The Stadhus or City Hall of Antwerp is one of the most dramatic structures in this beautiful city. Built between 1561 and 1565 in a pleasingly off-kilter mix of Renaissance with Flemish and Italian influences, and decorated originally with female figures representing Justice, Prudence, and the Virgin Mary today it is festooned with flags of the European Union, NATO, the United Nations, and any number of other organizations.
In an ancient form of flattery,the Green Gate in Gdansk, Poland is obviously modeled after the same building,
According to folklore, and as celebrated by the statue in front of the town hall, Antwerp got its name from a mythical giant called Antigoon who lived near the river Scheldt.
He exacted a toll from those crossing the river, and for those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river Scheldt.
Eventually, the giant was slain by a young hero named Brabo, who cut off the giant’s own hand and flung it into the river.
Hence the name Antwerpen, from the Dutch hand werpen, roughly translated as To throw a hand.
There are other theories for the name, including the meaning “On the Wharf” or “At the Wharf” but I prefer to give a hand to Antigoon.
Out front of the City Hall on the Grote Markt (Great Market Squareis a statue of Brabo and Antigoon, and no tour (or tourist) can come to town without pausing there.
But very few get to pull back the curtain and see the interior of the City Hall.
On our visit to Antwerp this time, we had a private appointment to enter the huge building, and it was a trip back in time. Here is some of what I saw:
Antwerp City Hall with the statue of Brabo
ALL PHOTOS Copyright 2013, Corey Sandler. If you would like to obtain a copy of these or any other photos from my collection, please contact me by e-mail, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A side street off the Great Market Square
Inside the main hall of Antwerp City Hall