with Antwerp's cathedral rising splendidly behind it, this 1840s bronze Rubens statue was sculpted by Borgerhout-born…

3. Grote Markt

0.08 MILES

As is the case with every great Flemish city, Antwerp’s medieval heart is a classic Grote Markt (market square). Here the triangular, pedestrianised space…

4. Brabo Fountain

0.09 MILES

Piled with symbols in a refreshing fountain spray, this baroque sculpture's uppermost figure depicts Brabo, hero of Antwerp’s giant-killing, hand-throwing…

5. Stadhuis

0.11 MILES

Presiding over the vast Grote Markt, the 1565 stadhuis has a palatial facade blending Flemish and Italian styles in an innovative departure from the…

6. St-Carolus-Borromeuskerk

0.14 MILES

Rubens turned interior designer as part of the team that created this superb 1621 baroque church, designed to give worshippers a very visceral foretaste…

7. Museum Plantin-Moretus

0.19 MILES

The medieval building and 1622 courtyard garden alone would be worth a visit, but it's the world's oldest printing press, priceless manuscripts and…

8. Handelsbeurs

0.22 MILES

The beautiful building that served as Antwerp's stock exchange from 1531 to 1997 fell into severe disrepair over two decades, but since 2016 has been…