Please find driving directions below the main text
Bank account of “National Trust Belgium” (NTAB)
BE17 0016 2443 2021
Go back in time to the Netherlands of the 16th century – the Low Countries under Spanish rule – and to the thriving city of Antwerp, where Christophe Plantin and his son-in-law Jan Moretus built up an impressive printing business. Enter the world of these influential families.
Sure, we were at the Plantin-Moretus printers’ shop five years ago, but this time we are coming back for two special exhibitions, ‘Leading Ladies’ and ‘An Italian in the Low Countries’.
You can visit these clearly arranged exhibitions at your own pace. For the ‘Leading Ladies’ you can also join our group guide (Nl-Eng).
Christophe Plantin spent his life between books. He lived with his wife and five daughters in an impressive building on the Vrijdagmarkt. Today, this is the only museum in the world that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The house and the family-owned company survived for three hundred years. This was largely the work of a group of strong, emancipated women. They managed the company for long periods of time, guaranteeing its continuity. The exhibition ‘Leading Ladies’ is devoted to them.
Ludovico Guicciardini, a Florentine merchant who settled in Antwerp, already wrote in his ‘Descrittione di tutti i Paesi Bassi’ – published in 1567 by Plantin – that Flanders was rich in enterprising women! His book forms the basis of the temporary exhibition ‘An Italian in the Low Countries’ (until 10 March).
Guicciardini describes in vivid detail the living conditions and national character of the Netherlands (Low Countries), but also criticizes the devastating influence of the Spanish War on the prosperous country. A striking amount of attention was paid to his hometown of Antwerp, the model city of the Low Countries.
Lunch at Pannenkoekenhuis Suykerbuyck, which translates as Pancake House Sugarbelly. Although the owner’s name is most appropriate for a coffee house that serves waffles and pancakes, the former name of this tavern – De Groote Witte Arend – remains etched in Antwerp’s collective memory. We will have lunch there anyway and, yes, they serve pancakes with savory filling as well.
Lunch consists of a pancake, a drink (wine, beer or soft drink) and coffee or tea. You can have any two fills from a list, although – to save time – we may have to limit that to a shortlist of possible combinations. All the usual restrictions apply of course – face masks, corona pass (mandatory to enter the restaurant) and no symptoms!
Afternoon (2 pm) : Visit of Carolus-Borromeus church & behind-the-scenes (sacristies, crypt, etc.)
The Carolus Borromeus Church (1615-21) is one of the finest examples of Baroque in the Low Countries since 400 years. The church’s exceptionally rich heritage, its relationship with the Antwerp Jesuits and the personal contribution of Pieter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) to the design of both the facade and the interior, attract around 350,000 visitors every year.
In the perfect acoustics of this church, the Artist’s Mass has been resounding on every Sunday and public holiday for more than 75 years, a mass with live music by various musicians, both local and international. Everyone can attend this Artist’s Mass for free, always on Sundays at 11:30 am.